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Community Dance and Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP)

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

All together now!

Community Dance, what’s it all about? It’s about getting together as a group to dance, and from that having a sense of cohesion, identity, belonging and inclusion. It is not necessarily about performing, as in the case of Flomotion. It is more about having a shared experience where we all contribute, belong and make the experience happen.

Typically, Community Dance is aimed at minority and vulnerable groups in society to provide opportunities that would not otherwise be available, for example in under-privileged ethnic groups and older people with dementia. The benefits to wellbeing are plentiful and well researched.

Benefits of Community Dance

By dancing together as a group, we motivate each other to move and keep going; we feel less lonely; we can express who we really are without the usual social inhibitors.

Community Dance and Wellbeing

On a physiological level, community dance is good for heart and lung health, increased muscular strength, stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis, improved co-ordination and flexibility. On a psychological and emotional level, community dance improves mood, self-esteem and general psychological wellbeing.

Being Social

On a social level, it is a great way to meet people and improve social skills. On a spiritual level, community dance helps us to go beyond the normal constraints of our individuality; we lose our sense of disconnection and can experience ourselves as pure ecstatic energy.

Community Dance is Inclusive

Community dance transcends differences of culture, age, disability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. By dancing together we create community; a space, a place where everyone can feel included, and can in turn move and include their own feelings, thoughts and physical sensations, responding to the music and each other with our bodies.

Types of Community Dance

Community Dance is not about any specific type of dance but is more concerned with engaging people to be creative and connect with others through their moving body. It can involve performance, talking, watching and learning about dance, although in Flomotion we approach community dance more as a practice. Participants do not need to want to work in the field of dance or perform to a set standard.

In every case, it is as much about finding expression for a community as creating a community through dance.

History of Community Dance

People have been dancing together in groups, forging connection and bonding, since human history began, so in that sense Community Dance is literally as old as the hills. However, the term Community Dance emerged in the mid-70s and 80s in the USA following the ideological shifts prompted by the Civil Rights, Peace, Environmental, and Women’s Liberation Movements.

Conventions of every sort were being challenged, including those around race, class and gender. Since that time, Community Dance has orientated itself to being of the people and for the people

and has embraced dance as a catalyst for change.

Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP)

DMP is a different but not unrelated discipline. It emphasises the moving and dancing body to promote creative engagement in emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration. It is practised in groups or on a one-to-one basis in settings such as healthcare, education, social care as well as in private practise.

How does DMP work?

The DMP therapist encourages clients to use movement to express feelings and experience. This provides the content and framework of the therapy, with the client leading this and the therapist supporting and challenging through their own movement. The idea is that the body becomes the client’s vehicle for self-expression thus forming a bridge between emotion and motion for healing.

How is DMP different from regular dancing?

When we dance, as well as having fun and letting our hair down, we inevitably express ourselves though our movement. However, in DMP, we are encouraged to be more aware or mindful of the movement that is happening. By drawing out certain of the client’s dance or movements, the therapist may identify patterns that suggest a mental or emotional pattern to be noted or challenged.

Examples of DMP

DMP therapy can be found in contexts such as groups of elderly people with dementia, helping them to find meaning and expression through music and movement rather than through words which can be challenging. Research shows that DMP is also successful for people suffering with Parkinson’s Disease because it encourages a helpful mix of social, mental, physical and emotional engagement. Other contexts where DMP has been evidenced as useful are with people suffering from PTSD, war-affected refugee children, young people in special education, those with enduring mental health difficulties and more.

Find out more on our FAQ section on the Home page or come along and try a Flomotion session with the like-minded.

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