Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Dance/Movement Therapy

 Brief Overview 

Dance/Movement Therapy is an approach to healing that has become an increasingly useful way of working with people of all ages who cannot express themselves verbally, have problems that are manifested somatically (e.g., eating disorders), have been abused, struggle with emotions, have difficulty coping with relationships, find themselves in creative blocks., or are trapped in situations that seem unspeakable.

Modern approaches to dance/movement therapy began in the United States and are now being used through out the world. People have begun to understand that expressive dance —the creative use of both natural and formal elements of dance—is (1) inherently healing and that (2) neuroscience can explain what dance/movement therapists have known for decades. With India being such an important player on the international stage, it is essential that students learn how dance/movement therapy and the growing science of the brain can have a positive affect on mental health in India.

 Course Objectives 

This paper will

  • Help the student understand and discuss the basic assumptions of dance/movement therapy.
  • Enable the student to compare and contrast five approaches to dance/movement therapy
  • Apply the above knowledge to improvisations and experiential exercises
  • Enable the student to dentify the differences and similarities between dance and dance/movement therapy.
  • Help the student compare and contrast the differences and similarities among dance/movement therapy, dance education, and dance as recreation.
  • Introduce a vocabulary list of new words with a focus on language that can be applied to movement observation and analysis.
  • Enable the students to apply the above to dentify at least five nonverbal phenomena that characterize his or her movement repertoire.
  • Support the students building of a music library for dance/movement therapy comprised of at least 20 selections.

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Interactive class discussions regarding new concepts
  • Improvisational and creative dance to embody pioneers varying approaches and constructs basic to dance/movement therapy
  • Analysis of assigned research articles and videos to enhance readings from texts and lectures.
  • Maintenance of journals to record responses to the readings, discussions, and in-class experiences
  • Additional written assignments to integrate theory and practice
  • Evaluations are conducted throughout the semester to appraise student outcomes



 Course Outline 

Sr. No.




Using improvisation to identify students’ roots in dance, cultural roots, familial roots, and core essences to understand the importance of self-awareness and identifying one’s movement preferences.

What dance/movement therapists need to fulfill the responsibilities of their clinical roles.



Movement as a reflection of culture, (e.g., Indian folk dance)

Natural element of dance: Understanding the differences between “The One” (Underlying steady beat) and rhythm

Why dance gives us pleasure

Rhythm and the brain



BodyMind Integrity—The Unified BodyMind and Basic Assumption I—

There is a dynamic and reciprocal relationship between body and mind, such that a change in one affects a change in the other.

The Brain’s role in Movement

The Triangle of Wellness: Interactions among brain (body), mind, and relationships



Natural elements of dance as sources of improvisation & expression—(e.g., pulse, breath, muscle connectivity)



Basic Assumption IIa: Dance acts as an “embodied and immediate” mode of communication that builds on bodymind integrity.

Developing “basic action” and pedestrian movements into full-bodied expressive dance.



The Marian Chace Approach to Dance/Movement Therapy:  Basic Action, rhythm, symbols, and the therapeutic movement relationship

Kinesthetic Empathy: The Keystone of Dance/Movement Therapy

Neuroscience’s support of Chace’s Approach to DMT



The Trudi Schoop Approach to Dance/Movement Therapy: Education, Humor, Role Play, and the Therapeutic Movement Formulation

 The Facilitative Quartet: The Dance/Movement Therapist as Teacher/Director, Dancer, Audience, and Choreographer



Applications of the Chace and Schoop approaches to working with children contending with intellectual challenges (e.g., autism spectrum disorders)

Liljan Espenak’s Approach to Dance/Movement Therapy: Psychomotor Therapy and Movement Diagnostic Tests



Role of music in dance/movement therapy

LivingMusic : The Dance/Movement Therapist as musician



Formal elements of dance —Effort/Shape

Movement characteristics of psychiatric patients

Basic Assumption IIb: Dance acts as an “embodied and immediate” mode of communication that builds on bodymind integrity and the aesthetics of dance.”



Basic Assumption III. Dance movement “promotes the integration and holistic functioning of the personality drawing upon the power of creativity and the innate capacity to heal.”

Blanche Evan Approach to Dance/Movement Therapy —Dance/Movement/Word Therapy: Working with the Normal Urban Neurotic —adults and children



Mary Whitehouse, Authentic Movement, and the Role of Witness



Dance/Movement Therapy with Special Populations (e.g., trauma, eating disorders, anxiety, etc.)



Comparing and contrasting the work of the five pioneers

DMT from a psychotherapeutic perspective  vrs DMT from an anthropological perspective.