Hello – it’s been a long time since my last blog – hence the title of this one! Just last week some of us were at Move It, the big dance exhibition at Olympia, Earl’s Court, London. Everything from ballet to ballroom to street dance to tap dancing was happening, with all the attendant noise and enthusiasm. We were manning (or in our case ‘womanning’) the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy stand. We met so many people at different life stages enquiring about training as DMP’s, and it really emphasised to me how very accessible and possible our profession is for anyone at any stage who wants to work with their love/passion for dance/movement to make a difference.
At the recent Burns Night supper to raise funds/awareness of Dance Voice and our work, Andrew Morgan, our patron and the organiser of the event (thank you Andrew) gave our guests, many of whom don’t know anything about us, a spontaneous quote about us:
‘When you see people at Dance Voice moving with and showing respect for people who are on the margins of society you can see them seeing themselves as a person of worth, in a way others in society may not do. And you can see the delight in their faces.’
To see this in action please come to our showcase, 20th April!
I received information about this via ADTA (the American Dance Therapy Association). They are supporting the dance based global advocacy event, One Billion Rising: visit the site for more information www.onebillionrising.org
So if you are reading this and are in agreement that we need collectively or individually to dance to support an end to violence against women (that’s one billion women globally) – join in! Dance Voice works with some who have suffered violence – not only women but men too of all ages and abilities – and it is part of our ethos to support any woman, man or child through our work. Our DMP groups meeting on the 14th February will be dancing – do your own dance and let others know via social media if you are in accord.
Hello and belated happy new year to all readers! I thought you might enjoy these pictures of our Year 2 students in their weekly personal process group – usually a private, confidential affair but in honour of the snow and because they needed to play – they went outside and cavorted, laughed, shared – finally dancing to part of Vivaldi’s four seasons (Winter, of course) and then ‘Walking in the air’ from the Snowman. They’d just handed in a big assignment so there was a great sense of relief and achievement. Snow dancing is highly recommended.
Hello – just to say that Dance Voice is now resting ’til we re-open on 2nd January 2013. We wish you all everything you wish for your selves for the new year ahead and hope that you will come and visit us sometime if you’d like to. We welcome visitors to find out first hand why Dance Movement Psychotherapy at Dance Voice makes a difference to those who experience it. Special thanks to all those who have supported us by donating, or by spreading the word about us and our work, or have come and worked with us as volunteers. You warm our hearts by your gifts – thank you,thank you.
Love and blessings to all in the festive season – Pam
But not for everyone… some of the people who come to our groups at Dance Voice find Christmas difficult. If you have issues with:
family relationships loneliness food (eating disorders) alcohol
to name but a few, it may not be the easiest of times. Even going to a Christmas crisis centre where food/drink and social company is the focus can be difficult for some. Many of our clients find it hard that we close at Christmas (it is the only time we do close), and are so glad to be here as soon as we re-open.
I call it the ‘D’ word, because so many people I know ‘glaze over’ and say ‘Well, of course I can’t dance’ – and almost back away in fear if invited to do so.
There is so much in the media about dance (I’m thinking ‘Strictly’, street dance,…….Gangnam style) and it seems that it is no longer quite so strange or unacceptable to dance, even to enjoy dancing? But there’s still a lot of resistance in some quarters and the ‘british’ cultural relationship with dance continues to be something of an enigma. Where’s our national dance? Ireland and Scotland do all right with their dance identity but somewhere along the line the majority of us brits may have lost it? And at celebrations we have no traditions that I know of that involve dance – whereas in many other parts of the world they do.
As a Dance Movement Psychotherapist I believe we are taking dance out of the box and redefining it. There are no right or wrong steps or moves - sometimes there are not even steps. Our profession dances with clients across a spectrum that includes those who have minimal movement, cannot stand, perhaps cannot apparently move with any kind of flow that might be perceived as dance. (The film Inside I’m Dancing makes this point very well). Sometimes clients are not referred to us because they ‘can’t dance’ or would not be able to move sufficiently – but we believe that a dance can be a dance if someone is perfectly still and apparently unmoving; a dance can be shared even if one of the dancers cannot move. So we can work with everything from the earliest life stages to the very last, and with every range of physical and cognitive ability. In DMP there is no right or wrong dance, it is what it is. Sometimes in a DMP session the dance is more a ‘talking dance’ than an actual dance and it is the fact that the client(s) know that they can get into their bodies and move as well as talk, if they need to, that releases their ability to say what they’ve not been able to say in any other context. So we might find ourselves spending at least half the DMP session time in conversation…but sometimes it is the dance itself that is the conversation and very few words are used.
So I find myself borrowing from ‘Strictly’ and saying to clients as they leave DMP ‘ ‘keep dancing’ – whether it’s a salsa, a walk in the park, a conversation or a time of stillness – all of these and many more for me are dances.
Last Monday I was the speaker at one of the regular meetings of the BPA. It was fascinating to work with a group of ‘talking’ psychotherapists and to present dance movement psychotherapy (DMP) to them. So – there we were, sitting in a circle, and I was encouraging everyone to experience in their bodies some of the approaches that we use in DMP. I was amazed by how open everyone was to getting up and ‘having a go’ and felt really gladdened by the group’s interest and enthusiasm. Before the session I had (nervously) wondered whether anyone would join in – but I needn’t have worried. One reflection from the explorations we did was that through moving freely and creatively one person noticed how much she holds onto in her body: that led me to reflect on how psychotherapists (and perhaps our wider society) are generally more focused on chair-bound, relatively still activities. As she opened out her body wide and stretched expansively, she realised that this is what she needs to do, not just for her physical self but also for her emotional self, which as a practicing psychotherapist is receiving and holding a huge amount from her work. If you don’t know about BPA, take a look at their website – http://www.bristol-psychotherapy-association.org.uk/ - Pam
A BIG thank you to everyone who gave to Dance Voice in September at the ongoing Waitrose charities appeals - we received a cheque for £306 – brilliant!
As I write this I am thinking about the concept of journeys – maybe the huge number of current road works on my daily commute has affected me? Some of my recent journeys to Dance Voice have taken twice as long as they should! Also this new website has been a journey as we’ve worked on it, to communicate what it is that we do here at Dance Voice. But, more seriously and in the spirit of creative symbol and imagery, which is part of dance movement psychotherapy, I believe that for both clients and students who come to Dance Voice there is a sense of journey. If you come to us we are privileged to share your journey and support you – even if there are ‘road works’ on the way.
Out in the wider context there is plenty happening to show the value of dance movement psychotherapy and other related creative arts and arts therapies in all kinds of places. Research at the Sidney de Haan Centre – www.canterbury.ac.uk/Research/Centres/SDHR/Home.aspx -which is part of Canterbury Christ Church, our validating university, has shown the value of singing for older people. The Arts Council – www.artscouncil.org.uk recognizes the benefits of dance for health and well being. In our education programme at Dance Voice there is now a steady stream of Master’s research to validate our work and it’s part of my job to support the students on their research journey. It is exciting when each student first shares her or his ideas for research and I am amazed by the breadth and depth presented. We now have research data from dance movement psychotherapy in a young offenders setting, elderly residential setting, one-to-one dance movement psychotherapy with a client in recovery from substance misuse and more. Examples of research in progress are dance movement psychotherapy in palliative care, in education settings, gender focused studies, autistic spectrum, performance, the perspective of carers for clients with learning disabilities and connections with spirituality for dance movement psychotherapy practitioners.
As a novice blogger I hope this first one has offered just a little more insight into Dance Voice, and I’m looking forward to writing more and in-depth in future blogs – Pam.