Dance/Movement & Active Imagination: Personal, Cultural & Archetypal Dimensions

October 24, 2015

San Diego, California

Saturday Morning Panel (seminar D-7). 10:30-12:30

Conference Information:

ADTA Conferrence_DancersPresenters:

  • Joan Chodorow, PhD, BC-DMT
  • Linda Aaron-Cort, MA, BC-DMT
  • Cynthia Berrol, PhD, BC-DMT
  • Sandy Dibbell-Hope, PhD, BC-DMT
  • Nancy Gurian, LMFT, BC-DMT
  • Ellen Searle LeBel, LMFT, CST-T, BC-DMT
  • Tina Stromsted, PhD, LMFT, LPCC, BC-DMT

This panel presentation is based on the cross-cultural psychology of C. G. Jung, the analytic method of active imagination, and Authentic Movement as one of the branches of dance/movement therapy. Reflecting years of seminar study and discussion, we embrace shared teaching, presenting, and moving together.

Our process illuminates transgenerational, multi-cultural and other dimensions of human development. We have studied and explored the ancestors, early memories, the multi-sensory nature of the psyche, the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious (including the cultural unconscious and cultural complexes), with special attention to moods and emotions contained by diverse perspectives on the mover-witness relationship. Experiential explorations of these and other topics, an important component of the seminars, includes various practices, encompassing elements of authentic movement, improvisation, sandplay, art, journaling, as well as elements of choreography that may emerge as repeatable choreographic themes.

This panel presentation will comprise two primary components: lecture/discussion, and brief experiential amplifications drawn from the contributions of Mary Whitehouse, Trudi Schoop and other DMT pioneers. Each of the seven panelists will present on one aspect of Dance/ Movement and Active Imagination.


Joan Chodorow: The Moving, Embodied Self and the World

For many years now, my colleagues and I have been inspired and informed by the multisensory nature of DMT, Jung’s analytical method of active creative imagination (embodied self) and the Archetypal Affect System, a theory of the emotions, their forms of expression and their role in psychological / symbolic development (Stewart and Stewart 1979). The archetypal affect system is an important and useful theory because the connections proposed between the emotions, the ego functions and the symbolic cultural attitudes do exist.

The overall working hypothesis is this. All of the higher functions of the psyche have evolved from joy, interest and surprise as they modulate and transform the affects of crisis and survival. This modulating process can be seen in the cycle of rupture and repair between parent and infant. It is also seen in play, dreams, fantasy, active imagination and creative imagination. The natural process of symbolic development transforms the emotions into a sensitive network of feelings and complexes and, ultimately, the evolved values and expressive patterns of human culture.

Ellen Searle LeBel: Playing in the Garden of the Soul

Dance/movement therapy and Active Imagination help people restore and develop the capacity to play deeply, which is essential to healthy human development through the life span. Play engages our bodies and imagination, awakens unexpressed emotions and symbolically expresses our conscious and unconscious experiences. We play in solitude or with others, spontaneously or with commitment. But circumstances of crisis, neglect, illness or injury foreclose the ability to play, to dance, to feel whole.

The garden metaphorically represents the safe place where we play in our imagination and grow. This presentation describes the shared therapeutic foundation of Authentic Movement, Active Imagination and Sandplay Therapy evident in the interplay of multi-sensory experience, imagery and metaphor, integration of ego and self, archetypal affects, and the importance of witnessing in the therapeutic relationship.

Linda Aaron-Cort: Dancing Images: Discovery and Amplification of our gestures

As Dance/movement therapists we share a fundamental belief that each human being has his/her own unique movement expression, which communicates feelings, perceptions, and attitudes about the self and the world. The gestures and movement that emerge as we invite our clients to move are absolutely meaningful. In this presentation, I will speak about what I have learned through experiencing authentic movement and Jung’s analytic method of active imagination as sources for movement and gestures to be discovered, explored, seen, and understood.

