Monday, November 9, 2009

Choreographed Dance Movement to promote health and balance.

I just came back from Kripalu in the Berkshires, MA, where I completed the JourneyDance(TM) teacher training. It was a demanding experience with many gratifying moments. Mostly, seeing a group of 38 woman and 4 men coming together as one and dance like we danced together for years after just 40 hours of intensive training in 5 days.

There is plenty of literature available concerning dance and its therapeutic properties mostly concerning anxiety, depression, dementia, group dynamics, personal development, authentic communication, trans-cultural (and let me add cross-gender) relationships, and transformational leadership (i.e. Dance Movement Therapy by Helen Payne, Dance As a Healing Art : Returning to Health Through Movement & Imagery by Anna Halprin and Dance and other Expressive Art Therapies, and Therapy in Motion by Maureen Costonis). Perhaps still little is known about this “up and coming” modality called JourneyDance (TM).

Toni Bergens, M. Ed developed JourneyDance(TM) as an opportunity for personal growth and healing. Her authenticity, experience and energy draws many students and teachers into a choreographed journey of dance and music. Starting with embodiment, the student experiences movements on the floor, grounding herself into the body (and out of the mind). I valued the experience of crawling like a baby again. It made me feel in the moment without concern of future or past activities. Once embodied, the student goes through the awakening and immersion stages that (among other benefits) lubricate the spine, knees and other joints. The student is then lead into an expansion stage. Toni is a gifted leader that reads the energy of the group. She brings the students together on movement when needed, but leaves a lot of time for self-exploration. Toni refers to this powerful leadership tool as the “accordion technique.”

All stages are guided by complementing movements, music and sounds. In the expansion stage, students are encouraged to let go of the old and let in the new. This stage releases stuck energy and leaves a student feeling big and clear. The next stage, “Shamanic Empowerment” brings the student back to African rhythms and rituals. This stage stimulates release and students can go into a mild trance like state that brings them back to primordial memories. This particular stage is associated with a primordial masculine energy.

After the student has reached an expanded stage and a higher awareness, the JourneyDance teacher holds the space and safely guides the group back to a centered stage. This is done through heart and prayer dance and returning to the earth for deep relaxation. You can learn lots more about JourneyDance by visiting You will find a listing of classes for your area. I had a great time and want to thank Toni, the staff and my fellow students for this incredible experience.

JourneyDance has had an impact in my own life to help me promote health and balance. These experiences have significantly improved the quality in my own life and made me launch a free online directory for therapists: Health Panda. The Directory makes it easy for clients to research therapist referrals and find a good match. Visit the directory by clicking here. The website is called I am always curious about your feedback. You can reach me by dropping me an email at

Raymond Bokenkamp


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