SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras for CIDs

A Dance Movement Exploration 

Maria Sangiorgi

Dance Movement Therapist  Adv. Dip. IDTIA – Australia 

CIDS Dance Therapy Congress, Athens 2012

. . . is Inspired by

  • Traditional Egyptian Dance and all oriental dance forms.
  • The primary source of movement to all of life and the universe : spirals, curves and waves and vibrations
  • Indigenous dance from all over the world
  • The inner movement and shaping of the all body systems; fluid, skeletal, muscular etc., the spiralling DNA
  • Spiritual  Connection – Esoteric Healing – Kundalini – Energy Centres / Chakras – Energy Field
  • Dance Movement Therapy

MY somatic exploration

  • Alexander Technique
  • Body Mind Centring
  • Ideokinisis
  • Authentic Movement
  • Feldenkrais
  • Laban
  • Ritual/Shamanic Dance
  • Butoh
  • Embodied Bellydance®
  • Dance Movement Therapy
  • Continuum Movement

Embodied Bellydance®

Embodied bellydance® (EBD) is a format I have developed from 23 years of teaching Bellydance. It holds the same linage  as SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras, but focuses on teaching dance technique, whilst embracing a therapeutic model which includes woking with the Chakras.

In turn SFD the Charka is influenced by EBD. It uses exercises related to particular body parts that are the home of each Chakra as a part of the warm up 

Raqs sharqi 

Raqs means Dance in Arabic

Sharqi mean East

It follow the same principals of spirals curves and waves. Mimic the double helix of DNA; the spiralling structure of our bones, muscles, connective tissue, blood flow and so on. The spiralling nature of the Universe and the weaving and spinning of the Energy Centres or Chakric Centres of our bodies. 

Raqs Sharqi and the Chakric system both move energy up and down the spine, weaving and spinning around the  central axis called the Sushumna Nadi,.There are also the left and the right channels; the Ida and Pingala Nadis.

 Raqs Baladi

  • Baladi means of the People
  • Raqs Baladi was born on the streets of Cairo around the turn of the 20th century. In its purity it is an improvised dance to improvised music. Baladi  music is akin to American Blues, Spanish Flamenco and Greek Rembetika. 
  • It is commonly danced on the spot

combined systems

raqs Charka

Raqs Baladi, is the physical manifestation of the weaving journey through the Chakras as was mentioned before. 

At first the work was called Raqs Chakra with a focus on Bellydance. Over time the work progressed to a DMT  process that I together with my group of loyal attendees named SensingFeelingDancing the Charkas. (SFD the Chakras)

Photo courtesy of

The Chakras

The 7 main Chakras are energy centres located along the spine, from the tail bone to the top of the head. Also called the Subtle system.

Candace Pert in her book “Molecules of Emotion” (who has work with dance therapist including Dr Levathal) calls the Chakras the minibrain. she says “These minibrains reside in the midline of your body, where there is also an endocrine gland and a major nerve plexus. The seven endocrine glands are fed by their associated chakras. The endocrine glands manufacture hormones and supply them to the bloodstream, where they are carried to the organs and tissues in your body. The seven nerve plexuses, which are also located along your spinal cord, are responsible for transmitting nerve impulses. They are also dense with neuropeptides. 

Neuropeptides have been dubbed the “molecules of emotion” as they are the chemistry associated with our emotions. They do not rely on transmission through the nervous system. If you are experiencing happiness, for example, you will find neuropeptides associated with happiness in your body; if you are sad, there will be ”sad” neuropeptides in your body, and so forth.

Each of the seven areas that contain these structures can be seen as a model of the bodymind. Your endocrine gland represents your body; the neuropeptides your emotions; the nerve plexus correlates with your mind; the subtle energy of the chakra correlates with your spirit.  

If a chakra is damaged it may cause disruption in the function of its associated endocrine gland. And, because the activity of the endocrine glands and nerve plexuses is interrelated and interdependent, if an endocrine gland isn’t functioning properly, it may affect your entire bodymind.”

One must also take care working with the Chakras, Judy Jacka in her book Synthesis of Healing states that, “The Base Chakra houses the Kundalini ‘fire’, which rises up the spine after all the Chakras have become activated and vitalised.  It can be raised prematurely by unwise meditation practices, such as concentrating for long periods on the lower Chakras or through the use of hallucinogenic drugs: if this happens serious health problems can result” 

Base Chakra

Muladhara Charka

Governed by the Adrenal glands, bones and the Spine

Pre-birth – Choosing to be Born

Standing Present Rooted to Earth

Will to Survive

Element – Earth

Colour – Red

The Seat of the Kundalini

Sacral Chakra

Svadhisthana Charka

Governed by the Reproductive Organs

Relationship to other & the world

Childhood – Innocence

Joy – Gay Abandon

Wise use of Food, Sex & Money 

Element Water

Colour Orange

Solar Plexus Chakra

Manipura Charka

Governed by the Panaceas and the digestive system. 

The sweetness in our lives

Desires, wants, needs & greed

I stand in my Power


Element Fire

Colour Yellow

Heart Chakra

Anahata Charka

Governed by the Heart & Thymus gland. 

Unconditional & transpersonal love for self and others


Balance by the solar plexus manifesting wisdom – love

Element Air

Colour Green

Throat Chakra

Vishuddha Chakra

Governed by the thyroid and Para thyroid glands

The seat of communication


Words and the voice of silence

Creative expression

Balanced by the Sacral centre manifesting Creative Intelligence

Element Ether

Colour Blue

Third Eye Chakra

Ajna Charka

Governed by the Pituitary gland

The Conductor of all the energy centres

Synthesis of our Journey

The way in

Inner and outer vision

Mediative state, door to inner peace

Element Light

Colour Indigo

Crown Charka

Sahasrara Chakra

Governed by Pineal Gland

Spiritual home

At one with God/Universe 

Know thy true Purpose

Balanced with the Base manifesting as Spiritual Will

Element Thought

Colour Violet / White

Sahasrara Chakra

Governed by Pineal Gland

Spiritual home

At one with God/Universe 

Know thy true Purpose

Balanced with the Base manifesting as Spiritual Will

Element Thought

Colour Violet / White

Eighth charka

The Etheric Soul Centre around 12 cm above the crown. Returning home to the source. 

The total of the souls journey. 

Connecting the past, present and future. 


the chakras

Sensing our way through the Chakras, we acknowledge our deep & potentially transforming feelings 

feeling where that takes us now today through Movement & dance

dancing the expression of what we feel & Sense

Sensing our truth in the feeling

feeling the need to dance


Sensing feelindancing

Five part session  in the tradition of Dr Marcia Levanthal IDTIA training.

Warm up:  Sit in a circle; Setting intention through Diamond Meditation*.  Guided meditation & visualisation through the charkas with emphasis on the featured chakra, attuning to the physical, emotional and spiritual selves

Release: Moving into the featured chakra using Embodied Bellydance® framework

*Diamond Meditation, is based on the use of Triangles of light in Esoteric Healing. In this work it is used to connect members of the group to a common goal and to a global matrix of other being working with the same intention. THE GOOD OF ALL. 

Theme: Dancing the featured chakra, facilitated through music and questions and statements given by me that are answered with dance, drawing and writing. 

Centring: Grounding and bringing consciousness back to the present and the group. Dancing as a group. Finding a conclusion through dance, drawing and writing. 

Closure: back to the circle. Sharing a movement Sitting sharing experience of dance, drawing, writing.  Closing meditation. 

*Diamond Meditation, is based on the use of Triangles of light in Esoteric Healing. In this work it is used to connect members of the group to a common goal and to a global matrix of other being working with the same intention. THE GOOD OF ALL. 

My personal exploration

This experience proved to be more than I expected for a number of reasons, one is that it allowed me to really participate in my own work and  to consolidate the years I had spent facilitating this for others.

Dancing the Charkas also involved preparing a loop for music that went for 1/2 an hour for each dance. As I want through the process of looping together the music, I was visualising the potential of each track. I really enjoyed that I was putting together this music for me and no one else. Although now that it is done it is ready to be shared with others.

I would close the door to my movement room and enter  the dance and as the dance entered me, the rest of my life melted away. 

There was only me, no responsibility for other. I danced with the intention, the gift that each Chakra gave me. Always coming back to the whole.  My overall experience was that it did not matter what state I was in when I entered the dance, tired, angry, happy and so on, I came out each time  feeling uplifted and revitalised. The dance bought up many things, sadness, negative emotions, insights etc. I danced them to another level. As I danced the drawings began to appear in my mind.  I began to draw as soon as the music stopped, I did not always finish them there and then so the dance continued. 

Breathing into the Bones into the legs into the earth.

A dance of the spine undulating close to the ground to the sound of earth ancient sounds of the Didgeridoo. 

Grounding: Feeling weight strongly with all the weight on one leg then the other. 

Dancing with percussive instruments

A dance of the feet  and legs pounding the ground, make a statement to heavy rhythmic drums.

