Based in the belief that the body, the mind and the spirit are interconnected, dance/movement therapy is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process that furthers the emotional, cognitive, social and physical integration of the individual”. Dance/movement therapy, a creative arts therapy, is rooted in the expressive nature of dance itself. Dance is the most fundamental of the arts, involving a direct expression and experience of oneself through the body. It is a basic form of authentic communication, and as such it is an especially effective medium for therapy.
Though the field of dance movement therapy is yet nascent in India, a huge amount of curiosity and interest has gradually grown towards this discipline over the years. Interestingly, rather than from within the field of dance, professionals outside of the dance world desire to understand and explore this discipline. For instance, at the Christ University (Bangalore), it is the department of Psychology that runs a certificate course on dance therapy and not the dance department!
When I pioneered dance movement therapy in 1990 in Bangalore, dance was mostly considered a performing art – people who heard about dance therapy commented ‘this sounds like a western dance form’ or ‘it seems so alien to our culture’ or ‘why do we need another dance form when we have so many of our own dance traditions’ etc. Yet, since then till now, there has been a tremendous response to all workshops, courses, retreats, lecture-demonstrations, conferences, on-going sessions and seminars on movement therapy, organized in different parts of India by a number of its practitioners.
Through short term training programs in dance movement therapy in different cities, special educators, teachers, physiotherapist & pyschotherapists, psychiatrists, researchers, group leaders, para-medical staff, rehabilitation and corporate professionals, have perceived and experienced the power of movement therapy. Many, from these diverse fields, want to integrate the discipline’s practical aspects i.e., movement activities and experiences, into their own work with children, adolescents and adults, with or without therapeutic needs.
Dance/Movement therapists and therapeutic movement facilitators, who have trained abroad and in India, use a variety of approaches, theoretical paradigms and practical movement experiences in NGOs, special schools, hospital, half-way homes, de-addiction centres, old age homes, educational institutions, prisons etc. Movement therapists practice primarily in Bangalore, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and other smaller cities. Therapists are working with mentally and physically challenged adults, children with special needs, with women’s groups, with patients in hospitals, with people who are visually and hearing impaired, with sex workers and with normal functioning groups of people as well.
These Movement therapists are adapting and combining western approaches, while extrapolating therapeutic potentials from indigenous dance forms in their work. They have also devised their own tools, methods and techniques to work across urban and rural communities. Some therapists have begun to collaborate with professionals in other disciplines, such as Neuro-linguistic programming, leadership training, Psychotherapy, Education etc.
Few therapists have developed a performance oriented approach, in which groups of children or adolescents perform for the public after under-going movement therapy. Other therapists have maintained a purely process oriented approach, in which the goals, processes and therapeutic outcomes achieved are of primary importance.
Given this ever changing scenario, in which movement therapy has made its entry and is surging ahead on a dynamic growth path, it was felt by the core group of the Creative Movement Therapy Association of India (CMTAI), that an official journal on this discipline was essential to celebrate the existence of dance/movement therapy in India.
The journal has invited practitioners to address a variety of issues, needs, challenges, innovations and research practices, in their work as movement therapists. Therapists have also written about populations gaining benefits from movement therapy, and the integration of movement therapy into systems and settings already in place. The journal is a collation of original contributions, case study material, articles and research studies by leading dance educators, dance therapy practitioners as well as allied professionals.
CMTAI has collaborated with Artsphere, Pune to produce this first ever E-journal on Dance/Movement therapy in India. We are proud and excited to release this E-journal on the 2nd anniversary of CMTAI, which was launched in March 2014, Delhi. We thank all the authors who have contributed their articles to this E-journal, and hope this journal travels far and wide to interested individuals and communities across India and the world.
Profound connections are formed as we share ourselves through dance, becoming the basis for transformation and transcendence. Dance therapy truly is beyond and above words – Judith Bunner
My journey as a dance therapy practitioner began exactly 10 years ago, when I quit my corporate job, within a month of joining. I was lost as to what was the purpose of my life, when I came across Tripura’s ‘My Body My Wisdom’ workshop in Bangalore, which became the turning point in my life.
Dance/movement therapy (DMT) benefits all, irrespective of their dance background. Today as a mentor to all the DMT students passing out of the Pune course, I see lives transform as they walk on the path of dance and healing.
Creating India’s first DMT journal, giving it shape, watching it bloom is a dream come true. The journal is a milestone in the field of DMT in India and includes a meta-analysis of all the research done in the past 2 years by the current DMT practitioners in Pune. There are studies from various populations, from old age homes to patients suffering from Schizophrenia. There are studies conducted across schools with children with special needs and ADHD, as well as studies with adolescents revealing that DMT enhances communication skills, self-esteem and body image. DMT has also gained popularity amongst the corporates as a stress management tool, with several studies indicating reduction in stress. Those looking to work with corporates may find my research paper on the effect of Arts Based Therapy (ABT) on stress as a state and trait in employees useful.
A multi arts based approach in the research with children with special needs, where we have combined drumming, drama, visual art, dance therapy and alternative therapies, is revolutionary work in the field of art therapy. These researches are not only generating evidence that art therapy works with different populations but will hopefully also create more job opportunities for our budding DMT practitioners spreading love and joy through dance.
DMT practitioner/Research Assistant
Behind every dancer there’s someone that broke her, a song that moved her, a moment that inspired her and a dance floor that healed her
– Hope Alcocer
Like many dancers, I too had a moment that inspired me, and a dance floor that healed me. It was the moment when I decided to take up Dance Therapy as a career, and went to Bangalore to learn this beautiful process of self-discovery. The floor at Shoonya studios was the starting point to my process, and ever since that, I have been on my path towards healing.
The other turning point in my life came when I joined Artsphere, and became a part of this journal. This journal is our attempt to spread awareness among people about the wonderful effects of DMT on different populations. It unfolds some personal stories of therapists who have worked hard to make a difference in the lives of people. It entails some really great articles by the passionate dance therapists and their experiences in the said field. The journal will set an example to the future takers of Dance Therapy and will help them plunge in it. It acts as a platform for therapists to be able to share knowledge and valuable information.
Working on this journal was not easy. It was a learning process for me and has helped me grow tremendously. I hope that the readers will find it equally informative and learn from it. This journal will definitely prove to be a milestone in the field of Dance Therapy and we as a team are happy to work on it.