ITA Presents Dance Therapy Tenets to Joffrey Dance Artists
On June 22nd, ITA Dance/Movement Therapist Jessica Sittig had the opportunity to speak at The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. The Joffrey acts as one of America’s premier dance companies and has since its founding in 1956. The Joffrey’s performances range from classical ballet such as The Nutcracker to more modern dances. The Joffrey also offers dance classes and community outreach programs–the main subjects of Jessica’s presentation on dance therapy. These outreach programs work with teaching artists and the Chicago Public Schools to provide ballet lessons for students of all ages.
Jessica’s presentation consisted of lecture, discussion, and experiential components. She focused on the application of patterns of total body connectivity for dance educators. This allowed Jessica to teach The Joffrey’s outreach artists how best to help and observe their students and make their classes and choreography as effective as possible. They specifically focused on how to apply total body connectivity to children and teenagers with special needs or those who may have experienced trauma.
In her presentation, Jessica focused on the fundamentals of total body connectivity. She began by discussing the connection between mind and body, and how cognition and emotion are often expressed through movement. For example, she discussed how the term “Jump for joy” expresses happiness through the physical action of jumping. Jessica then transitioned into a discussion of breath. She explained its importance and applications, as well as possible reasons for breath disturbance. She then conducted an experiential breathing exercise. Participants focused on their own breathing for two minutes, spent two minutes practicing partner awareness, and then spent two minutes reviewing the experience. Jessica spent the rest of the presentation discussing different areas of the body and how different dance therapy exercises can be applied in dance classes. Participants seemed to enjoyed the presentation and we hope it will be beneficial to The Joffrey in its future classes!