Panel Explores Dance/Movement Therapy

Sarah Lawrence College presents a panel on dance/movement therapy, the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance,entitled SLC to Dance/Movement Therapy: Why Are We Here? The panel discussion, hosted by the College’s dance program, is an opportunity for students and guests to learn about a dance-related profession in which several former dance students are making major contributions. The program will be held on Monday, September 24 from 3:45 – 5:15 p.m. in the College’s Bessie Schonberg Dance Theater. The panel will be led by Cathy Appel, class of ’80, and will include Deborah Thomas ’49, Sharon Chaiklin ’55, Linni Deihl ’62, Mimi Leeds ’78, and Theodora Thatcher ’78. A reception with the panelists follows.

Panel members are all distinguished professionals with long careers in the field of dance/movement therapy and have practiced, taught and published widely. Ms. Thomas and Ms. Chaiklin are two of three graduates of the College who, in 1966, were founding members of the American Dance Therapy Association, the first organization in the world to establish and maintain standards of professional education and competence in the field. Ms. Appel is finishing her fourth year as co-editor of the American Journal of Dance Therapy. Among all the dance programs in the world, Sarah Lawrence has the largest number of graduates in the profession.

Ms. Appel has designed a panel intended to explore with students and others five decades of the Sarah Lawrence experience and to examine the long-standing relationship between the College’s dance program and the field of dance/movement therapy—especially whether there are aspects of the Sarah Lawrence education, particularly in dance, that prepare students to be in the forefront of the profession. A hallmark of a Sarah Lawrence education is close student-faculty interaction and interdisciplinary study.

Dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance through which a person is able to engage creatively in a process to further his or her emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration.  It is founded on the principle that movement reflects the individual’s patterns of thinking and feeling. By acknowledging and supporting the client’s movements, the therapist encourages development and integration of new adaptive movement patterns, together with the emotional experiences that accompany such changes. Dance/movement therapists work with a wide variety of people, including those who are emotionally distressed, struggling with learning disabilities or suffering physical or emotional illness, or those who simply want to use the medium for personal growth. Dance itself can provide symbolic expression and transformation that have been shown to improve functioning for individuals with emotional, behavioral, medical and physical conditions.

Sara Rudner, director of the Sarah Lawrence dance program, commented: “We are extremely grateful that Cathy Appel has organized such an important event. Our students will benefit enormously from the opportunity to learn first-hand from accomplished professionals who were once dance students here like themselves about a growing and flourishing field that our own alumnae have done so much to advance.”

The panel will be occurring the week of the 42nd Annual Conference of the American Dance Therapy Association, to be held in Brooklyn, New York, September 27-30, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.