Ian Cuming

Puppetry enhances healing potential in dance movement therapy


Edition: Dance Therapy Collections 4

Keywords: dance movement therapy, puppetry, attentional distance, intersubjectivity, creative arts therapy

Page #: 27
This paper reports on the experiences of participants and facilitators in a puppetry workshop for dance and movement therapists, exploring puppetry as a movement-based art form. It draws on these experiences to examine how puppetry might enhance the healing potential of dance movement therapy. Located somewhere between therapeutic art and creative therapy this work began in a series of exploratory sessions at Dance Family, a creative dance/movement program for parents and their children with disabilities. Our experience suggested that the attentional distance afforded by working with puppets generated and enhanced relationships.

Drawing on Stern’s studies of infant development we establish movement as the unifying foundation of dance and puppetry, identifying degrees of attentional distance as the differentiating principle. Exploring Trevarthen’s intersubjectivity model we inquire into the nature of the relationship between puppet mover and puppet, differentiating between body and puppet focus, exploring relationship through puppets and examining the role of witnessing. Weaving participant experiences and theory together we conclude by referring to Reason and Heron’s intentional healing and Heron and Reason’s participatory inquiry paradigm to propose the healing potential of puppetry in dance movement therapy as deriving from a powerfully transformative collaborative space of personal worlds opening.

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