Every year the Department of Creative Arts Therapies (DCAT) of Columbia College Chicago (CCC) hosts an alumni dance show. The show is an opportunity for alumni of the program, like myself, to choreograph and perform, as well as generate money for an annual student scholarship. As an alumnist, I performed in this year’s concert among two other dance/movement therapists who inspire me and influence my dance/movement therapy (DMT) approach. While rehearsing, performing and post-performance processing I realized how important dancing and performing is to me. It is essential for me as a dance/movement therapist to continue my practice as a dancer and performer. Taking dance classes, choreographing, rehearsing, and performing influence my professional work and here are five reasons why.
1. It helps me harness my mind-body connection. One of the main principles of DMT is that the mind and body are connected and influence one another. As dance/movement therapists we use our mind-body connection as a tool in our therapy tool box, but we also hope to increase this skill in the clients we work with. Although I harness my mind-body connection while leading DMT groups, taking a dance class is a way for me to practice this skill personally. In dance class I am constantly engaging this connection to help with my technique and to be a more present dancer. Dance classes help me harness my mind-body connection so that I am able to use it in the DMT sessions I lead.
2. It is a part of my self-care plan. Taking one dance class per week is a part of my self-care plan, although I usually take a ballet and a modern class. As I mentioned in my previous post about embodiment, taking a dance class helps me wring my body of the energy I absorb in my every day work as a dance/movement therapist. Not to mention it’s fun to take a dance class.
3. It keeps me honest. Every day I ask the clients that I work with to get up and dance. Why then would I not do the same thing? By taking a dance class I am keeping honest with myself and with my clients. Dancing is what brought me to this work to begin with so I must keep taking classes to maintain my connection to the art form.
4. It keeps me connected to my dancer self. Before I became a professional dance/movement therapist I was a dancer. Maybe I wasn’t a professional dancer, but I consistently took classes and performed. In my DMT career I access that part of myself while leading groups, using my skills in improvisation and choreography. I also appreciate staying connected to my dancer self for personal reasons. I am a dancer and a dance/movement therapist, and these roles influence one other.
5. It reminds me that dance is enough. There is pressure in the DMT community to become expert in all things related to dance, psychology, counseling, kinesiology, somatics…etc. Often times dance/movement therapists have additional credentials along with DMT related titles (R-DMT/BC-DMT), myself included. When I take a dance class I am reminded that dance is enough. The simple act of dancing is transformative. As dance/movement therapist Dr. Danielle L. Fraenkel said at the 49th ADTA Annual Conference, “Dance in of itself is inherently healing.”