“Sometimes I hurt because I dance, other times I dance because I am hurt. Either ways, dancing does it all.”
This particular quote holds absolutely true for me. I have been immensely passionate about dance, and have been injured due to it too. All that kept me going in my tough days was Dance. I used to keep watching dance, experiencing it through someone else’s body and just moving my upper body, since I had an injured leg. I used to itch to move, without any bondages, any boundaries, any hesitation and any tension. I just wanted to engage in ‘free movement’. Unfortunately, I was stuck in that phase of feeling crippled for a really long time. In due course, I completed my studies in Psychology, my second passion, and was clueless about what to do next. I really wanted an amalgamation of the two most favorite things in my life, Dance and Psychology.
I had attended a few workshops on Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) but never really visualized it as my career option. It was either dance or psychology for me at that time. Slowly, I started finding deeper connections between the two and wanted to pursue Dance Movement Therapy as a career. I saw myself as a ‘dance therapist’ almost immediately. That clarity in vision and in thought was extremely enriching. I suddenly started feeling very confident about my career choice and started living a life of a dance therapist, even though I was yet to undergo any formal training.
I soon went on to take my formal training in DMT, but was a little hesitant to move at first considering my long sabbatical from dance, as I would call it. By the end of the therapist-training course, I was a new person. I had achieved this dangerous level of freedom and nothing could pull me down. I was so happy with myself. There was a great level of mind-body co-ordination, my hesitancy had vanished and I was more confident about being able to move and become a therapist. I had thought I had lost both those qualities, but I felt as if I have been given a new lease on life. I felt that I had reached another level of understanding of things around me, the joy of being able to move reflected clearly in my eyes. My body seemed lighter and I started feeling baggage-free. My communication had increased, even though my words were limited; I was communicating through my body and had an amazing level of attunement with those around me. I had started sensing things, going deeper within and almost always had a huge smile on my face. So many of my needs were fulfilled through DMT. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of the DMT program and I was all set to take it forward in the world.
The pattern of the course was such that we had to take up an internship after the course. I was sure I wanted to work in Pune (since I was based in Pune and knew I had opportunities). I approached my mentor in Pune and cheekily asked her to offer me an internship. Honestly, I didn’t give her a choice! In a week’s time, I was ready to take my first ever DMT session as a facilitator. But I was nervous! I felt a huge sense of responsibility towards the population I was working with, but I made sure my body language reflected my confidence and readiness to take up the session. I just closed my eyes and thought about my passion for DMT and took the session. The session went off beautifully, the children getting to know the new therapist in their lives. The batch that we were working with, was a naughty one. They were a really bright lot, with great understanding and observation capacities. Their needs that we had identified on a broader spectrum, were social needs. There was a disparity between the level of intelligence and the behavior they exhibited. They were a batch that lacked obedience, discipline and respect for teachers. I was accompanied by a co-therapist helping me with this group of ‘grown up children’. We had a huge challenge in front of us, that to help the children to fulfill these needs. The therapeutic goals we had, were to create awareness about the self, regarding the body, their resilience power, their attention span and their focus.
Days, weeks and months passed and I saw a huge improvement among the children. They responded well to therapy and started introspecting. They came to understand the difference between feelings and thoughts and between “feeling in the body” and “feeling emotionally.” They began to acknowledge and respect teachers and others, bringing a sense of obedience in the class. Complete discipline was yet to be established, since it seemed that a few children always had this need to disturb the class. This mischievous gang always wanted to ‘enjoy’ in the class, run around and were very hyperactive. I used to try and think of newer ways so that I could bring them to a point of mild discipline. I didn’t seem to get a break-through, until I made them do a structured choreography about positive and negative sides, that an individual has. We made two equal groups; with equal number of people in each group, representing the positive and negative sides in each person. This activity greatly impacted the children and made them understand deeply, how there are positives and negatives in each person and how to make the correct choices, without being too critical for the negatives in us. They became more open bodily as well as emotionally. They were ready for therapy.
The much-needed break through made me feel happy and back on track. The group of mischievous children had turned into a thoughtful lot and it had started reflecting in their well-being. They were still naughty to an extent, but I managed to keep them interested and grounded in the activities for a longer time. They responded extremely well to warm ups on Bollywood songs, and I could see the change in each child. There was a vast difference in the way they behaved and reacted. I felt their maturity came to the forefront and they just needed a way to channelize their energies. I kept building on their strengths, while helping them identify, accept and work on their weaknesses. I was concentrating on the overall development of the children, while focusing on their social behaviour.
I saw the effect of DMT right in front of my eyes, with the children really opening up and accepting themselves and showing a readiness to work on themselves. I am still working with these children and hope to spot many more changes in them. I am really enjoying these sessions filled with fun, introspection and learning. More than them, it has been a learning experience for me. It has changed me and I am sure it will bring about a positive change in others. I really want to be able to take DMT to the masses and to foster participation, so as to be able to bring about self-discovery in each individual.