Moving through space with purpose. The feet know where to go

Breathing into the fluid system, into the pelvis.

Legs supporting the pelvis, together creating circles and figure 8 movements. Music rhythmic and fluid. 

Dancing the fluid feeling of water as it moves in, around and through the pelvic bown.  Music sensual and slow.

Dancing the fast rhythmic movement of the legs as they shake from the ground up shaking the water of the pelvic bowl. Releasing the organs in in the Pelvic area

Leaping hoping skipping.

Music fluid, fun, sensual, sexy. 

Breathing into Belly the Navel 

Breathing into the organs of the belly. 

Moving from the organs

Emotional music. 

Opening an closing from the navel/belly Moving in all directions from the navel, lying down, standing up. horizontally vertically. 

Determined music with personality

Dancing the  the “I” the vertical self sagital self.

Dancing the warm of the sun in your belly. 

Breathing deeply into the Lungs

Feeling the palms of the hands. 

Open arms open hands lifting to the heavens supported by the lungs, radiating out from the Heart and back again.

Light airy music.  Music that pulls at your heart strings, that make you cry. Music that is uplifting that files you with joy. 

Dancing with  Veils. Dancing with out stretched arms. Feeling like a tree with branches and leaves blowing in the wind.  

Feeling the heart open and vulnerable

Sounding Chanting with no music, allowing the sound to become movement. 

circling the throat and the shoulders. Dancing the face the mouth the ears the nose

music that has vocals, music that makes you sing. music that inspires you creative senses and also connects your throat to the pelvis. 

introducing smells and things to taste. 

drawing, writing, making, creating to your dance

Eyes closed breathing and looking into the music. Introspective music looking into your centres 

Through your inner vision conducting the your body parts 

Following your intuition.

Dancing blinded folded.

Allowing the whole body to relax release and enter a trance like state and abandon one self to the music. Music repetitive and spiritually up lifting

Turning and Spinning, Sufi dance. 

Connecting to the whole self. seeing visions, aspirations, dreams, allowing them to move you. 

Finding the centre axis the centre of self. Breathing the whole, keep coming back to the whole.

Moving the connection between Earth and heaven

Music angelic, mystical, spiritual. 

Dancing the impressions that come into your mind/thoughts. 

The Solar Plexus Dance

The following is description of a short experiential that I facilitation at the Dance Movement Therapy Conference in 2007.

The Solar Plexus Charka being the“I” charka and the feeling centre,  also hold part of the beginning. 

Before we are bones (base Charka) before we touch the earth, we are Navel/Belly.

From the Navel we are attached to our mother In Utero via the Umbilical Cord.

I used principals of Embodied Bellydance® and inspired by Body Mind Centrings – “Navel Radiation”  Everything begins with or move through the navel. Navel as a primary source of movement that sends waves of energy undulates through and from the navel, radiating in all directions. 

Opening and closing like a flower. 

The Navel is the Driver

“Spine-navel” – behind the navel in front of the spine

All facilitated by the BREATH

Feel the support of the floor

Validating bones, soften and release them.

Guided visualisation to connect each Charka to the Solar Plexus charka

Breathing in the Navel rises to the ceiling , breathing out the navel falls to the floor

An effective way to engage to whole physical and mental body quickly

Be a ballon full of water.  As you breath in the water fills the whole ballon. As you breath out you deflate, empty.

Imagine that the ballon is being rolled by another;

Feel the water tipping from one side to the other from one end to the other.

coming back to the breath and the Navel

The Breath

Creating  a deep connection to expanding and contracting, with the belly/navel as the centre or the motor that drives the movement.

Include limbs, head and tail.  

What do I want, what do I need

The music changed. The predominant theme was expanding and contracting, opening and closing to feel the support of the Solar Plexus.  

I can feel it in my Gut

As the music became more rhythmic and trance like, and got faster and faster, so did the dance.  

The process ended with time for the movers to consolidate by drawing and writing, finishing in a feedback circle, where I asked each person to share their process using three words. 

What participants from weekly sessions  had to say about SFD the Chakras

Taking this journey through my body, and my soul/my self, connected me as a whole and drew my attention to parts of me I had neglected/abused/over-indulged, the colours; the music; the drawing all pulled this together in the ONE that is ME –

Judith Kavermann  Implementation Co-ordinator VP

My experience of dancing the Chakras allowed me to integrate a traumatic event that had occurred in my life and helped me find connection and healing within my body, mind and spirit. 

 I remember the safe and sacred space that was created to allow me to explore the Charkas though movement and creativity. I loved the freedom of expression. I was humbled by the support I found in the other women of the group. It opened my heart, mind and body to new possibilities. I really enjoyed the experience and it has inspired me greatly, the dancing and you Maria have played a large role in who I am today and what I aspire to be as a therapist. 

Sarah Crisp – Transpersonal art therapy student

 It was beautiful.  I loved the way you harmonised the colours of the props with the relevant chakra colour, and provided music and  activities that were totally appropriate to the function of that chakra.  It felt as though it pulled  energy from all over my body to be channelled to and through that chakra, so that I got a much clearer sense of the feeling and function of the chakra. 

Helena McCallum Psychologist

We were all deeply connected in joyful self expression. it has been a profoundly unforgettable experience.  

Naomi Martin, Massage Therapist, Mother

It was my life blood when working through difficult times, a profound way to communicate with my soul and a wondorous healing practice in a beautifully held and supported environment. 

Andrea ,(Participated in the dance for 5 years, accident trauma victim )

“I was able to connect with so many deep and joyous parts of myself, dance is such a liberating form to immerse yourself in, and for this I’m always grateful to Maria for opening up a space where I could feel free to explore my soul without fear.” 

Jessica – poet and mother of two


Taking into consideration what Candace Pert’s research has found about  neuropeptides – “Molecules of Emotion”,  we need to understand the Chakras as an intrinsic part of the healing mechanism. They are not an abstract notion but something real and concrete. Then there is no better way than the creative arts especially movement and dance to give the neuropeptides the good time feeling they need to help us to be. By using the personality of each of the Chakras give us a beautiful palet of expressions for movement and dance to assist in the transformation and change that movement and dance gives. 


Candace B. Pert PhD, Molecules of Emotion, The Science behind Mind-Body Medicine. Scribner, 1997

Judy Jacka, p. 58, Synthesis in Healing, 2003.

Didgeridoo music is deep and earthy 

The circular breathy drone of the Didgeridoo helps to connect to gravity.

Go slow

“What do I want, What do I need”

What’s in a Name?

This article is based on an Email dialogue between Amera from Amera’s palace in Sydney and my self that took place early 2001, in between our busy live and her computer crashing. 

I was inspired to write about our discussions because while Amera and I share the common ground of Middle Eastern dance, the way we dance and what influences us are very different, but between us there is a willingness to accept each other and our passion for what we do. 

The topic of our conversation was,  the  confusion around the different names, who calls what what? Why? Predominately what the title Raqs Sharqi represents and perhaps some light on the subject.

I have included excerpts from our conversations and my own research and thoughts on the subject. We would love to hear what any one else has to say about this subject.

Amera was distressed when a girl came to the shop and asked her what the difference between Raqs Sharqi and Belly dance was and what did it all mean. The Style of dance the girl was referring to was ‘Hilal Raqs Sharqi’, the girl had been to a workshop with a Hilal Raqs Sharqi  teacher. The girl was confused, and this is where it goes from here. . .

Amera told her “As long as you dance, love it and dance”

Amera wrote, “I call myself an Oriental dancer, in Arabic I’ll say Raks Sharqi, and if you still don’t know what Oriental is I’ll say Belly – what’s in a name, call it what you want, and do the best you can!”

I call myself an Egyptian dancer or Raqs Sharqi dancer. Because I believe more and more that I am possessed by the Spirit of an Egyptian gypsy with a big belly and my style has very traditional base.

I am very influenced by Hilal Raqs Sharqi. Of all the workshop I have attend the Hilal School Workshops are the ones that are closest to my heart as far as the style of dance goes,  but I am not of the school. The school of Hilal Raqs Sharqi in the past has uses the Title Raqs Sharqi as if it is just their dance and that is part of where the confusion lies. It is more appropriate when they call it Hilal Raqs Sharqi or Hilal Technique or Hilal Art, as Suraya hilal does herself now.

A brief glossary

Raqs Sharqi:- Arabic term or Eastern or Oriental Dance  nick name ‘Sharri’

Raqs Baladi:- The dance of the people (if in Egypt it is the dance of theEgyptian people if in Tunisia is the the Tunisian people etc.)

Raqs Sha’abi:- Folk Dance of the Country people; Popular dance – The Felahin and Saiddi (that is in Egypt). Shaabi os also what is popular today.

Oriental dance:- Many people like to use this title, Ibrahim Farrah used this title, but as Amera said sometimes people get it confused and associate oriental with Asia.

Middle Eastern Dance:– A very popular alternate title to Belly Dance.

