75 Minute Presentations
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Biculturalism in Dance/Movement Therapy: Insights from the Embodied Cultural Narratives of Japanese-American Educators

Presenters: Eri Millrod and Tomoyo Kawano

Description of Presentation: The topic of this presentation is biculturalism and is part of the larger discourse on cultural diversity and inclusion in DMT. Understanding bicultural identities is essential, because with globalization and immigration, it is increasingly common for dance/movement therapists to encounter clients who identify with more than one culture. These individuals are bicultural or multicultural and do not fit into a single racial or ethnic category.

The presenters, both of whom are Japanese-American, will begin with an introduction of key constructs, including acculturation processes and bicultural identity integration. Factors that challenge bicultural identity integration will be discussed, specifically as they relate to Japanese-Americans who experience tensions due to significant differences in self-concept between Japan and the United States. They will also cover concepts such as the dialectical self, collectivism, tolerance for contradiction, as well as broader Japanese cultural influences on identity development through discussions and movement explorations.

The presenters will describe the methods they developed to access their embodied cultural memories as a way to construct their embodied cultural narratives. Presentation attendees will have opportunities to participate in experiential exercises on embodied bicultural narratives, so that they can develop a deeper understanding of biculturalism.

The presentation will conclude with discussion on the implications of biculturalism to DMT. Knowledge of biculturalism and the process of bicultural identity integration will allow dance/movement therapists to: 1) better understand clients who internalize more than one culture; 2) design DMT interventions that are congruent to the needs of those who are at different points in the process of forming bicultural/multicultural identities; 3) effectively support clients in coping with acculturation stress; and 4) formulate treatment plans that will promote bicultural identity integration. Return to top

Embodied Decision Making in Crucial Life Transitions

Presenter: Dr. Thania Acarón

Description of the Presentation: The workshop investigates how embodied approaches promote creative practices that facilitate reflexivity and engagement with somatosensory information, which are crucial to wellbeing. The workshop will be experiential, but with a didactical presentation of the model with discussion.

Presentation will start with some developmental movement exercises and a group warm-up. Then the embodied decision making model will be introduced along with its applications and trajectory in the UK. Then participants will explore each of the stages of the models and contemplate a decision in their professional life. A discussion with the workshop participants will take place in terms of their own experiences of moving through the stages and the applications to their client work.

The protocol is based on the presenter’s doctoral research on movement analysis and violence prevention with new insights into wider applications across the fields of education, health & wellbeing and business. Return to top

HOLDING COMMON GROUND: An American-Vietnamese Cultural Exchange

Presenters: Lisa Roll and Jeanne Travers

Description of presentation: Holding Common Ground (HCG), a collaborative offering using dance/movement therapy and dance choreography explores questions like: How does one find common ground regarding internal issues or outward differences, or stand one’s ground with another especially in times of ideological conflict? David Whyte states, “To come to ground is to find a home in circumstances and in the very physical body we inhabit…to find the support and foundation that has been beneath our feet all along.” Dance allows society to view social issues through an embodied lens. DMT having deep roots in dance, has the profound power of communicating non-verbally while promoting the emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual.

HCG is presented by a dance/movement therapist and a dance choreographer who collaborated on an interdisciplinary cultural exchange in Vietnam. The presenters demonstrate their process with American and Vietnamese community members. The DMT workshops and the resulting choreography explored common differences through shared rhythm, embodied empathy and understanding. Dance movement therapist Penny Bernstein writes, “the use of the arts as a facilitator for growth and recovery is transcultural and profound.”

The two-week HCG seminar offered community-based workshops and performances celebrating inclusivity and the common vision of dance as a universal language. The project included dance workshops, dance/movement therapy, choreography, performances, video, and lectures.

DMT concepts of rhythmic synchrony, collective rhythms, attunement and kinesthetic empathy provide a framework for connection, fostering the common ground of relationship. The polyvagal research of Stephen Porges identifies how the autonomic nervous system works to scan for safety or danger. “The ventral vagal pathway responds to cues of safety and supports feelings of being safely engaged and socially connected” (Dana). Inherently DMT uses attunement and matches bodily expression and breath to build a therapeutic relationship of kinesthetic empathy “involving the ability of one person to understand another” (Fischman).

Participants in this workshop will explore DMT methods, polyvagal neuroscience and rhythmic regulation while building common ground. Clinical examples are provided demonstrating the role of the autonomic nervous system and regulation. This session includes experientials, case studies, and video for clinical application. Return to top

Therapeutic Activism and Systemic Health: From the Studio to the Terrain

Presenters: Corinne Ott and Ann Moradian

Description of presentation: When we look out into the world, alongside great beauty, we soon realize the extent of the pain and hardship humans face whether caused by war, poverty, famine, rape, violence, racism, exploitation, corruption, environmental degradation and more. Rather than pull the covers over our heads, how can we face this realization squarely in the eye? If we want to bring our skills out into the world where they are needed most, we need tools to manage the overwhelm, remain focused, and keep moving forward positively and authentically.

The format for this workshop is 75 minutes, approximately half experiential / half presentation and discussion. We will call upon our experiences living and working in Africa, India, and France (for the last 25 years) as well as lessons learned from recent work in South Africa with women living with HIV.

The experiential portion will focus on movement that helps us discover how much we are ‘holding’; identifying and affirming our ‘right’ work; honoring and transforming what we feel into renewed action in the world.

This will be followed by a discussion and open forum on the following topics:

The concept of Systemic Health: how do we manage ourselves and our patterns so that we help sustain healthy communities, healthy societies, and healthy ecosystems?

The concept of Therapeutic Activism – the action and process of healing in the world, including the value of taking the time to understand the issues facing a community.

The value of other lenses and points of view to support our capacity to deal with the challenges we face collectively as humans on the earth today. Return to top

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