The Use of Dramatic Activities to Facilitate Dance Therapy with Adolescents
Research has shown that using dance therapy with adolescents needs to be more structured when the adolescent suffers a mood or behavior disorder. Making a circle of all participants is rarely a good idea with this type of population and instead need task-oriented movements, structured movement games and complex rules. Drama can be included with movement therapy and works well when adolescents are free to choose a character they identify with and are enacting actual events they are familiar with. Leading adolescents is more effective when the therapist is active, organizes the activity well, emphasizes the rules and clarifies roles and tasks. Research has shown that a “policing” style of leadership does not work well with this population. Several dramatic activities are illustrated as examples of adding drama into the dance therapy session. One of these activities is having participants chose an adverb and a selected member will be chosen as the one to guess the adverb based on the movements exhibited by the participants. Another activity is the Chair Game where participants take turn guessing what famous person is sitting on the chair. The goal for the dance therapist is to have a wide variety of body orienting techniques and adding drama to these movements “allows for a ‘finer tuning’ by the dance therapist on the spectrum of movement, imagery, and verbal expression.” These techniques work in two “arenas” by internally decreasing emotional and feeling states and externally by proving a safe environment for the participant. Methods of labeling, guessing, freezing, and linear space are used to accomplish the decrease of emotions. Aggression is contained by using competition among teams and being put in the spotlight for an activity. Dramatic activities “provide a rich medium” for exploring and integrating identity, social roles, and developmental issues.