Belly Dance:– This is the most common title known. Every one understands it, but sometimes what they understand is not what you want them to understand. In its purity, it is the style that marries all the styles of Middle Eastern dance and is largely influenced by America. It was originally called Le Dance du Ventre Meaning belly dance in French. One of the reason why the Hilal School of Raqs Sharqi disassociates itself from this name is because it does have so many connotations, and sometimes in the name of Belly Dance, the art has been bastardised and exploited for many reason, which in fact it has, (but that is another story).

Belly Dance can be so many things, depend on your influence and preferred style. It has grown changed evolved as has everything else.

I said to Amera “What I am interested in talking about with you, is the way you see the different styles. Like how who you define the style you dance and people who are you contemporaries, and how you would define the way I dance? and how do you see them fitting into the history of this dance.”

Amera said to me “I think that the different styles are just an extension of people and there personalities, then there is the pioneers of different styles, taking as far back as Samia Gamal, Nayima Akaif, Taheya Carioca, then going into the 70’s Nagua Fouad, and to many others like Mona Said, Zizi Mustapha,Aza Sherif, going into the 80s people like Aida Nour and Fifi Abdou, 90’s-Lucy, Dina,  Then there are people outside Egypt, that have made a huge difference to the dance, like Suraya Hilal, that have put western knowledge into it – but have tried to separate it in teaching and give the students other things to think about, and give them room to judge it – why should it be like that why put a divide in it in this part of history ?

Already, religion and social status in the middle east, put women down because they become dancers or singers, why now do it in Western society, we can move ahead in other areas of our lives, we now have colour TV not black and white, we all use email, this is a part of moving forward.”

Amera talked about the pioneers of different styles. Those that she has mentioned, are the dancers of the mid 19 hundreds, because that is the style that she is influenced by.  My influence is more of the Folk or Gypsy root that goes back even further. And the Earlier Baladi, which is where  some of those stars like Fifi Abdo came from.

When Amera talks about the influence people have had outside of Egypt and mentions Suraya Hilal, what she is concerned about is not what they are teaching as far as teaching the dance. Hilal has done a lot to promote the roots of Egyptian Raqs Sharqi – predominately in her Shaabi and Baladi styles  and marries very contemporary ways of teaching. The problem is the political content. That is reflected in anyone who comes into contact with the school. They love the style so much, and either become completely engrossed in the politics or very confused. If you become a student of Hilal raqs Sharqi you are required to relinquish contact and dissociate oneself from any other form of Middle Eastern dance, especially Belly Dance and I am speaking from experience. It is very confusing and sad for some one like myself. You find the dance style you are looking for and it has conditions attached to it, that have nothing the do with the dance its self.

 Amera is right it is the year 2001, why create a divide. Perhaps what we need is more clarification.  In this day and age why not find a way to support each other.  The standard of all forms of MED has improved 100 fold. Lets promote integrity lets create room for better more contemporary ways of teaching and opened people minds. Alas there still is the archaic view of Belly Dancing, where ignorant people associate it with something sordid and sleazy and alas there is still the restaurant owner who wants to keep it that way because he thinks that is what the public want.

As I mentioned earlier, I call my dance Egyptian Dance or Raqs Sharqi. I  prefer to make a distinction between what I dance and teach and Belly Dance. Not because I think it is a sin to be called a Belly Dancer, and many people do call me a Belly Dancer and i let them.

For me the reasons  are practical;- as far as teaching goes, I have a very different approach to teaching than most Belly Dance teaches I know and am aware of. I like to promote my style of dance and explain it so that people come to know that there are many styles. I also don’t relate to what the general public’s definition of a belly dancer is. If someone rings me up looking for a Belly Dancer for a party I usually send someone else because when I ask them what they are looking for,I often don’t fit the bill.

One more reason is that I love the title ‘Raqs Sharqi’ it sounds good, it goes with ‘Flamenco’ and we don’t call Flamenco ‘Foot stomp dance’.

The other side and I have another side, is that ‘Belly Dancer’ is such a commonly used name and there is a  public that just enjoys it for what it is, without a lot of drama. As I said many people refer to me as ‘Maria the Belly dancer’, sometimes I give them the Raqs Sharqi talk and sometimes I just let them go because I know that they just accept it as another valid dance form. In some circles it is a very valid art form, especially amongst artistic, spiritually seeking and creative people and teenagers. My daughters friend think it is great she has a mother who is a Belly Dancer.

As Amera says, call it what you like. As for me I will probably just keep calling it everything.

To finish this story –

Amera’s answer to me when I said that my dance chose me . . .

“I can understand this. Dance does choose who it wants to be a part of and vice a versa, dance is an expression of love, and life”

And I said “As far as appreciating watching a dancer. I enjoy people who dance from their hearts. I really enjoy watching you dance, because you are very sincere, like you are as a person”



Laban & Dance Movement Therapy

Laban terminology as a matrix for organising expressive experience and its relevance to DMT.

 Dancing with the Dusters

When Joan Littlewood asked Laban what attracted him to dance, he replied: “I saw the man polishing a ballroom floor with two dusters tied to his feet.

 “What a lovely job” I thought. “ That is the way I shall go”

(Newlove and Daby p.10,  2004)

To know that Laban chose to become a dancer whilst watching a man polishing the floor with 2 dusters tied to his feet would indicate that a man with this kind of thinking alone that develops a movement language, would lend itself totally to the craft of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). I believe that it is this kind of vision and inspiration that a Dance Movement Therapist needs to hold a client group, let alone the language that Laban gave to the world of dance. The more I explore Laban and know of the way he came to develop his method the more I can understand and embody the language of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA).  Rudolf Laban was born in 1879 in Pratislava, when it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was one of the greatest innovators of his time. Laban was man with immense charisma, who changed the course of dance in the twentieth Centaury. Laban was a great teacher who never stoped learning.

Laban Movement Analysis holds intrinsic value in DMT. Through the use of the Laban language we are able to interpret and describe movement qualities of those we are witnessing in the dance.  LMA draws on the theories of effort and shape to describe interpret and document human movement. Through this common language we are able to speak with peers, colleagues and employers about the movement qualities that we witness in our client populations in a language that everyone understands. The use of the LMA also helps us to think and make quick assessments of what we see, which is a great tool when we are writing about our clients.

Laban a Way of Seeing and Experiencing

Although I am still a fledgling in the understanding of the language of the Laban Efforts, I find that if I think of the Efforts as “the storytellers”, it helps me to grasp the meaning of them. The more I do understand the more it helps me with my groups. I chose this paper because I wanted to become clearer about Laban. I found that drawing up the charts (see bellow) myself this time has given me a stronger connection to the language. Through the process of writing this paper I have began to experience LMA more fulling than ever before. I am more willing to formulate a movement experience for my client groups from a LMA perspective. This is helping me be have a sharper direction in my intervention, It is enabling me to keep a stronger focus and on track with my objectives. One of them being to affect and expand the client’s movement range.

Dunphy and Scott (2003)  talk about the importance of Laban in terms of it being a whole body, expansive in all direction and dimensions dance form.

“Our experience has indicated the merits of the Laban framework’s expressive and expansionistic approach to movement and dance for people with intellectual disabilities. Movement restrictions imposed but physical and congestive disabilities and compounded by sedentary life style and limited choices, make it particularly important that no further restrictions are placed in movement potential.”  (Dumphy, Scott p. 20, 2003)

I work with a group of women with very low energy.

Their energy is:

  • Sustained time – they generally move slowly
  • Heavy weight – They prefer to sit down and carry a lethargic demena
  • Indirect space – they seldom move directly or purposely through space
  • Bound flow – their movements as often staccato and angular with limited range

From this place I can work on simply taking the opposite polarity and choosing a variety of effort qualities

I can use:

  • Slash time – I can give them a short swimming noodles and ask them to hit the each others noodle, or the floor, or the wall this would become, sustained, direct, heavy weight. It would have an impact, I would affect their inertia and also in Riechian terms it would help to move deeper feelings, consciously or unconsciously.
  • Dab /flick  weight – conducting an orchestra to their favourite music with their hands moving from their wrist as their arms move in space in sustained time.
  • Direct Space – walking purposefully across the room. Stomping their feet would add strong weight.
  • Free Flow – Dancing with Peacock feathers to Straus blue Danube

I don’t think one can talk about Laban without adding Irmgard Bartenieff to the equation. As with many great innovative people there is someone there to help them to consolidate the inspirational, creative genius, which is what she did by giving the effort a framework. She then added her own genius that became Bartenieff Fundamental, which I have found much easier to understand and embody. This is because they begin within the body and move out. I am comfortable here, the same way I am comfortable with body Mind Centring, which are much of the same. I love the repatterning system of Bartenieff and exlproation of the development movement pattern of BMC and navel radiation. I am organically drawn to this part of a Laban rooted practice because it is also very much a part of Belly dance and is also what I use to teach bellydance. Bellydance in turn has been a great tool for me in my  DMT work. I draw on it often.

