Thursday, December 4, 2014

Embodying Empathy: Dance/Movement Therapy after Unthinkable Trauma


In post-conflict Sierra Leone, David Alan Harris launched the world's first dance/movement therapy group for former child combatants. Dancing essentially reprogrammed the ex-boy-soldiers' traumatized nervous systems and enabled the youths to mend the mind-body split that had alienated them from themselves as from their communities. Calling themselves Poimboi Veeyah Koindu (Orphan Boys of Koindu,
in their tribal language) this group of former boy soldiers claimed an international human rights award, the 2009 Freedom to Create Youth Prize, which honored their exceptional courage in using the transformative power of art to reconcile with the community they'd violated. Harris' talk reminds us that, without the dancing, it never would have happened.