Article: Katerina Gikopoulou
Translation: Janette Skembri
English Language and Literature Graduate
‘No language is as clear as body language, once we learn to read it.’
Dance, not only as a form of art but as a therapy method as well, is something that deeply interests me. It conceals some kind of magic… And I thought I should not keep it to myself!
A body without the ‘I’, the spirit and an ‘I’ with no body… Can we suggest that this is plausible? No! The body inspires the ‘I’ and in turn the ‘I’ inspires the body. The body and the spirit are intertwined. The connection of the bodily elements that exist in the environment as well as of the psychological, which are not tangible, cannot happen in any other way than through movement, which ‘binds’ the body to the world. Phenomenologists today bring to life the double meaning the term body seems to have. What does this mean? Man ‘has a body’ which means it is something he owns, in other words he is in a process of understanding his body in the context of understanding himself.
Dance is often used as a therapeutic method in Psychology. Why, though? What does it offer? In what way? Dance is obedience to our body, I’ve learnt. And in the end it probably is. At least that is what I think. I touch the untouchable, the ephemeral, the sensitivity. The study of the body during the dance move connotes a form of communication with the world. As it happens with all forms of arts dance is also a path of expression, need, release. Of course, its therapeutic worth is not related to dance shows or to its educational character. One could state that its main goal is to push towards the exploration of the body and its secrets, of the phrases we’ve put aside, of the kinetic creativity… And all these start functioning again. ‘Envying speech, movement runs after thought asking her to contribute as well’ says Bergson. So this is what the psychotherapeutic method is trying to activate through dance.
Speaking as a ‘veteran’ ballerina, I have concluded that dance is a form of expression of freedom… Freedom of movement, liberation of thought. ‘To dance means to fight against anything bothering me and bringing me down, it means that along with my body I am discovering the senses, the soul, it means I come into direct contact with freedom’ (Barrault). As an aspiring psychologist, I support expression in every way. And dance is a street accessible to all. Our every movement reveals an emotion, while each part of our body is participating.
Dance regenerates life through an ecstatically expressive movement, according to Wingman. In which way, then, can this form of therapy be put to action today? Let’s proceed to the more practical part. The methods used are similar to those of the rest art-forms: the attempt of regaining communication with the self, overcoming any denial which mental illness can create, the exceedance of personal creativity as well as the integration in a team activity. The plan is simple: A team of ‘patients’, usually uniform, a satisfying number of nurses-helpers, an appropriate room, a psychotherapist and of course…music! The ‘motto’ is also simple: ‘express yourselves by listening to music, let yourself free…’it is not easy for everyone in the beginning. It is observed however that gradually the majority ‘let go’. The psychotherapeutic result can be summarized in a few words: liberation from a risky situation, trust towards the self, inspiration and means for the accomplishment of a goal and boosting towards the wish of belonging to a team.
Because dance is communication; communication with the self. And I am not only referring to the level of art but also to the level of therapy. Following many research and applications its contribution is evident. Through it, the ability of communication, co-existence and expression are unfolded; the ability of helping each other, of understanding, of co-operation. Let’s think about this better… Not only in pathological situations but also in non pathological, all these appear right in front of us. We do not have to be experts to trace them. We do not have to be ill in order to feel them. Psychopathology leaves. We stay. The people. All so alike yet so different. Each a different self, a different ‘I’ co-existing with its body. A whole, a totality obeying rhythm, dance. An individual whole through which it becomes total. As we are, as we should be in reality. A whole without inequity. Standing alike and equal in front of what can heal us, can rejuvenate us.
Massoutre, G. (2004). L’atelier du danseur. Québec: FIDES.
Veardeau-Pailles, J., Kieffer, M. (2006). L’expression corporelle, musique et psychothérapie. Paris: Fuzeau