Kinesphere: the area that the body is moving within and how the mover is paying attention to it.

I love the term Kinesphere. We can take the Efforts and apply them to a persons Kinesphere and we can see by looking at the body part separately and as a whole what is happening. We can see the connection they have to their movement qualities and help them to understand what they are by mirroring back to them and then expanding then and giving them back.

In conclusion, through doing this paper I am much the wiser and more confident with Laban MA. This is also because over the years of simple keeping it in mind even when I did not feel it flowing, has helped me to find my way into it. I think the penny has nearly dropped as my shorthand teacher used to say, When the penny drops.

Laban System of Efforts

Polarities / Factors
Time Quick / Sustained
Weight Heavy / Light
Space Direct / Indirect
Flow Bound / Free


Effort Qualities

Time Weight Space Flow
Press Sustained Heavy Direct Bound
Punch Quick Heavy Direct Bound
Dab Quick Light Direct Free
Flick Quick Light Indirect Free
Slash Quick Heavy Indirect Free
Wring Sustained Heavy Indirect Bound
Float Sustained Light Indirect Free
Glide Sustained Light Direct Free
Light <> Strong          Indirect <> Direct         Urgent  <> Sustained          Bound  <> Free
Light Indulgent/expansive intention in weight Delicate of fine to touch
Strong Fighting/condensing intention in weight Having an impact
Indirect Indulgent/expansive attention in space Flexible, multi-overlapping foci
Direct Fighting/condensing attention in space To the point, aimed, blunt
Urgent Fighting/condensing decision in time Spark-like excited, rushed
Sustained Indulgent/expansive decision in time Leisurely, prolonged, endless
Bound Fighting/condensing emotions or continuity Careful restrained, controlled
Free indulgent/expansive emotions or continuity Abandoned, uncontrolled, unlimited
A combination of equal parts of 2 Effort Elements
Weight + Flow Dream State Light/Free. Strong/Free. Light/Bound, Strong/Bound
Space + Time Awake State Indirect/Sustained, Direct/Sustained, Indirect/Urgent, Direct/Urgent
Time + Weight Rhythm State Sustained/Light, Sustained/Strong, Urgent/Light, Urgent/Strong
Space + Flow Remote State Indirect/free, Indirect/Bound, Direct/Free, Direct/Bound
Time + Flow Mobile State Urgent/Free, Urgent/Bound, Sustained/Free, Sustained/Bound
Weight + Space Stable State Strong/Direct, Strong/Indirect, LIght/Direct, Light/Indirect
A combination of equal parts of three Effort Elements
Action Drives: Equal parts of Space, Weight & Time. Only Acton Drives are provided with individual names for each combination
Strong Weight + Direct Space + Urgent Time Punch Action Drive
Light Weight + Direct Space + Urgent Time Dab Action Drive
Strong Weight + Indirect Space + Urgent Time Slash Action Drive
Light Weight + Indirect Space + Urgent Time Flick Action Drive
Strong Weight + Direct Space + Sustained Time Press Action Drive
Light Weight + Direct Space + Sustained Time Glide Action Drive
Strong Weight + Indirect Space + Sustained Time Wring Action Drive
Light Weight + Indirect Space + Sustained Time Float Action Drive
Transformation Drives
Weight + Time + Flow Passion Drive
Time + Space + Flow Vision Drive
Weight + Space + Flow Spell Drive



Dumphy, K & Scott, J (2003) Chapter 2, Creative dance using a Laban-based approach, Freedom to Move, Maclennan + Petty


“Holding” a DMT exploration

How “holding” becomes accessed and developed in DMT;

i.e. how “holding”, a key concept of object relations is translated into an energy model.

Maria Sangiorgi

The Good Enough Poem

I see you

I hear you

you are a good enough child

I am a good enough mother

what do you need?

I can hold you enough

I can hold you as long as it take for you to

walk on your own 2 feet

I will hold your hand if you need

I will stay as long as you need

No rush

One day you will go

I will help you to go


you are a good enough child


I am a good enough mother

Maria Sangiorgi 2011

The act of “holding” a therapeutic dance movement space is full of riches. As I experience this through the work that I do with my groups, I feel a great sense of reverence at being a container, a vessel, a “good-enough mother” to my groups. This particularly applies to my homeless women with schizophrenia, who are very damage, traumatised and marginalised.

“The good-enough ‘mother’ (not necessarily the infant’s own mother) is one who makes active adaptations to the infant’s needs, active adaptations that gradually lessen according to the infant’s growing ability to account for failure of adaptation, and to tolerate the results of frustration.” (Winnicott p 13, 1971)

The concept of holding is very powerful. The word itself says it all, whether it be through a Winnicott framework or simply what it means to hold, which is to support, to contain. For me holding has an alchemical or magical quality.

One of the skills that I received from the Levanthal quantum-based therapeutic model is the intention to hold energetically. This involves my strong clear intention; the things that I do that cannot be seen but are potently directed to the holding of the client. Creating a space to allow the client’s dance to unfold, and then to hold them in that dance, makes the foundation for my DMT practice.

The minute I walk into the building at the Prague house I am holding my intention to hold the group. I am mindful of them. I place a row of yoga dots (rubber coloured circles) along a corridor to the room that I work in, and I also place a dot at the door of each woman, whether they frequent the group or not. Some come all the time, some occasionally and some never. Over time those dots have drawn a couple of women into the room. Through those dots I hold all the women in Prague house. Maybe if I was to be there for a long time I would draw many more to the room with the dots. This is a population that is seldom ready to join in. Simply getting them to arrive is a dance in itself.

I set up the room and play the same tune each time so when they arrive even if I am not there, perhaps because I have gone to find one of them, they know that I am there. The music is like a baby sitter that takes care of them till I return. They know that I will return. Every week I bring organic fruit and home grown herbal teas, with the intention of offering them some high vibrational nourishment that is lacking in their everyday diet. I hold the safe space for them, I care about them, they are women who have not been cared for. This is a time for women only, the door is propped open as they arrive and then closed when they are all in. Through the continuous repetition, the dots, the music, and the food, I have created a pattern and set the environment. These things represent my relationship with them even in my absence

In this safe space of acceptance they can bring their damaged idiosyncratic selves. Two may be physically present and wanting to participate but very lethargic, one may be asleep, one may enter the room, stay for a while, maybe dance, then leave; one may leave when the music comes on, one may sit outside the room for a time, and then disappear. These are the many variables I am holding when I work with these women affected by schizophrenia.

I compare this situation to a mother with five children, each one with different needs and personality. I am the good enough mother who meets then at the place they are at and accepts them, whilst holding my intention to engage them in a dance, a dance that as I become more skilled, I draw from them, not impose on them. In the holding, I am also aware that the more they trust me the more they will play out the damaged part of themselves; they can become demanding, manipulative and aggressive.

In Winnicott’s theoretical writings, he emphasises empathy, imagination, play and, in the words of philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who has been a proponent of his work, “the highly particular transactions that constitute love between two imperfect people”. (Winnicott p 146, 1973)

What a wonderful revelation, two imperfect people. As a therapist it is important to accept that I do not know the answers, but I can be good enough and I am good enough.

In my opinion the following are the entwining of Winnicott’s Therapist’s Presence with the Quantum Healing Dance:

  • listen and learn – I listen to them through their bodies and their movement, I learn who they are and I mirror that back to them though movement. Then I expand that movement so they know that they can reach higher, further, deeper than they thought.
  • the non-intrusive mother who is present but lets her child play – the presence from a place of not-knowing – I am there in the room with them, not expecting anything from them, allowing their dance to develop, and trusting the process.
  • leaving time and space for the Real Self to emerge – The real self comes through time, trust and consistency.
  • the space in between, “a period of hesitation” where the client discovers himself, his play, and the other, and learns to deal with his own anxiety, and builds his new self. – This allowing the spaces in-between is part of the energetic holding, a space for the Quantum Healing Dance to occur. In this timeless place held in the structure, the room, the chair, the Newtonian, I am ready to see and seize the dance, their dance. I follow them, I mirror the dance back to them and they expand it and I expand it and another dance evolves. As outlined in Leventhal’s Chart 1 “Healing = a balance and mix of elements from each paradigm; a journey into the mysterious unknown.” (Lev, 2008 p. 6)
  • the good enough mother, (who does not need to be the biological mother) – in this case the therapist, who makes mistakes but tries to be present, without squashing or shoving, allowing the client’s real self to surface.


Sometimes, with some of them, turning up to the session at all is the dance. If I expect anything else of them I lose them. I do have to wait for them to come to the dance. I hold as the mother who responds to the child and lets the child gradually develop and progress.

Over time I have seen beautiful things happen in that holding. Through the Quantum Healing Dance, the spaces in-between, through my patient waiting, I have witnessed an emergence of the self. These women, with their very limited body expression, have improvised a dance of their own. This was possible because I have provided them with a space where they feel held and safe.




