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Moods Of Movement

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Mental peace and physical strength can be achieved through dance. Pranika Sharma tells you about dance movement therapy as an emotional healing aid

Dance is an art form that has evolved into various styles and forms. We know it as a beautiful form of expression. But dance is so much more than that. It is a form of therapy that has healing effects and correlates with emotions. We’re telling you about the therapeutic aspects of dance that come together in dance movement therapy (DMT).

DMT is a form of therapy that makes use of movement and dance to help achieve physical and mental well-being. It works as an expressive form of therapy that looks at the correlation between emotion and movement. In DMT, there is no single form or style; it allows you to be one with your body and focus on even the tiniest body movement.


DMT focuses on behavioural movement, paying close attention to the state of being. Each session starts with warm-ups, leading to observation and assessment of the body and its basic movements, and ending with interventions of dance movements, verbal processing and cool-down phases focused on closure. DMT should be practised only under the guidance of a licensed practitioner. 

Held in a group or individually, a DMT session can either be a structured one to include various forms of dance — such as traditional, ballroom and even some movements of yoga, which allow the body to stretch and come to rest — or it can be a non-directive one, one that makes use of simple movements. The therapy takes an individual through a process that provides them with an all-round therapeutic experience that promotes self-awareness and self-esteem. It provides people with a safe space for expressing their feelings.


DMT is beneficial for both physical and mental health. With the primary focus of improving body image and self-esteem, DMT is also used for stress relief and mood management. It can also help in improving communication skills. As for the physical aspect, DMT helps in developing muscle strength, body coordination and mobility and reduces tension in the muscles.

Through this form of therapy, a person gains an understanding of their body and its functioning, and what it needs to heal. DMT allows an individual to process the very fibre of their being through movement meditation.


Evolving from the 19th century era of modernism, DMT originated as a form of modern dance. Although dance has been used for therapeutic purposes for a thousand years, as the human psyche evolved, people understood that dance movement could be used not simply for expression but to make an emotional connect as well.

Around the 1960s, the philosophy of using dance therapeutically was beginning to show positive effects and thus spread. Practitioners of dance started to believe that dance was more than simply a form of entertainment.


We speak to people involved with dance movement therapy from the city to understand more about the form of therapy.

Language of movements

Dance is its own language. It’s a language humans learnt before they learnt to speak. Dance movement therapists combine this principle with psychological ones and work towards the oneness of body and mind. Physical expression of emotions helps maintain mental balance. Beyond its entertainment value, it is therapeutic, which heals people who involve themselves with movement. The use of dance movement therapy as a line of treatment is increasingly being suggested for an array of conditions.

– Harshita Bhargav, dance movement therapy student

The science of mind and body

Dance movement therapy aims to strengthen the connection between our minds and bodies. This integration is absolutely vital for maintaining good health and building resilience. Given the safe environment of a typical session where all movements are equal, each participant is encouraged to discover moving in their own unique way, thus charting their stories without any pre-decided choreography.

– Sneha Janaki Ramesh, dance movement therapy practitioner

Healing deep scars

People could be dancing like elephants or monkeys with colourful ribbons and letting go of deep trauma. That’s what dance movement therapy can be — a celebration, a catharsis, a letting go of behavioural patterns, a connection with others and connecting with ourselves. With love, and movement.

– Natasha Agrawal, of ThreeLeftFeet, dance movement therapy practitioner

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