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A critical review of contemporary dance/movement therapy

By Nicolette Du Plessis


This critical review aims to describe and define the field of dance/movement therapy. Attention is paid to central issues in psychology and dance studies which influence the advancement of the modality. Dance/movement therapy is a young profession, developed during the second half of this century, and must be viewed within the socio-cultural context of contemporary western industrialized societies. This work therefore firstly documents the development of dance/movement therapy in the light of recent studies into the nature of bodily expression and non-verbal communication. The phenomenological understanding of the human body is discussed, and the concept of bodyliness proposed in order to encapsulate a multi-dimensional understanding of the meanings of the human body. Dance/movement therapy is then delineated in relation to verbal psychotherapeutic traditions, as well as to the more marginalized body therapies. In this way it is hoped to provide an understanding of the historical precedents and theoretical contexts within which dance/movement therapy is emerging, and ultimately the possibly unique alternative service it may provide. As wide a variety as possible of theoretical approaches in dance/movement therapy is then described, and classified according to the predominant psychological orientation of the proponents. From this a critical review is attempted which is directed broadly at foundational considerations of the profession, rather than at any particular methodology. The enquiry focusses on directions for future possible research which will ensure sound theoretical frames of reference for the developing profession. Discussion of two examples of dance being used in the therapeutic context in South Africa concludes. This section is not a judgmental evaluation of techniques, but intended rather as documentation and broad classification of current work of this nature.

Topics: BF Psychology, PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
Year: 1991
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