Winnicott D. W. (1971), Transitional objects and transitional phenomena, Playing and Reality, in Routledge Classics 1971, volume 13, page 13.


Winnicott D. W. (1973), The Child, the Family, and the Outside World (Middlesex) p.146


Leventhal, M (2008), ‘Transformation and Healing Through Dance Therapy: The Challenge and imperative of Holding a Vision”, American Journal of Dance Therapy Vol 30, pp.4-23 [modified version of a speech given at the ADTA 42nd Annual Conference, September 2007, Brooklyn New York]



A Personal Dance Movement Therapy Exploration

Describe, outline and communicate, from your personal observation and response to the movement process. Link and analyse, the movement experience of at least one of the Eight Theoretical Principals of Dance Movement Therapy (1995) of Dr Marcia B. Leventhal. Reflect and evaluate the relevance and value of the principles that you have chosen in light of your movement experience, reading, from Dance Movement Therapy theory and practice.


I came to the module in a new skin. I had shed over 20 kilos. I wore my clothes with confidence. I had recreated a body structure that was familiar to me 12 years ago. My limbs moved in a way that I had forgotten. My bones were the same bones but the joints now again, have the space to bend and fold as they did before. There was no longer this feeling of great effort and restrictions that had placed an enormous strain on my mobility. I had shed the layers of fat that had protected me but at the same time taken away my sense of whole self and confidence. As I moved through each of the experientials I found that my theme was centred very much on the issues of my identity, over eating and specifically my intestinal constipation. This became the focus of my primary movement experience, which I have linked, analysed and discussed in this paper. I am using a number of the Eight Theoretical Principals of Dance Movement Therapy (1995) of Dr Marcia B. Leventhal. I have named each principal as I relate to it and describe and give light to my experience. I have reflected and evaluated the value of my chosen principles to give meaning to my experience.


1. Constructive Rest Experiential

During the Constructive Rest experiential I felt very at home. I always find that it permits me to reinvent myself. It is a rejuvenating process that allows all of the cells in my body to arrange themselves so that I have the opportunity to be in a place of Primary Control. . (Gleb, M. J., 1994 p 44)“ Primary Control is a dynamic ever-changing relationship that functions all the time, for better or worse in every position. Yet some positions of the body are obviously better than others in terms of both their practical efficiency and their effect on functioning.” I can be totally present in my body and mind. It is like a meditation, a spiritual process. I am held in an experience that allows the natural spiralling patterns to work through me and take me where I need to go to heal and align to my “best self” to my free flowing self. From here I can also find Navel Radiation and can move through the Starfish Pattern. I used it as my support through most of the experiential. When I am conscious and in a dance/movement space my perception of Navel Radiation has become nearly second nature to me. (Cohen Bainbridge, B., 1993 P17)“Navel radiation, the second pattern, establishes the navel as a centre through which all the extremities relate individually and to each other.” From here I can find breath, bones, organs, muscles and fluids support. It is this active place of rest that allows me to know who I am and where I need to go next. Through being held by other, which was Jane and the person I was paired with, during the module, I was moved to the source of my healing. A journey that weaves the layers of my “quantum self” between the past, the present and the future. I feel that the first Theoretical principle underpins this process.

Principle One: The body, the mind and the spiritual aspects of our personalties are in constant and continual connection and integration. This three-dimensional state of our deepest essence is foundational and core to all healing and change; insight gleaned on one modality will impact or affect experience, perception and/or movement expression in each others modality.

Action follows thought. This is a spiritual experience that through this right action a divine course of events takes place that creates healing. During the process my body, mind and spirit are weaving and interacting through being held and guided with intention. My intention, Jane’s intention and the connection to the Spirit. In this active still Quantum state that is held with intention is deep healing and change takes place.


2. My Digestive System

From my Journal

My digestive system

Filling my self up

Looking for sweetness.

From child hood no sweetness, abuse mistrust. Worry responsibility.

Filling my self up with the joy of eating.

Eliminating slow to let go, afraid to let go. Hereditary.

Over weight, armouring, family pattern. Over eating family pattern.

Oral obsession Masochistic tendency

Fulfilment in life. Trust myself

The 9 sphincters of the body.


The main movement process that I have worked through and reflected upon is the Digestive system. This process began with the Endocrine Dance. Through the exploration of the Endocrine System my focus was taken into the Pancreas and belly area. The theme that began there became the prelude for the Digestive System dance and continued during and after watching the mothers and babies DVDs. During the Endocrine dance I went into my food issues, the over eating, the taking in and the letting go. Taking in too much and not letting go. Taking in so much that it becomes difficult to eliminate it all. I played with the connection and support that each gland gave to the other, always being mindful of the connection between the glands and the chakras.

The digestive system experiential took me to a deep place. It deepened the eating issues that I had begun to experience in the Endocrine Dance. Taking in, letting go, anger, rage, sweetness, happiness, sadness, watching the journey through each section of the digestive tract as it passed through each sphincter and made its way along the elaborate path from beginning to end.

Taking in through the mouth and swallowing.

I reflected on how much I have swallowed and taken in on the physical and emotional levels. The speed at which I still eat, as if I am being chased and as if it is all going to disappear. The emotional feeling of eating, depending on what, how and when. If I feel guilty about eating, I become tense in the stomach and I want to get it over and done with as soon as possible so that I can move on or move away from the food. The half chewed half digested food reaches the stomach that is tense. That tension is debilitating.

My stomach feels so much.

I danced my stomach. I left my body weight behind but I still carry the anxiety, feelings and challenges. My stomach churns the food and breaks it down and sends it on its way through the rest of the process. I tried to see it, to watch it move through each sphincter through each process.

3. Mother and Babies

From a vulnerable place I watched the mothers and babies DVD that Elizabeth Laughlin has show us as part of the module. I felt the collective experience of the group as they watched too. I began to identify with the mother’s internal anger and rage. As a young mother I had experience depression whilst begin pregnant alone with my second child. I did not parent well at that time. The trauma that I was experiencing at that time awoke in me the memory of being sexual abused as a very young child that had lain dormant until then.

(Pert, 1997, p 273) “When emotions are expressed – which is to say that the biochemical’s that are the substrate of emotion are flowing freely – all systems are united and make whole. When emotions are repressed, denied not allowed to be what they maybe, our network pathways get blocked, stopping the flow of the vital fell-good, unifying chemicals that run both our biology and our behaviour. This is the state of unhealed feeling we want so desperately to escape from . . . .”

I used pot to escape from my pain and felt so alone and unsupported except for my sister, it did not even occur to me to look for professional assistance. Although the Mothers and babies part of the module won’t be written about in this paper, I feel that it needed to be mentioned. It had an enormous affect on me for the duration of the module and I am still processing it now. It is also entwined with the process of my digestive system and all that is being analysed in this paper.

4. My healing dance

What is this dance? What is my new dance and the lightness that I feel?

At a later time I decided to dance my digestive system again. I began in my mouth. Dancing on my soft tongue, exploring the sponginess of it and its mobility and rolling action. I danced the sides of my mouth my gums and I played my teeth like instruments. I gave attention to the time that it takes to chew my food and to feel all the sensations.

Later on when I ate I observed that I had a strong feeling in my mouth of where the food went as I chewed. I observed that if I was not contemplative or mindful I would feel anxiety in my intestine. This gave me a new perspective: it was definitely my intestine and not my stomach that felt the anxiety. I had previously placed a lot of focus on my stomach did not notice my intestine, particularly the small intestine.

As I moved down and through the esophageus I felt ok. It was pretty straightforward. I had a sense of my vocal cords, my pericardium and heart. As I passed by these vital organs I noticed that I was not far away from the emotional, physical, or spiritual state that they were in. These states can be determined by the way that food is digested or situations are digested. When I arrived at my stomach I had to be very clear about opening the door, I did not walk in, I fell in. I began to walk around combing all the filaments, feeling the spongy fluidity of it. Feeling the lining of the stomach, knowing how sensitive it is and that if I eat the wrong food it becomes aggravated. Then I lay down and went into my feelings. I began to weep very deeply; I have had to stomach so much. The times that I have eaten so much and thought to myself how does my stomach handle this? How can I fit any more in? And the parallel in my life experience, how much pain I stomached and how much hurt I have taken in. I stayed there for quite a while and found myself tapping a rhythm on the floor with my hand. I then felt that I needed to dance my stomach to music. I was very clear that I wanted to dance to two particular pieces of music. During the first piece I noticed a pool of tears on the floor. I danced around the tears then rubbed them into the floor. My dance was light, flowing, expansive and lyrical. In the second piece I danced with a silk veil I put over my head and it hung over my whole body and became the lining of my stomach. I pressed into it and turned under it and let it fall and mould itself around my movements. I felt that I could not continue the rest of my journey through my digestive system. The body, mind, and spirit knowing that we could go no further at this point. (Levanthal, M., 1992 p 5) “Dance Movement Therapy works on two tracks simultaneously: 1. The movement – Release and body-self re-education, and 2. The dance – unfolding and creating a new resonation field in which an emerging, larger concept of self may be expressed, realized and gently held”

5. The Intestine dance

In a Dyad the next day I went on. I walked up and down the ascending and descending colon. I walked across and in and out of my small intestine. The Duodenum and the Jejunum. It is a long long journey I thought. But once I got to the first anal sphincter I could not go any further and that is how it is in real life. It often happens that my faeces stop there I can’t let it out, I unconsciously hold onto it as if I want to control it.

