Participant Profiles

Women and men from all over the country, Canada and abroad, ages 18-90, and from a wide range of backgrounds have taken these programs – artists of all kinds, psychotherapists, college professors, social workers, dance therapists, Yoga teachers, somatic practitioners, administrators, professional religious, architects, Hospice workers, school teachers, physicians and midwives.

P. works as a consultant to organizations throughout the United States. As a younger man, he was involved in the arts, but his busy professional life left him little time for artistic endeavors. When he first studied Contemplative Dance, he described the experience as “coming home.” Over time, he has developed a consistent Contemplative Dance practice that he says keeps him in touch with more of who he is and has brought him back to writing poetry, particularly haiku. At the same time, he has incorporated many of the principles of Contemplative Dance into his work with organizations and has begun to develop ways to work with people in the business world that include the body.

E. is a sister in a religious community who created a retreat center where she and others offer a wide variety of workshops focused on spirituality for professional religious and for lay people. Since completing the Year-Long Program, she has worked with religious people who have long had conflicted relationships with their bodies. It is her belief that illness is often the manifestation of this ambivalence about the body, and Contemplative Dance is a way for members of this community to develop a more loving relationship to their bodies.

T. is a tenured professor of science at an Ivy League university. When his father died, Contemplative Dance offered him a framework for grieving. He was able to experience in movement the presence of his father, grieve his passing, and then, knowing that he could find him in a gesture, T. was able to carry his movement process full circle to embody in another gesture a new sense of himself as a father to his two daughters. The connections from father to son/father of daughters arose spontaneously in his movement as one gesture led into the other. Also, he and his wife feel they have gained a new level of intimacy in their marriage from practicing Contemplative Dance.

C. worked as an administrator in a state agency for most of her adult life. Born with a severe form of scoliosis, she was in pain much of the time. Contemplative Dance, with its emphasis on moving from an internal impulse, allowed her to explore a range of movement and contact with others that she had never experienced before. Being witnessed by others in a compassionate way healed much of her self-consciousness about her body and its differences and led her to draw and to develop her writing. After participating in the Year-Long Program, she decided to leave her job to devote herself to developing a one-woman show of art, poetry and movement that addressed the issues of being a woman with a disability in this culture.