Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

Department

Dance/Movement Therapy Graduate Program

Abstract

This thesis aims to introduce some of the ritual aspects in dance and drum circles in New York City that create a spiritual atmosphere and a sense of community to provide a healing experience to its members. Drum and dance circles in NYC do not adhere to a fixed structure based on religious doctrine, although its ritual aspects derive from African religions and belief systems, which points to the members’ reverence of, and attempt to reconnect with, African culture. The circles’ improvisational nature and cultural intermixing results in its own unique community space that exemplifies the history of cultural and religious mixtures among African ethnic groups and regional groups (Daniel, 2005). In this community, members develop roles that are flexible and prone to change whether it is drummer, dancer, or observer. As a spiritual community, sanctifying rituals are important to members in order to foster a spiritual connection with the ancestors or Divine Power. Dance/movement therapists who appreciate these aspects of dance and drums, and understand its cultural implications, can apply them in clinical settings to lend cultural support to clients who identify with their African heritage and ritual practices.

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