I also found my liver and I needed to spend a lot of time there. I walked on it and squeezed it and tapped it and rolled over it. I wanted to squeeze it out. I felt the anger. The words “I feel livered” were coming into my head. I know that my liver has had a lot of stress put on to it but it is actually quite ok at the moment. I feel that whatever is happening around the anal area is very important and significant and when I can dance my way through and out something profound will happen.

Re evaluating now the experiences I can see strong links to Principles Five and Six

6. Principle Five: Becoming aware of maladaptive patterns.

In re-learning how to move expressively we are able to expand as well as become aware of maladaptive patterns

A crushed spirit – feeling ¨unseen, misunderstood and rejected.

By expressing myself through movement I expanded my awareness of how I maladapted I have been, how I established a compensatory mechanism of functioning. How I compensate for the lack of care and affection by stuffing my belly with food to fill up the emptiness of the essential real food missing: love, validation and support.

I became aware of how compressed I was by my family and the foreign culture that I was brought into. These two forces, the family and the outside culture both saying, “who are you, you don’t fit in, you can’t be yourself”. I had to stomach, in a redneck country town being bullied, teased and shamed. Being the first child and the only one who spoke English in the family, I had to take on responsibilities that were beyond my capacity and age. This created tension in my belly that I was not aware of.

My authentic self has always felt rejected by my parents and the world I inhabit. This caused an eternal anger, rebellion, irritation, volcanic explosions and a lot of defensiveness. (Leventhal. 1995 M., p2) In order to survive, we adapt – a form of change, psychological, creative, emotional, physical and spiritual. Even in rebellion against an authority, or various dogma, we wish to please to be recognized, supported. Eventually usually at the cost of feeling real joy, real, satisfaction, real love, we have a loosely constituted persona or “self”, which is accepted to our perceived outside world . . .” Like the last part of my intestines I’ve been saying inside: “no I won’t do what you want”, “I won’t be vulnerable”,” I won’t go where you want me to”. “I won’t shit I will hold on.” From a Reichian point of view, Constipation = compression. My internal movement has been severely compressed and the expression of my real self in outside world has been limited. If I am compressed, the soft tissue is compressed and all the digestive and secretive organs. I don’t move for what I want, I resist to outside pressure. There is a lack of free movement that from my core self towards what satisfies me. I don’t let all the motility develop; a lot of energy is trapped inside and not released. This experience of my blocked movements not only affects my bodily functions, my excretions but also my thinking process, how I think about myself and the way that I think about others. For instance, even if I have an understanding of the eight principles and have the perceptions and the sensations, I hold on and keep them inside, they are in my body, but the brain has not found the words to express the meaning.

Motion – Slow       Energy – Limited       Emotion – Suppressed

7. Principle Two

This movement pattern gave me insight about Principle Two: Our expressive and functional movement do express aspects of our personality, our collective unconscious and our own personal development history; thus by letting the body work through and find themes, – traumas, patterns, and blocks can be accessed and healed (Freud, Reich, Kesternberg)

The way I move reflects the history of my development. The work consists of letting my body find and access the blocks and the traumas through movement. I had a lot of outside pressure on me, It was such a heavy weight.

In Reichian understanding; you crumble or you compress under pressure. There is a thickening of the neck muscles and a shortening of the waist, I wanted to express myself but the outside pressure over weighted me. Because I couldn’t break through, I went back in, I held it inside and I couldn’t mover freely. I had to resist or I would be crushed, so I spent my life resisting, instead of pushing forward. So if someone provokes me then I bring my energy out, I get angry when someone insults me offends me and puts me down. I am so used to react if I was able to and not to act. I don’t take my own initiative to move, a lot of my movement is outer directed not inner directed. I feel like I am the victim. I feel that if I fully move and express myself, I will be on my own with no acceptance, no love, no mother. I lived with the unconscious assumption:

submission = love             freedom = no love.

8. Expanding and Re-establishing contact

Principle Six: Re-learning to move expressively helps us re-establish contact with out inner most being or essence causing an integration of our personality at the deepest level.

I explored this principle experientially in another dyad.

I lay on a bed lifting my legs up and down in a running motion and letting them drop relatively hard into the bed. This action lasted about 5 minutes and made me tired and angry. I felt like I was running up a hill, I could not see the end or the goal and I gave up. That is the story of my life it gets too much and I give up. That is the same body story, I don’t reach the end of the digestive system all the movement stops at the last door. I then did it again but much more slowly whilst I dropped my legs there was much more strength and force. This made me angry and emotional. Angry at all the time that I started things and then became self defeated or let myself be defeated by others. I also expressed anger towards a person that had taken something very big away from me a long time ago that was really important to me, I let myself hit at her with my legs and feet and wanted to hit her chest so that she could feel what she had done. I knew my part in this, in that I gave up and gave it away; I had also given up on expressing the anger that I felt about what had happened. I began to use my voice but my voice was not loud and clear it was a muffled. I did allow it to be loud for a moment but then I felt I had to stop, I could not go on, I could not let it all out.

Evaluating this experience it is clear to me that I am still not allowing my potential to be what it is and also prevent the feelings of rightly directed anger to come out all the way, the same way that happens when I defecate. I incorporated the tension that I felt as a child and it deposited itself around the anal sphincter. The girl that has been compressed and repressed, the child that was running wild and free had to be stopped. I could not let go and release, I could not let the peristaltic wave finish its natural course. The masochist holding of squeezing inside causes bloating and weakens the peristaltic movement.

“The dominant, self-sacrificing mother literally smothers the child, who is made to feel extremely guilty for any attempt to declare his freedom or assert a negative attitude.” (Lowen, 1975, p. 166)


My attempt through this essay is to analyse and make sense of an issue that has plagued me for many years, over eating and chronic constipation. What I have discovered through my own healing dance and movement, done predominantly through dyading, has been mind and soul opening for me. Experiencing and observing at a deeper level the movement process has helped me enormously. I was able to integrate and bring into consciousness how I move inside and outside in the world (Principle Four). It has made me aware of certain masochistic traits of my personality, of unconscious attitudes, but mostly it has given me insight in to the potential of my being and of where I need to expand personally and as a dance movement therapist.


I moved my body in an expressive, feeling, guided and spontaneous way. Following my Digestive track as a metaphor for my life


I gained a new momentum. I expanded my movement range and increased my level of energy.


I felt the emotional response to my movement and danced with, through and towards my feelings. I experienced a number of emotional releases and conscious realisations.




  1. Gleb, M. J., (1994) Body Learning, An introduction to Alexander Technique, Part 2 The Operational Ideas, Primary Control, p 44


  1. Cohen Bainbridge, B., (1993) Sensing, Feeling and Action, The Experientieal Anatomy of Body-Mind Centering. Developmental Patterns, p17


  1. Pert, C., (1997) Molecules of Emotion: why you feel the way you feel. Scribner, Chapter12 Healing and feeling. p 273 & 274.


  1. Leventhal, M., 1992 ‘Knowing and Beyond: Out of the Fragmentation and into the Wholeness, Notes on the Dance Event as a Catalyst for Change and Healing’, in Dance in a Changing World JABADAO, Leeds England, p 5
  2. Levanthal, M., 1992 p 2


  1. Reich, W., (1950) Character Analysis.


  1. Lowen, A., (1975) Bioenergetics: The revolutionary therapy that uses the language of the body to heal the problems of the mind, Chapter 5, Pleasure; A Primary Orientation, p 166





















DIVA – The forming of my Dance Movement Therapy model

The forming of my Dance Movement Therapy model.

Maria Sangiorgi 2009

In this essay I am writing from the point of view of myself as a dancer, dance educator and therapist in training.  I will refer to my budding awareness of the terms “Newtonian” and “Quantum”, and their meaning in terms of my personal experience, and the theoretical frameworks presented to me in the reading material and in the tutorials that took place during Module 7.

In answer to the question and the topic presented I have chosen to talk about:

a)   The personal experience of my journey into Middle Eastern Dance, and then towards facilitating dance movement therapy sessions for intellectually and physically impaired populations.

b)   The development of my work with the Sussex Neighbourhood House group.

c)    How I have begun to develop my own Dance Movement Therapy style through my work with the Sussex Neighbourhood House group and through beginning to train as a Dance Movement Therapist with International Dance Therapy Institute of Australia.

d)   The  “creation” and “vision” that is emerging of my own Dance Therapy model, that has “formed” from the acronym D.I.V.A., after having completed Module 7 coursework and reading in Reader 1:Leventhal, M. (2008) Transformation and Healing Through Dance Therapy: The Challenge and Imperative of Holding the Vision, in American Journal of Dance Therapy, Vol 30, pp. 4-23.

