From the dance profession to dance therapy. Anna Süheyla Harms

My name is Anna Süheyla Harms and I am a 34 year old professional dancer, originally from Australia. As for many people, the pandemic was a catalyst for considering new perspectives in my life and career. I asked myself questions like ‘Who am I if I am not a dancer?’. For years I had focused on my body as a tool for expression and communication with an audience, my relationship to it was intricately entwined with my job. However, whilst this purpose for my body was gone, I started to develop a different relationship with it. I became acutely aware of the potential that movement has for positively affecting our wellbeing. 

This lead me to consider the field of dance therapy.
With the funding from Dis-Tanzen, I launched myself on a journey of research to learn about dance therapy. My goal was to gather theoretical knowledge and practical experience in order to make a well informed decision about whether that path could become an expansion of my profession as a dancer. 

I undertook this task in several ways. I read books, I attended orientation seminars at different dance therapy ‘Ausbildung’ institutes. Thanks to the Berufsverband der TanztherapeutInnen Deutschland, I was able to send out a survey to its members which was just invaluable for gathering personal experiences from dance therapists all over Germany. Another very eye-opening but massively important step was to participate in my own dance therapy sessions, as the ‘client’. And lastly I conducted extensive interviews with three different dance therapists who have each played or still do play their integral part in the field of dance therapy; Mona Weniger, Dirk Kazmierczak and Andrew Morrish. 

This process as a whole lead me to reflect on several reoccurring themes and questions, some of which include:

– Am I, as a dancer really ‘in tune’ with my body and what does that mean for becoming a dance therapist? 

–  The importance of Laban Movement Analysis

–  ‘Therapy’ and ‘who am I?’

–  Is it an advantage/what are the challenges in having been a dancer?

–  What qualities are necessary for being a dance therapist?

–  Transitioning/ageing as a dancer

In order to share and summarise my experiences I have written an article (you will find the link at the end of this blogpost). The text is largely based on the enlightening conversations I had with Mona, Dirk and Andrew, complemented with quotes from the survey, all interwoven with my reflections about the themes which guided me through the research.
Obviously I am not a professional writer, but I have done my best to organise all of this information into a coherent text which will hopefully be informative for anyone curious about dance therapy!
Thank you for your time, please share and enjoy!

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