Céline Verchère is a graduate from the 3rd cohort of the Alternate Route and a facilitator at the NCDT. Last summer, she led a TEDxSherbrooke conference on the influence of dance onour theoretical learnings. In this article, she presents her journey and her understanding of the enhancement of movement and body awareness in critical thinking and research.
A political scientist and sociologist by training, I have been pursuing a career in research for more than 20 years now, first in France and then in Canada. At the same time, as far as I can remember, I have always danced. As a child, as a teenager, then as an adult, I touched on several styles before opening my horizons to somatic and mindfulness practices. It is therefore with great joy that I joined the Alternate Route program of the National Center for Dance Therapy at the Grands Ballets Canadiens (2019-2021), with the aim of enriching and giving a framework to my knowledge of the body, the movement and of dance at the service of human well-being and development.
I learned. and I was also deeply transformed by this training, which is based on the assumption of a unified approach of the body and the mind generating knowledge. After this training, it became difficult for me to work within the research environment, where the Cartesian approach takes precedence. It seems that, since the 17th century, thinking (i.e. generating scientific knowledge) amounts to withdrawing from the body, to moving away from any emotion that would prevent us from reasoning objectively (the famous "I think therefore I am"). However, we all know it in dance- therapy: putting the body in movement makes it possible to produce knowledge. But what knowledge, exactly? This is the whole purpose of the TEDx conference that I presented in June 2022 at the University of Sherbrooke (UdS) and whose title is "Apprendre par corps". The hypothesis that I defend is that the knowledge of the body is a knowledge of the Fair, the Reasonable and the Care: through my body, in connection with my thoughts and my emotions, I am in a better capacity to point out what is reasonable to do (for example in my research) in relation to the world around me.
It is therefore in two movements that I am today. It consists in recognizing the interest of “classical” research (for example in neuroscience) to support developments in dance/movement therapy and to promote the dissemination of this knowledge. But it is also, conversely, considering dance/movement therapy as a solid base allowing access to a practice of the Sensible, where the experience of the body and its movements (intra/intercorporal) leads to an increased awareness of oneself and the world and to recognize its ethical and political significance. Dance/movement therapy, beyond the usual practice in an intervention context, can also be considered as a vector of social and cultural change. By learning to recognize what moves and moves them, anyone engaged in “the movement” becomes aware of what it means to orient themselves in the world from this embodied knowledge; they become aware of the roles, power and influence that push them to act, as well as the mechanisms of alliances and tacit threat; they can decide to do otherwise (mobilize an unprecedented range of movements). They can finally decide to create new avenues and act as an actor of change.
This knowledge is undervalued in research. Today, it is essential, in my opinion, as we are going through major transitions (such as climate change) and the question of the “impact” of research arises with renewed acuity. I dream of a world where we will train students, all disciplines combined, in the knowledge of the body and movement, of a world where researchers will have learned to make use of this sensitive, embodied knowledge, of the relationship to the world. In that world, collectively, we will develop an “active conscience”. We will then perhaps be more armed and able to "take care" collectively, of ourselves, of others, of the planet. " I dream? Maybe! But to the impossible, we must aim! Dancing to think of the world differently: let's do it!