For the purpose of this essay I am using abbreviations to indicate

  • Middle Eastern Dance – MED
  • Dance Movement Therapy – DMT
  • International Dance Therapy Institute of Australia – IDTIA

I will also refer to Dr Marcia Leventhal by first name only when I am writing directly about the Module.

I have always been draw to dance and to the arts in general. I sing, draw, paint, sew, crotchet, write poetry and songs. I also love to be creative with food and in my garden. But it has been dance that has formed most of my working life for the past twenty-one years. Twenty-six years ago a psychic told me that I had previously lived in Egypt and possessed the love of dance and of the desert. I thought that she was describing the way that when I danced, I would completely let go and abandon myself and become immersed in the music; in fact I would become the music. It was not until five years after the reading, when I attended my first belly dance class that what she had told me really hit home. This was the beginning of my journey into MED. My training in Egyptian dance, which is my chosen style in the field of MED, leads me to feel and understand it as an “Energy” dance. During the Module, Marcia read from a number of different pages the definitions of energy and commented on energy generally. Some of the definitions given included:

  • Flowing
  • Feeling
  • Organic/inorganic
  • Unseen by felt
  • Changes depending on environment
  • Felt as vibration / wave
  • Source unlimited

She also talked about the flow needing to be unimpeded for healing to take place. This is my experience of Egyptian dance. When I am immersed in the dance, I feel my body change and I become free flowing organic movement and when the dance is over something has changed.

Later as part of a group of Middle Eastern dancers I began working with Jane Refshauge. We explored the Alexander Technique, Ideokenisis, Anatomy, and Body Mind Centring. Along with Jane and my MED colleagues we formed a Movement Research group and invited other dancers to join us. They brought with them, Laban, Authentic Movement, Shamanic dance practices and Feldenkrais to name a few.

From this work I began to draw a connection between the fundamental aspects of Egyptian Dance and the essence and integrity of the human body. The deeper I went into this dance the more I felt a deep connection to what I believe to be the primary source of movement. It is intrinsic to all indigenous dance styles across the globe – the basis being, curves, spirals, waves, circles, shaking, centred, organic and animal like. I also began to explore the Chakric system. (Spatially, Egyptian Dance is made up of circles, waves and spirals that move through an axis. These mimic the double helix of DNA, the spiralling structure of our bones and muscles, the spiralling nature of the universe and the weaving and spinning of the Energy Centres or Chakric Centres of our bodies (Sangiorgi, 2009, p. 24) I felt that the movement of this dance was the physical manifestation of the path of the Kundalini and a play between each of the 7 main Chakras. It also follows the same patterns as what Body Mind Centring calls, “Navel Radiation” and is supported by what the Alexander Technique calls “Primary Control”. I now call my work “Embodied Bellydance”.

In the past seven years I have been facilitating sessions for intellectually and physically impaired disability groups. This began before I did my Certificate in DMT. My entry into working with this population was via Belly dance, which this population loves. I watched myself grow and change as I learnt more about DMT and I developed my own way of working with these groups. Whilst I have moved away from Egyptian dance as my focus in this work and embraced the DMT approach, I come back to the essence of Egyptian dance time and time again.

One of the groups that I work with on a weekly basis is the Sussex Neighbourhood House, Dance Movement Therapy/ Creative Dance group. This group is managed by Sue Harris of the Sussex Neighbourhood house in Sussex St., Coburg, and belonging to the City of Moreland. The sessions are held at the Pascovale Swimming Pool Hall every Monday evening and run for one and half hours. The group is made up of fifteen adults ranging in ages from late twenties to mid fifties. They are mostly high functioning individuals who are quite coherent and responsive and able to participate freely in all activities. I began working with them at the beginning of the year. This job came to me because I would occasionally be asked to facilitate a belly dance session at a weekly event that the Sussex Neighbourhood house  holds called Friday Friends. When the previous dance facilitator left, the manger asked if I would like the position and I accepted. I made sure that she understood that my work would be in the context of DMT and she agreed. This group has been running for over ten years.

Another part of my dance life is what I call “Dance Journeys for the Awakening Heart”. The two main dances include “The Dance of the Sensual Soul” a women only dance that I began in 1999. The other is called “SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras”, which began in 2003. I do not call myself a Dance Therapist when I hold for these dances or any others that I do, but I do say that I have a Certificate in Dance Movement Therapy. What I have learnt thus far in DMT has definitely given me a greater, clearer, holding capacity and intention. I am looking forward to when I can call myself a Dance Movement Therapist in relation to the work that I have created.

The immersion and abandonment that I previously spoke about refers to when I was in my teens in the seventies. My personal Healing Dance was to rock music. Not a Conscious Healing Dance (Leventhal), because I did not have the knowledge of intention, holding and containing, nor was there someone holding for me. Never the less, it was most definitely a spontaneous healing dance and very much in the Quantum realm. It was “a timeless place, where I unfolded, went into the unknown. It was an energy dance that took me into a transformative, altered state of being. I dance my Soul/Self essence and communed with my higher self”, as out lined in Leventhal’s Chart 1 “Healing = a balance and mix of elements from each paradigm; a journey into the mysterious unknown (Leventhal, 2008 p. 6)

In this course with the IDTIA, we are taught to embrace what is called the Conscious Healing Dance or the Quantum Healing Dance. The healing takes place in the Quantum, whilst being held in a Newtonian framework. Newtonian is referred to as “Core” Dance Movement Therapy, bound by time and space. We work with the known, the concrete, through cause and effect. We use theory to support what we do. We hold using the 5-part session and we are governed by the populations that we are working with. The Body processes we work with are body image/boundaries and sensory and perceptual motor skills. We name the range we are working with: force, time, space and flow. We are in the here and now, for example, standing in a circle feeling our feet on the ground. (See chart Leventhal, 2008, p. 6)

I have spent weeks wondering and pondering how to get my head around writing about my Dance Movement Therapy experience and what it means to me and how to give it form through a theoretical frameworks and what is my model. I saw that I had written the acronym, D.I.V.A in very large letters with the word “study” next to it in my journal. This acronym came from the same speech given by Dr Marcia Leventhal, to represent “ that which dance therapist totally embody” (Leventhal 2008, p.16)

The words are:

  1. Daring
  2. Dedication
  3. Involved
  4. Inventive
  5. Vital
  6. Alive

This is what the acronym means to me and essentially represent the making of my DMT model.

1. Daring

I dare to be myself and embrace all the knowledge and skills that I bring with me to this course and to DMT. I honour that even though the Newtonian way does not come easily to me in my day-to-day living, I do have the ability to combine Newtonian linea elements of DMT. I provide a concrete place, space and time to hold and contain a session. I am able to facilitate in a very practical way for example, bringing people into their bodies and to the here and now. I dare to embrace my intuitive, creative and improvisational skills that allow me to access the Quantum Healing Dance. I often feel that I experience life in a quantum way, especially my creative life. It is like a “fractal.” I am at home in a constantly metamorphosing, changing, molecular structure that is infinite. My limitations are the constraints that are placed upon me by the mechanistic Newtonian world. I have the gift of connectedness to something deep inside of me that is the essence of all my dance experience. It is a part of the flow of the Implicate order, that I am a part of what Bohm calls “life-energy” (Dossey, 1982, p. 182) and that is where the healing takes place.

“Belonging to the Implicate order – the unseen totality” that, says Bohm, “underlies the external world of things and events . . . in which all things are grounded . . . health is the result of the harmonious integration of all the analysable parts which comprise the explicate order-the cells, tissues, organ system and the entire physical body . . . health and harmony, a quality ultimately grounded, as all living things in the totality of the implicate order and not in the particulars themselves.” My perception is that the flow of the Implicate order is the infinite the Quantum and the particulars of the Explicate order is the structure of the Newtonian.

When I am facilitating a session with my disability group I can respond to them on both levels. We stand in a Circle and engage in structured activities that involve physical movement. I dare to take my cues from them or what the moment presents, the Quantum. At a recent session with the Sussex Neighbourhood House group there were a number of participants running late. As we waited for them I asked those present to sit in a circle with me and I pulled out the shakers and rattles that I had brought to be played for our performance piece. I gave them one instrument each and we sang the song that we would be moving to after the warm up. When all had arrived we stood in a circle and I asked them to keep shaking. I had no tangible idea where this was going. I asked Sandra, one of the participants to walk around Jen, another participant and to keep shaking. One of my reasons for using the shakers and rattles is that I feel on a deep cellular level, the sound that they make through the bodies rhythmic action touches something very primordial and shamanic; this simple instrument can shift energy. I asked the others to do the same as Sandra and Jen had done. I then noticed Mark, who is often away from the circle and on this day in the corner. I decided we were all going to go where Mark was and do what he was doing, still shaking the instruments. We all stood against the wall like he was. Mark responded well to this; he smiled. I stood very close to him and asked him gently if he wanted to move. After a few moments without any verbal communication, which is the way Mark is, he suddenly moved into the room and I asked the whole group to follow. From there I chose another person to lead and to move how they wanted and encouraged the others to follow. It was like a crazy samba parade. I would call out someone’s name and we would all turn to follow the person. Each individual got to lead the group. This spontaneous molecular experience got the whole group moving, engaged, connected and happy. This “warm up” had moved into the “release” of a 5-part session before the “theme”, which is the dance piece.

