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Popping pills could take a backseat as we are introduced to art therapy in Chennai

Even as expensive afternoons with a shrink are slowly turn ing into an urban fad,  any talk of mental illnesses  is still a taboo in our society. So what are the alternatives for those who need help? Nalini Prakash—a dancer, choreographer and movement therapist—believes her form of dance/movement therapy can help make a difference. “In a country that has such respect for its arts, there is great potential to advance in the field of mental health,” says US-based Prakash, who is in the country to spread awareness on this special form of therapy.

Healing steps
Mind-lead-1“Dance is a form of release. When tension builds in you, the best way is to just dance it off. I began dancing at the age of three and it has seen me through many ups and downs,” says the accomplished danseuse. “Later, I volunteered with Udhavi, a centre for children with special needs, in Coonoor. I could see that dancing helped them but I had no knowledge on how to take it forward,” she adds. Prakash stumbled on to her calling after attending a workshop by movement therapist Tripura Kashyap in 2006. She later enrolled at Drexel University, Philadelphia, for their dance/movement therapy programme (2008-2010) and since then has been working as a therapist with Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in
Washington DC.

“We mostly do group therapy. We ask our patients to do whatever they want—as free movement brings out hidden emotions. It also helps relieve emotional stress. We pick up on the physical cues and then engage them in dialogue,” concludes Prakash. If you missed her talks in February, you can still catch her dance performance, Vishala: Expanse, today.

At Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, at 7 pm. Free entry. Details: payal.aalaap@gmail.com

—Surya Praphulla Kumar

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