Dance + Movement Medicine

dance and movement medicine Jul 20, 2022


“Dancing is not getting up painlessly like a speck of dust blown around in the wind. Dancing is when you rise above both worlds, tearing your heart to pieces, and giving up your soul.” 

~ Rumi 


I grew up a technical ballet dancer. Having the label of “dancer” has been my most precious identity. What I hadn’t experienced yet was the healing power of dance. Through discovering authentic movement experiences like Ecstatic Dance, 5Rhythms, and Tamalpa, I moved myself through grief, health issues, and heartbreak. I was no longer performing; I was speaking a new language and expressing myself in a way I had never known. I soon found there are academic degrees in this work. I enrolled in my second Master's degree to become a Dance/Movement Therapist. After a year and a half, I left the Somatic Psychotherapy program at Naropa University because the educational environment didn’t align with my values. During the first year, I did my practicum in Equine (Horse) Facilitated Psychotherapy with survivors of sexual trauma. This inspired my work to offer non-sexual sensuality as a healing modality. 

There are many ways to use dance and movement as medicine: group dance like Ecstatic or my workshop Love & Rhythm, Partner Dancing/Contact Improv, or Sensual Self Love: dancing in a room by yourself, exploring non-sexual sensuality, releasing pain, and celebrating Love.

My Instagram is your intimate guide into sensual movement healing!


Body Intelligence - BQ

Body Intelligence (or Kinesthetic Intelligence) is our most instinctive intelligence. It’s what was necessary for survival during early human evolution. Soon after, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) arose and enabled the evolution of mirror neurons in our brain and empathetic resonance, which proved useful for our survival in groups because feeling another’s pain benefited social stability. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) has been valued most in educational systems: a test that measures how well someone does on standardized testing and the ability to critically think in a specific format designed for a specific type of learner. Intellect, innovative thinking, and reasoning have been the most prominent intelligence that has separated us from the rest of the animal kingdom (not positive or negative). However, we have valued a specific type of intellect so much that we have forgotten how important the other types of intelligence we hold are. Body and Emotional Intelligence are the foundation of our evolution and survival. The body’s intelligence is far older than the brain. In fact, it was our stomachs that developed before our brains. That’s why we have gut instincts. Most of our serotonin (happy-feeling neurotransmitters) are released from our stomach. Meaning, what we ingest is so important because it’s intimately connected to our feelings and mood! 

The best way I can describe the importance of BQ and using somatic therapy to explore our suffering is by asking you: what happens in your body when you get stressed? Do you notice tension in your chest? Discomfort in your stomach? Do you get a headache? Tightness in your shoulders? This is emotional stress manifesting as physical stress because the brain hasn’t processed the issue. So often we have a traumatic experience or fearful thoughts, and we shove them away and distract ourselves from resolving and healing how we experienced and interpreted the event. Simply put, it gets stored in the body. This stress can manifest from hormone imbalances, digestive issues, chronic pain, to diseases and disorders. 

Many people we perceive as having “weird” social behavior, or even as basic as poor communication skills, withdrawal tendencies, inconsistency, tempers, depression, etc., aren’t because they’re “assholes,” many times it’s actually unresolved trauma manifesting as fearful responses through social behavior. We can have more awareness and compassion for the amount of trauma in the average human experience when we understand that. There’s a spectrum, of course: trauma can be anything from your parents divorcing, being bullied, being in an accident, being abused, etc. Once you accept that you and most people you know have probably experienced something traumatic to your nervous system at some point and, as a result, have triggers or issues that cause you suffering and probably impact other people in your life, you can start to work with it and destigmatize your's and their experience. You’re not alone, and you can repair what was hardwired into your system. You have the complete capacity to rewire your automatic reactions and thought processes. But to do so, you have to understand that your body isn’t separate from your brain. Allow them to work together to repair painful wiring. 

If you aren’t a kinesthetic learner, you certainly know some. Well, you know me now :) A classic example is the jock in high school who seemed really bad at academics, but he was unstoppable when he got on the football field. Yes, he was a kinesthetic learner. Some people don’t process information auditorily (like the education system is based on) and instead process information visually, or tactilely (touch), or kinesthetically (moving large muscle groups in the body). My grades never reflected how much I was learning, and it has been disheartening for my self-esteem since grades hold so much merit for the first part of our lives. But look at everything I’ve learned regardless because I had to learn how to learn - not something they teach you how to do! It used to control many of my perceptions of self-worth, but I am in the process of rewiring that narrative. However, learning dance, sports, martial arts, etc., always come easily to me. My brain learns through moving my body, so things align and coordinate easier for me than others who do not learn the same way. Some people get math - it clicks. See, there is no right and wrong here; there are only different types of learners, and each has its place in the world. My skill set would be of no use to NASA probably. However, I have found a career that allows me to use my kinesthetic and emotional intelligence strengths to demonstrate my intellectual and academic intelligence further. We all have access to these intelligences; it’s just about finding your formula. 

I hope you can take with you that we are all different types of learners/processors, the body and the brain are not separate when it comes to rewiring and healing, and any physical pain you are experiencing is most likely connected to unresolved emotional pain or trauma. Instead of popping another pill to numb the pain - try exploring what’s there that isn’t being heard, or before writing yourself off as “stupid” - try learning in a different way than is being taught - try somatic healing.