Melanie Johnson, PhD, BC-DMT, NCC, Certified KMP Analyst, RYT-200 is a clinical dance/movement therapist and yoga instructor based in Boston, MA. Her specializations are in movement analysis and nonverbal assessment using the Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP). A KMP analyst and trainer, she has taught workshops and conducted KMP trainings in Masters and post-graduate education settings in the US, UK, and Germany. Johnson studied and mentored with Susan Loman, with whom she has served as teaching assistant, authored publications, and presented at national and regional conferences on topics such as lifespan development and psychological health through an integrated, developmental perspective. Her research focus is in testing the theoretical assumptions of the KMP, and her PhD thesis focuses on KMP Tension Flow Rhythms in adults and specific body movements’ influence on psychological states. Johnson currently serves as Vice President of the New England Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association.
Kara Serasis, MA, R-DMT, CMA is a graduate of Antioch University New England’s Dance/movement therapy and Counseling program. Kara studied Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies before attending her master’s program at Antioc University. While in graduate school, she worked as a Kestenberg Movement Profile research assistant under the guidance of Susan Loman to help create learning tools for students and professionals wanting to deepen their knowledge of the KMP. Kara currently works as an adult therapist and intake specialist at Monadnock Family Services.
Danielle is adjunct faculty in the Dance/Movement Therapy department at Antioch New England University, as well as an alumna of the program. Having served the geriatric population for almost two decades, her focus is on using group dance/movement therapy to bring vitality and connection to those in nursing homes. Danielle explores the potential for rhythmic, nonverbal communication to create a bridge to those with dementia. She delights in inspiring the joy of movement throughout the lifespan and teaches creative dance to all ages and abilities in preschools, public schools, special education settings and the studio environment. She writes and directs theatre for young children. She is currently the Director of Young Arts at MoCo Arts, a nonprofit arts education center in Keene, NH and brings dance into local public elementary and middle schools as a teaching artist with the New Hampshire Dance Institute.
I am passionate about exploring and integrating dance and other creative arts’ dynamic processes to engage with clients and enhance students’ embodied learning. My clinical experience includes working with acute inpatient psychiatric adults, suicidal teenagers, teenage sex offenders, victims of domestic/partner violence, and immigrant children of refugees. My primary research interest, reflected in my presentations and publications, is in dance epistemology and its explication with research methodology, ritual and ceremony, and the diversity and inclusion curricula.
Dance Epistemology: My interest in dance as a form of knowing stems from my impulse to communicate through dance. To better understand the potential for deeper knowledge discovery through the body and dancing, for my doctoral work at Lesley University, I developed a systematized embodied-artistic approach for qualitative data analysis (for which I was awarded the research fellowship). I extend the idea that dance and other forms of nonverbal arts have the capacity to communicate that which cannot be expressed in words to many areas of my life.
DMT as Social Action: For example, as an approach for interpersonal, collaborative development, DMT can be applied to community building and social action. A technique of DMT that is used in clinical assessment is listening through movement. By observing how people move, listening to the tone and quality of their voices (rather than the content), and sensing what is in the milieu or environment, dance/movement therapists attempt to make meaning in relationship with people who want to create change. By mirroring people’s movements, we show who we are and begin to make empathic connections.
I have been applying this method of improvising a dance at a Hiroshima Memorial (with non-profits Arts for Peace and Uptown Progressive Action). In the context of the memorial, the dance serves to communicate that which cannot be expressed in words. Rather than a form of entertainment, the memorial offers a communal space where people’s experiences with war, violence, and other forms of injustices can be seen, heard, and/or felt, and reflected upon. The dance is, by its nature, improvised as a response to and reflection of those voices, including mine. It changes depending on who is present and what is being offered in the moment. Instead of numbers and facts, the dance taps into the lived human experience and can have an impact on a visceral level to empower; connect to one’s heritage, culture, and community; feel witnessed; and to witness.
Within AUNE, I work collaboratively in partnership with the provost’s office, faculty, staff, and students to embed and institutionalize AUNE’s commitment to living its social justice mission.
Social Justice in DMT: The idea of dance as a form of knowing is common in the field of DMT. However, hierarchies of knowledge exist. Many groups of people have been historically excluded from participating and being represented in higher education – DMT included. Traditional ritual and ceremony practices, for example, have been marginalized and studied from a particular viewpoint that looked down on the arts, especially dance that utilizes the body.
To bring change, I am currently working on:
- Creating a narrative of my embodied approach to teaching and learning about oppressor, oppressed, and bystander roles through a DMT lens;
- Exploring traditional and indigenous arts-based healing practices that have existed before DMT (with DMT affiliate faculty and drama therapist Kim Burden);
- Exploring the connection between DMT and spirituality (with Dr. Angela Grayson, Drexel University)
Examining how to provide feedback to international students and students who have been traditionally outside of the dominant student body of DMT pedagogy and training.
In addition to her Antioch teaching responsibilities Alice is Program Coordinator and Creative Arts Therapist at The Brattleboro Retreat. She works on the Dual Diagnosis Unit with psychiatric and addiction patients. She leads a variety of groups including mindfulness, coping skills, women’s group, dance therapy, expressive therapies, self esteem, and spirituality.
Alice’s special interests include mindfulness, psychotherapy, social justice and diversity. She is a student at the Assisi Institute studying Archetypal pattern analysis.