The Hancock Center for Dance/ Movement Therapy is a rather unassuming house located in downtown Madison – but the work that has been done there for three decades is phenomenal, and today (October 3, 2013) the dance therapists, the Hancock Center Board Members and other community members will be celebrating its 30th anniversary from 4:00 – 6:00 PM.
In 1983 the Hancock Center was founded by Deborah Thomas, a former instructor of the discontinued undergraduate dance/ movement therapy program once housed within the University of Wisconsin – Madison Dance Program. At its closure Thomas opened the Hancock Center as non-profit, decidedly running a “five year experiment to see if the community would indicate a need for [dance/ movement therapy].” Clearly there was, and still is, a need for the Hancock Center’s work.
Dance/ movement therapy, sometimes referred to as somatic therapy, is one of multiple creative arts therapies. Therapists attend graduate programs in order to gain the skill set needed to connect with clients and to help them find useful ways to incorporate the body and movement into the healing process. Dance/ movement therapy recognizes the importance of the physical self (body) as a site of trauma and notices how psychological tendencies are manifested within the body. Somatic therapy sessions are not all movement, though, processing of various movement activities is often done with speech so the dance and conversation complement each other.
The therapists on staff “develop creative outreach in directions that [are] of interest to them and that [respond] to community need.” Today the Hancock Center provides multiple services and programs for different populations, who seek different types of support. Hancock Center therapists also work in the elementary schools, incorporating Rena Kornblum’s “Disarming the Playground” curriculum, which teaches children how to prevent violence and how to physically control their bodies in order to stay focused in class. The work these therapists do hugely benefits society.
Thanks to local donors you can learn more at the anniversary celebration at 16 N. Hancock Street, where there will be refreshments, dancing and presentations from Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Executive Director Rena Kornblum and Founder Debby Thomas. Highly renowned dance/ movement therapist Sharon Chaiklin will be in attendance.