Arts Based Enquiry: Integrating Narrative within Movement

This paper addresses the use of Physical Storytelling (Harvey and Kelly, 1991, 1992, 1993, and Kelly, 2006) as a practice to investigate scenes from life, clinical practice, and research with a goal of introducing a way to make use of dance as an Arts Based Inquiry (McNiff, 1998). Physical Storytelling is a creative improvisational practice with roots in contact improvisation, authentic movement, dance improvisation, and Playback Theatre. The form incorporates improvised movement episodes in response to verbal narratives presented by clients, families, within supervision groups, and in response to research questions. In Physical Storytelling, the therapist functions as a conductor who helps to facilitate verbal reports of emotionally relevant material in a story for mat. The therapist sets up improvised movement episodes with the intention of creating dances that can provide a more meaningful perspective for the storyteller and the participants/audience through the use of performed improvisational dance interactions. This form is useful in providing expression to situations that are complex, conflicted, and hard to present in more traditional ways. The resulting performances offer an opportunity for the dance therapist to use improvised movement as a method that is closely related to their practice to investigate important questions related to their work. In this way, the dance therapist can use Physical Storytelling to create dance as a reflective process about dance therapy either as a separate process or in addition to other more verbal or quantitate approaches.

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