My first workshop began at 7PM and had a total of 14 participants. They were encouraged to find a spot where ever they felt most comfortable, and although there was room to spread out, a group of these participants insisted on laying all together. It was their time to do what they needed to do for themselves, so I did not have a problem with it. There were a couple of participants that had heard of Dance/Movement Therapy before starting the workshop, but I still gave a little background information and explained the overall goal of the workshop. Everyone seemed to be on board and I was ready to begin.
This is where I began to learn the importance of never assuming a person’s behavior. In this workshop, I had a problem with the usage of cellphones. Not only were a group of girls texting, but they were showing each other videos and socializing. This was distracting for myself as well as others, and it was something I never thought would happen. I regret that I did not say anything to those who had their phones out, but in that moment, I was not sure what actions to take. After all, I did say to take the time during the workshop to explore what movements and emotions they wanted to, so I did not want to be contradicting. But it was a problem.
Other than that, I learned a lot through this first session. I experimented with the way I articulated words and phrases, I became more aware of having a variety of descriptions about each guided movement activity, and most of all I was able to observe how my words truly influenced their movements. What I witnessed in this group, was a certain amount of playfulness and curiosity towards creating a community within exploring their own emotions. Even those who came to the workshop without knowing anyone were still drawn to the presence of others and seemed most engaged in the community aspect of the workshop.
After the workshop, I spoke with the participants and received positive feedback. I received a quote from one of the participants stating, “I really wish that somatic movement education and therapy was further integrated into our society, as I have found it extremely beneficial. Somatic movement/dance therapy feels unique to me because the participant has full control over the situation, allowing for a level of comfort and self awareness that is really hard to achieve in other therapeutic systems. I felt that the session was a time for me to pause my busy life and check in with myself and my body to see what I needed and go from there, and that experience was different for everyone and we all had the space to do that. I also felt that it could have been a great community-building experience, but a few of the participants chose to have their cell phones out and use them throughout the session, which in some ways violated the safe space we had created. My favorite thing about dance class and movement therapy is the opportunity to be fully human with myself and others, without needing technology to mediate our relationships, and I feel that the participants who used their phones missed out on that amazing opportunity. I noticed that some participants were more willing to be honest and fearless than others, and that’s totally ok and expected. It made me appreciate the relationship of respect that I have worked hard to develop between my soul and my body, and I felt safe in exploring the suggestions and committing to the experience. I came away from the session feeling refreshed and aware of myself, and wishing that sessions like this were available more often to more people. I truly believe that further implementing somatic/dance movement therapy into our healthcare system greatly benefit our community.” (Group #1 Participant.)