Why did you choose to become a dance therapist? What motivated you?
At first, it’s because I really like art and dance. I was intrigued to use these two passions as a new medium to channel personal development, self-discovery and pleasure through creativity and movement. Secondly, I was looking for an artistic training that would help me enhance the potential and the integral beauty of a person with a view to well-being. I wanted to develop my skills as a health professional to advance in my career and work with a new vision that would be more open on social and humanist points of view.
Did your goals change during the training? How? 'Or' What?
Yes, surprisingly, despite my repertoire and my diversity of knowledge in various dance styles, the training allowed me to broaden, complement, integrate, and adapt dance in a therapeutic context in ways that I did not expect. At first, my goal was to acquire tools that would add a psychological / philosophical touch to the dance. Dance therapy is different from my approach which was more somatic, where I was more oriented towards observing and being physically and mentally aware of micromovements. Dance therapy offers an approach that can be complementary to this one to help people to externalize and express their emotions through movement rather than remaining in self-observation. I realized that my goal of acquiring tools turned into how to understand and apply these principles in everyday life to make the benefits of dance and dance therapy accessible even to the non-dancer.
The training has allowed me to learn a lot about dance therapy, but also about myself. So, my goals transformed into observing how dance therapy and understanding the new concepts I learned impacted me throughout this adventure. Throughout the training, I grew up as an individual and as a professional, I understood that it is important to have confidence in yourself and in the cues that the body gives to be ready to adapt our interventions according to the group or the individual, because everyone is unique. Today, I feel more solid, authentic, and confident in my abilities as a "leader" and as a dance therapist.
What additional tools have you acquired?
A better knowledge of my skills and qualities as a dance therapist: I have learnt to work better individually and in groups, while respecting and adapting to the different physical states and moods of the participants. I have acquired knowledge to use new (non-verbal) communication tools through dance and movement involving various parts of the body. I have learnt to adapt these new tools according to the different populations (children, adults, people with mental health issues, on the autism spectrum, or with an intellectual disability, etc.). I have acquired an even greater repertoire of basic movements and various dance styles. I have learnt to structure, to guide, and to intervene in moving sessions. I have developed my observation and relationship skills and refined my quality of movement. I feel prepared to assist and develop a process with a group or an individual and therefore to use my creativity according to different contexts.
What do you remember from the sharing that you had with your teachers and within your cohort?
I was fortunate to have teachers who opened for us the limitless universe of dance possibilities. They were able to support the group in the process of learning this profession. In contact with the participant of my cohort, I was able to grow, share and live human experiences in a mutual feeling of respect, openness and listening. The global pandemic situation has brought its fare part of complexities and despite everything we have been able to live together experiences of life and share.
I also realize that the training gave me the opportunity to meet various professional profiles such as professionals in neuroscience, sociology, occupational therapists, psychologists, dance artists, social workers, health professionals, etc. Meeting our teachers, pioneers in dance therapy in the United States, added another element to the richness of the exchanges and conversations we had together.
Where is your career vision following this program and, in the years, to come?
I have just finished the training and have not yet defined the population that I would like to specialize with, but I certainly have a curiosity to work with different types of population. First, I would like to work with people who suffer from isolation and find ways in them to create moments of joy and connection. Then, I would like to bring dance therapy to teenagers suffering from anxiety due to serious illnesses, such as, for example, cancer. I would also like to share through dance therapy in primary and secondary schools to increase the well-being of young people, especially in this context where there is the need to address and express different themes that have appeared with health measures in the context of the pandemic. Possibly one day also work for the Grands Ballets Canadiens as a dance therapist.
What are the challenges you foresee in the future?
Making these moments of joy and happiness accessible through dance therapy. I would like to get to share the vision of this practice as health care. Help people to have self-confidence, to bring out unexplored aspects of their personality, to learn to value themselves and to reconnect with themselves through movement.
What advice would you like to give to a new student in the program?
It is true that training gives you very practical tools to go through the training process, but you must be already personally and artistically prepared for the intensity of the workload of these studies. Alternative Route training requires physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual commitment that involves holistic personal growth, and you must prepare for doing the work on yourself. It is a great training which requires being open-minded and receptive to living experiences within a group, to discovering oneself and above all to working very rigorously.
A new cohort will join the program in July 2022. We are happy to see, for a fourth time, students taking part in a program like ours and then helping us share the benefits of dance with varied populations.