Tag Archives: transformation

Transformation of the Ordinary

Dance/movement therapy (DMT) can be an avenue for creating a symbolic transformation of individual, or community experience. DMT can use the same characteristics of weight, balance, and dynamics as do everyday actions such as walking, working, playing, or communication. Out of our everyday and ordinary motor activities, DMT can select, heighten or subdue, gestures/postures and body movement to achieve something which transcends the ordinary.

For instance as a teen I learned a West African Maize Dance from the Arthur Hall African American Dance company. This dance uses the movements of planting, tending, and harvesting of maize as the core elements of the dance. Taking these agrarian movements and enacting them outside of their usual context begins the process of symbolic transformation. As the movements are performed an element of artistic quality begins to emerge and becomes evident in the transitional movements that occur between planting, tending, and harvesting. This Maize Dance combines the ordinary with the extra ordinary; taking the everyday actions and ritualizing them in a way that expresses and celebrates an important aspect of West African culture.

Symbolic transformation can take place on an individual level as well. Once, working with a client an opportunity arose to explore the bodily expression of sadness; i.e. what are you doing/feeling physically when you are sad. The client took the ordinary movements/gestures/postures of their sadness and made them bigger and smaller, connecting, un-connecting and reconnecting them as they slowly evolved into a pattern. As this client continued with their exploration a transformation occurred and new movements, suggestive of another feeling emerged. Asking the client to add words to their exploration of the new movements provided a clearer understanding of sadness.

Enacting movements/postures/gestures outside of their usual context allows the possibility of experiencing in way that can be more; objective and subjective. Making bigger and smaller, connecting and reconnecting, movement and feelings emerge uncensored, allowing a different understanding of the original feeling and all that surrounds it. The therapeutic process of dance movement therapy can guide the mover as they explore, uncovering the extraordinary in the ordinary.

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Authentic movement

Authentic Movement, a process of moving one’s feelings and thoughts was originally called Movement in Depth by Dance Movement Therapy pioneer Mary Starks Whitehouse. Authentic movement grew from Whitehouse’s roots in dance, Jungian studies, and work in dance/movement therapy. Building on Jung’s method of active imagination, she saw symbolic meaning in physical action.

Authentic movement enables a direct connection to the depths of the unconscious, accessing the rich resources of intuitive wisdom expressed through the embodied word, image, sensation and of course movement.

For me authentic movement is connecting with the deep internal well of the self, the sub-consciousness. Drawing slowly one bucket at a time, of feelings, thoughts, and sensations – than pouring them out, to the external, sometimes a few drops, sometimes a cup full, on occasion a whole bucket at a time, washed over the movement floor.

How does a feeling move me? What body part has an urge to move? What thought moves me and what body part has an urge to move from that thought? How does one sensation (physical, emotional, mental) and one body part moving form/transform into a pattern of movement and a pattern of sensation?   These questions are a part of the authentic movement experience for me and they don’t arise while moving but are answered nevertheless by the process.

I sit with my eyes closed, noticing my breath, noticing contractions and expansions in my body. Noticing discomfort and comfort, and then reconnecting with my breath. The mind/thinking creates images and thought patterns in response to the bodily sensations. The body begins to create movement in response to feelings and thought sensations. Letting it happen without censoring, without wondering why or where it is coming from. It just happens.

Moving with the eyes closed in my own internal space, bringing the interior to the exterior, the internal to the external. Using a minimum of sound/words (or none at all); connecting with the floor, walls, ceiling, and air; with the very molecules themselves.

Taking the internal to the external and taking that external even further by sensing others in the room, closer, further; the sound of their breath, of their movement. Perhaps even a touch, and more touch, and less touch. Trying effortlessly to maintain the self (the internal to the external) without being swayed by the connection with another. Trying effortlessly to maintain the self while connecting with the space, the walls, floor, air, molecules.

Authentic Movement Institute

The Center for the Study of Authentic Movement

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