During the module I arrived with a personal theme and that was to be in the NOW. I was greatly inspired by the recording of the book by Eckard Tolle the “Power of Now” that I was listening to daily. It was my personal unfolding, watching my internal dance of focus and distraction. This was the beginning of the exploration of my “Enlightened Discomfort”, which Marcia defined in the Module as “to go beyond the comfort zone to a place of unfoldment; to develop the capacity to ‘hold’ the anxiety until an answer or an image comes to mind”. She also discussed that; “in Shamanic training – you have to be ‘dismembered’ in order to be put back together again … Anxiety can cause a shattering, or things “falling to pieces” that can indicate a changing of patterns: the body’s pattern can soften and drop into new things”. Daring to go deeper into myself into my “Dynesphere”, which Marcia describes as, “what is particular to me, to be still and listening to myself”. I wrote in my journal “I am looking for the NOW, I danced it, found it, I got lead astray and came back”.

2. Dedication

I am dedicated to following my own healing journey and to facilitate, share and teach others what I know in myself to be true and good. For the past 21 years I have been dedicated, devoted and self-motivated to researching and exploring the connection, between the somatic modalities that I wrote about, Egyptian dance, the Chakras, Esoteric Healing, Energy dance and DMT.

In the module during the experiential I found myself going into Egyptian dance. This greatly interested me because it does not always happen. I often avoid it so as to not go into technique. When I facilitate dance journeys I try to steer trained dancers away from technique. This is because they often hide in their technique and don’t allow themselves to go deeper into that place of “enlightened discomfort”. What I experienced in the module came from a place deep inside me. I heard a voice say “this is your healing dance, your home.” This was very important to me.

I fully embrace the dedication of the IDTIA to ensure that the course and its content are relevant and progressive; that we learn and achieve high standards that will take us into the psychotherapeutic realm. I am inspired by the dedication of those involved in DMT to take it and present it as a therapy that stands on its own with its unique qualities that set it apart from other modalities such as Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy.

3. Involved

I need to be involved in the process of my own dance evolution. I need to partake in my professional development, so I can be consciously and clearly involved and present as a skilled dance therapist. I aim to be totally involved with my groups and appreciate and use whatever they bring with them when they enter my space. They are at times, involved in decision-making. Earlier this year I was feeling somewhat dissatisfied with the interventions that I was facilitating with my Sussex group; there was something missing. I asked them to tell me what music they liked. They gave me a varied assortment of old and new rock n roll and pop songs. I diligently found as many of the requested songs and artists as I could, downloaded them and arrived the next week with a good selection of their requests. We met in the circle as usual but instead of a warm up without music, I put the music on, they were so happy and I improvised from there. Some of the tunes are now in our end of the year concert repertoire.

My involvement with the other members of the Advanced Diploma is essential for me to be able to experience the work. This ongoing involvement and interaction with the group will enrich my experience and support my learning during the course. I spent the first movement process of the module very much in my own space, noticing how I did not want to venture out to connect with others. When I engaged with my personal theme of being in the NOW that I mentioned earlier, I saw myself feeling a mixture of emotions: relief, satisfaction, fear, joy and sadness. Before I could meet my fellow dancers I needed to be involved in my own healing dance, to feel and explore those emotions, whilst I was being held and witnessed by Marcia, I was also holding and witnessing myself. Toward the end of the experiential I organically began to unfold and to connect to the group and to any individual in the group that came my way.

I am thrilled to be involved in the revolution of Dance Movement Therapy, this preverbal ancient healing dance, that through my experience thus far I feel intrinsically connected to. Leventhal in her article expresses, “Dance in it healing capacities is one of the oldest forms of healing interventions and experiences known to humankind . . . the power of ritualistic movement, trance excitation and community exultation and release were forms generated and integrated into a culture’s social organization” (Leventhal, 1993, p. 257)

4. Inventive

Inventiveness is what I need to keep my work fresh and alive. I need to be able to pull the rabbit out the hat, to go into a session with a plan and to be able to throw it away and reinvent it on the spot. Usually, this is when the magic happens when suddenly a theme evolves into something rich and satisfying for all. It sometimes feels like God has stepped in and arranged the molecules to create this moment of perfection and it is never to be repeated again. By God I mean the “universal source of all’. Along with inventive I would like to add another I, Inspiration. I feel that the two are close relatives. Breathing in the possibilities and breathing out the inventions.

I enjoyed Marcia’s inventiveness and inspiration during the module. I loved her reminding us that she was working in a Quantum way, allowing each part of the module to unfold whilst being able to deliver what we needed to explore.

5. Vital

Dance Movement Therapy is a vital Primary Therapy. It works with the body and through the experiencing of movement and dance, tapping directly into the deep held emotions that create disease. Therefore psychoanalysis alone does not work, because it is all in the head. The scientist, Candace Pert states in an interview with Lyn Grodzki that: “ The raw emotion is working to be expressed in the body. It’s always moving up the neural access. Up the chakras, if you will, but really up the spinal chord. The need to resist it is coming from the Cortex. All the brain; rationalizing and pushing the energy down . . . The cortex resistance is an attempt to prevent over load . . . The real true emotions that needs to be expressed are in the body, trying to move up and be expressed and thereby integrated. That is why I believe that Psychoanalysis is in a vacuum and doesn’t work. You are spending all your time in to cortex, rather than in your body. You are adding to the resistance (Grodzki, p.4).

.It is Vital that we breathe, when we stop breathing we stop moving. Therefore it is very important to have an awareness of how we breathe and to develop techniques and strategies that help client groups to access a deeper flow of breath in an easy way.

Another vital part of DMT is Authentic Movement. I am excited by my own journey in this over the years, as I watch myself unfold both as the Witness and the Mover. I am becoming much more attuned to the Witness in me. It is extremely important and necessary that I am able to hold and to witness with very clear intention, focus, empathy, neutrality and presence as I can. I enjoy the silence as the witness when the mover speaks at the end. This act makes me feel that I am with the mover on a deep vibrational level that is preverbal and in the Quantum.

Movement is a vital part of our lives, required for the continuation of life. As the slogan says, “move it or loose it”. Vitality, is what I feel when I have moved something deep inside me after a dance.

6. Alive.

Dance Movement Therapy is alive. Dance has been a part of mankind forever and when people have been in the depths of despair, dancing has often been the answer. My mother told me that when there was no food during the Second World War and they were hungry and afraid they would dance. The aliveness of my breath that supports my beating heart, which moves billions of blood cells through my body and no matter how still I am, there is always movement. The awareness of this can become a dance of aliveness. My body knows it all. My body holds the key to all of me and all that I am. We are alive until we stop breathing. While we dance we live and thrive.

To conclude this essay I would like to say that from the process of writing this essay that I have begun to develop my DMT model with much more clarity, conviction and intention than I had before. I have also realized that I am much more Newtonian than I thought I was. I can now consciously and fully embrace the importance of the integration of the Newtonian and Quantum paradigms of which I previously innately and intuitively followed. I look forward to putting all that I have used into practice. I aim to use my knowledge, wide experience and adventurous approach to assist inspire and allow all those who participate in my DMT sessions to realized their own special potential and quality of life.


  1.  Sangiorgi, M., (2009) ‘SensingFeelingDancing the Chakras, Dance Movement Exploration’, Dance Therapy Association of Australia Quarterly, Volume 8, No’s 1 and 2, 2009, p 24 – 26


  1. Leventhal, M., (2008) ‘Transformation and Healing Through Dance Therapy: The Challenge and imperative of Holding a Vision”, American Journal of Dance Therapy Vol 30, pp.4-23 [modified version of a speech given at the ADTA 42nd Annual Conference, September 2007, Brooklyn New York]


  1. Dossey, L., (1982) ‘Health and the Implicate Order’, Space, Time and Medicine, Shambhala Publication, Chapter 2 pp. 181-189


  1. Leventhal, M., (1993) ‘Moving Towards Health: Stages of Therapeutic Unfolding in Dance Movement’, Current Research in Arts Medicine, MedArts International. A Capella Books, USA, pp. 257-261


  1. Grodzki, L., (undated) ‘Approaching a Theory of Emotion – An interview with Candace Pert, Ph.D’, The Primal Psychotherapy page [ON-line]