Dance/Movement Therapists to Explore Cuban Dance

Dance/movement therapy (DMT) faculty and students from Antioch University New England (AUNE), and professionals, will visit Cuba for a week, March 9-17. They’ll learn about Afro-Cuban dance, its role in the culture and in healing, and Psicoballet, the Cuban dance therapy. They will also present dance/movement therapy as practiced in the United States.

The group will travel first to Santiago de Cuba, the center of Afro-Cuban culture on the island. There they’ll study a Cuban folk dance group, learning how dance is used in healing and to promote community.

Then it’s on to Havana, Cuba’s capital, where the AUNE group will work with other dance therapists. “Students and professionals will learn and present on how to build relationships through movement and the applications to working with different populations,” said Dr. Christina Devereaux, director of clinical training of the dance/movement therapy and counseling program in AUNE’s Department of Applied Psychology.

Dr. Carlotta Willis, a former DMT and director of AUNE’s clinical mental health counseling program, visited Cuba last year on a public health trip with her husband, an acupuncturist. In the evenings they enjoyed Cuban arts, music and dance. “I had been introduced to Cuba’s Psicoballet by a DMT student from Puerto Rico a number of years ago, so I connected with some Cubans involved, spent a day with them and observed what they were doing,” Willis said. Out of that interest grew the idea for this year’s trip.

Psicoballet, which originated in Cuba, differs from American dance/movement therapy. It’s a form of dance that relies strongly on ballet to integrate the psychological and the physical aspects of therapy, and is often used with children with special needs.

Willis and Devereaux will be joined by fifteen DMT students and professionals, including two yoga therapists. The six DMT students and Devereaux plan to collaborate on research projects while in Cuba.

Because travel to Cuba is strictly controlled, the trip is being organized by Common Ground Educational Services and Travel in Easthampton, Massachusetts, which is licensed to book travel to Cuba.