Language was no barrier to the six dance/movement therapy (DMT) students and two faculty members from AUNE who visited Cuba for 10 days in March. They shared a more universal language—dance.
Cuba has a culture that expresses itself in dance, said Christina Devereaux, director of clinical training of the dance/movement therapy and counseling program in AUNE’s Department of Applied Psychology who, along with Carlotta Willis, former DMT and director of AUNE’s clinical mental health counseling program, led the trip.
“We didn’t speak the same language,” Christina said. “The movement process is really what joined us, and we met on that level and came together in beautiful ways.”
The group, along with four of Christina’s former students and several others, went first to Santiago de Cuba to learn about Afro-Cuban culture and dance. They danced in the streets and in clubs, and enjoyed private performances from several companies including Cutumba, a dance company of Afro-Cuban dancers. “From the first day, it was about dance,” Christina said. “We noticed right away that it was more about movement relationship and attuned connection between partners. It was about the experience of moving together.”
Scheduled to give a presentation to practitioners of Cuba’s famed Psicoballet, a therapeutic approach that relies on ballet to integrate the psychological and the physical aspects of therapy, the AUNE group arrived in Havana late because of a delayed flight. The AUNE students gave their experiential presentation about basic DMT concepts after just two hours of sleep. “They rose to the challenge,” Christina said. In the following days, AUNE exchanged material and information with the Psicoballet group as well as performances.
Back in the United States, the AUNE group continues to communicate with Psicoballet. They will give a presentation on their trip at the American Dance Therapy Association annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October.
Watch videos of Cuban dance performances and some impromptu DMT rumba here.