Specific focus will be given to the dialogue between movement, drawing, and sharing gestures in a group as a way to amplify images and movement. As both witness and mover, this has been essential for personal and professional integration of movement with didactic material. The exploration of myths, fairy tales, and archetypal imagery has enlivened both individual and collective movement experiences, and also provided a connection to universal themes of change and transformation. Our seminar continues as a container for our professional growth and our emerging dances.

Nancy Gurian: Emotions

Emotions are primary in our lives. They impact all aspects of our existence including our thoughts, our behaviors and our primary drives of life. It is through our feelings that we can express ourselves and be understood by others. There is a physiology to our feelings. They are expressed in our facial expressions and in our bodies. We can access our feelings through moving alone or together with others. Active Imagination which taps into inner experiences through attention to sensations, images and fantasies is a rich source of information. Improvisational dance and the mover – witness relationship in authentic movement encourage exploration of our inner selves and help to identify and amplify what is of value to us in the moment.

The fascinating aspect to moving our feelings is that there can be a compensatory movement, word or image that can contrast the primary feeling, working as a bridge to heal and transform the experience. This presentation will describe a movement dyad that was transformative with focus on a specific emotion that evolved from the experience.

Cynthia Berrol: Symbolic Cultural Attitudes

Addressing the cultural attitudes based on Joseph Henderson’s constructs, we will view them within the context of the Jungian based collective unconscious, the conceptual premise undergirding the archetype—the universal structures or scaffolding common to all humans—not influenced by conscious experience. In contrast, the personal unconscious, shaped by buried experiences, existed at one point on a conscious level. The cultural unconscious, Henderson proposes, mediates between the collective unconscious and the personal unconscious.

Overt cultural patterns differ among and between diverse communal/societal groups, their representative rituals—myths, fairy tales et cetera—share common threads, linking them on a universal level. These offer fertile ground for active imagination and expression. Rooted in the Jungian archetypal affect system, one, representing “The Sacred”, manifests as religion. Woven into the fabric of each culture is a story of creation, shaping the rules, rituals and values that guide day-to-day existence. Henderson’s five cultural attitudes include: the religious, the social, the aesthetic, the philosophical, and the central, self-reflective psychological attitude. We will examine the fluidity of these attitudes through the lens of our complex global world.

Sandy Dibbell-Hope: The Integration of Clinical Psychology, Mindfulness and Active Imagination in Psychotherapy

“Psychotherapy” can be understood as “caring for the spirit and soul.” It requires a skilled and sensitive focus on mind, body and spirit; an attunement between practitioner and patient; a balance between craft and art; and trust in the process. After 30 years of professional practice as a clinical psychologist, dance therapist and expressive arts therapist, with a personal daily meditation practice, I have found that an effective approach for a successful outcome in psychotherapy is an integration of psychology, mindfulness , and the arts.

To illustrate, I will present the case of a young woman who came to therapy because she was distraught and depressed over a recent breakup with a boyfriend who left her after three years because she was “too emotionally demanding, needy and controlling.” I used a combination of Cognitive-Behavioral and Object Relations therapy, somatic awareness and mindfulness, and Jung’s Active Imagination, including dance, art, writing and sandtray to help her heal from this recent shock and an early underlying abandonment experience.

Tina Stromsted: Embodied Alchemy: Authentic Movement & the Somatic Unconscious

Alchemy, an ancient cross cultural practice integrating physical, spiritual, and psychological elements, was rediscovered by C.G. Jung as he sought to understand the images in dreams. Jung noted that reappearing images heralded changes in the embodied psyche, reflecting a deeper transformative process at work. Alchemy’s basic elements can deepen our understanding of embodied healing, experienced spontaneously through the practice of Authentic Movement, a therapeutic and body/mind meditative practice with roots in C.G. Jung’s active imagination approach. Both practices bring awareness to what we least value—base matter, known as prima materia by the alchemists and as unconscious ‘shadow’ qualities by Jung.

Providing an ancient map of the stages in the transformative / individuation process, alchemical practice uses the ‘dross’ of unwanted material to generate new life. Such a map can help orient people in their therapeutic work, particularly when they are immersed in unconscious material. In this brief presentation, I will discuss the Alchemical metaphor in relation to the embodied individuation process in healing and development through moving and witnessing practice.