Practices. Protocols. Approaches. Techniques. These are the words movement pioneers reach for when they are trying to describe what they do. Coining a term for a new method gives you the right to teach it your way. Persona. Panache. Mojo. Mystique. We use these terms to grasp at the essence of a mentor’s soul. When enough people label a person or group as remarkable, a reputation is earned. Modalities is the catch-all word we use to describe the genre. Some are interpretive processes that invite improvised facilitation, while others have specific moves or techniques that can be codified, memorized, and taught.

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[Live-linked names are current members of the Dance First Association]

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5Rhythms New York native Gabrielle Roth set an international movement in motion when she created 5Rhythms at the Esalen Institute in California’s Big Sur in the 1970s. Using free-form dance as a crucible for personal growth, participants in the moving meditation practice are guided through a musical wave comprised of Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness.

AcroYoga A blend of yoga, acrobatics, and Thai massage conceived by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer Klein. A practice of trust and playfulness popular at ecstatic dances.

Action Theater Improvisational theater training and performance method founded by Ruth Zaporah. Embodied exercises lead to spontaneous and artful communication.

Alexander Technique Australian actor F.M. Alexander developed this technique for creating balance in the relationship between neck and head. A simple and practical method that changes everyday habits to improve freedom of movement.

AliveMotion Rhonda Clarke’s programs and concerts awaken and heal through dance and music. Based in Alberta, Canada, with programs that include children and teens.

Aston Kinetics Forms of movement, bodywork, and fitness developed by somatic pioneer Judith Aston. Includes education for daily activities and specialized trainings in Pilates, yoga, golf, music, and more.

Authentic Movement A self-directed form developed by dance therapy pioneer Mary Starks Whitehouse in the 1950s. Involves gaining access and giving creative expression to the inner life through movement, drawing, processing, and witnessing.

Azul A path of personal transformation and conscious movement practice created by Amara Pagano. Azul harnesses the body’s intelligence to facilitate inner healing and evolution and utilizes movement combined with a psycho-spiritual approach as a vehicle for exploration.

Bartenieff Fundamentals An extension of Laban Movement Analysis developed by Irmgard Bartenieff. Exercises that apply Laban’s movement theory to the functioning of the human body in motion.

Bellyfit A fusion-fitness experience created by Vancouver-based Alice Bracegirdle that embrace elements of Pilates, yoga, and meditation practices. Combines Western style cardio with dances from India, Asia, and Africa.

Biodanza In encountering yourself and others through movement, dance, physical contact, and sharing, Biodanza classes have strong spiritual and emotional components, designed to heighten the experience of being alive in the here and now. Created by Rolando Toro Araneda.

Body-Mind Centering An influential process of creative embodiment developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Hands-on re-patterning and movement education principles are complementary to virtually any movement modality.

Body Tales The work of Olivia Corson and Lysa Castro evokes meaningful personal stories through intuitive movement, spoken word, and supportive witnessing.

Breath Experience Middendorf breath work is a gentle somatic practice that develops the theme of letting the breath come and go on its own accord.

Breema A protocol of over 300 self and partner exercises that bear resemblance to both Thai massage and Contact Improvisation. Jon Schreiber’s system of nine principles of harmony applies to all aspects of life.

Chakradance Australians Natalie Southgate and Douglas Channing use music and high-energy dance as the energetic gateway to the seven major chakras of the body.

Cocréa Co-created by  Wren LaFeet and Antje Schaeffer in 2013, Cocréa is an improvisational form of partner dance designed to support participants in developing presence, opening to creativity and generating authentic relationship and to empower mindful leaders and followers in community.

Contact Improvisation This internationally practiced open source modality was originated by Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark-Smith. A journey of somatic movement and connection shared by two or more people at once.

Continuum Emilie Conrad founded Continuum in 1967, based on the idea that in the process of activating our fluid intelligence, it is possible to live more vibrant lives.

Core Connexion An approach to dance as movement meditation and healing art developed by mentor Eva Vigran. This innovative practice leads to creative expression from the core through connection to body, breath, and sensation.

Dance from the Heart A practice developed by The Critical Mass Dance Company in Southern California. Dance from the Heart is a 7-step movement process for manifestation designed to ground your body, connect your spirit, and activate the power of your open heart to embody a heart-felt dream with ease and joy.

Dance/Movement Therapy The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines dance/movement therapy as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual.” Although roots can be traced back to Jung’s active imagination work in 1916, Marion Chace is credited with developing the profession in the 1950s.

Dance of Liberation Blindfolds are used in the shamanic tradition to allow inner creativity to break free. Parashakti created this form to free emotional, mental, and spiritual blockages through ritual dance.

Dance of Oneness Created by Banafsheh Sayyad, master sacred dancer and transformational teacher, Dance of Oneness is a spiritual path and science of embodiment, fusing three dimensions: the art of dance, wisdom teachings, and healing disciplines.

DanceMeditation An integrated movement meditation system that is offered both as a personal path and a dynamic community process. Founder Dunya Dianne McPherson cultivates embodied awareness using the premise that the body is spiritual intelligence.

Dances of Universal Peace First developed by Sufi teacher Samuel Lewis as a path toward peace through the arts. Selections from a library of more than 3,000 traditional folk and circle dances from all cultures are explored at weekly gatherings worldwide.

Dancing Freedom A form of full-spectrum manifestation through movement created by West Coast facilitator Samantha Sweetwater. Soul-activating dance journeys, workshops, and retreats with music that is fresh and diverse.

Dancing Mindfulness Using the art form of dance as the primary medium of discovering mindful awareness, the format of this expressive art developed by Ohio-based clinical trauma specialist Dr. Jamie Marich is especially valuable to those in recovery or dealing with stress. Now meets qualifications as an approach to expressive arts therapy.

Danyasa A flowing movement practice created by Costa Rica retreat Bamboo YogaPlay founder Sofiah Thom. Unites the rejuvenating essence of Vinyasa with the uplifting energy of dance.

DolphinDance An aquatic and sub-aquatic exploration developed by Lollia Cangemi for partners or “pods.” Nose-clips offer the safety to dive into the ecstatic three-dimensionality of the undersea dolphin universe.

Ecstatic Dance A global phenomenon of free-form community dance events that offer modern electronic dance music and a non-verbal environment.

Feldenkrais The methods of Moshe Feldenkrais guide people of all abilities through precisely structured movement explorations. The active expression is called Awareness Through Movement.

Groove Method Modern high-energy music workout created by Canadians Misty Tripoli and Mélanie Guertin.

Hellerwork A system of somatic education that follows Ida Rolf’s lineage of Structural Integration. Joseph Heller based his interpretation on the inseparability of body, mind, and spirit.


Ideokinesis Lulu Sweigart and Barbara Clark evolved the work of their teacher Mabel Elsworth Todd into this protocol popular with dance professionals. Somatic approach involves sustained mental focus on imagined actions.

Integral Transformative Practice Conceived by human potential pioneer George Leonard and Esalen Institute founder Michael Murphy, this long-term program effects positive change through a series of body-mind-spirit exercises and other daily practices.

InterPlay Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter began their collaboration in the Body and Soul dance company in 1979. Through improvisation they to translate the body’s innate wisdom through practice, play, and performance.

Jazzercize Phenomenally successful fitness format started by Judi Sheppard Missett. In 1969, this just-for-fun take on jazz has evolved to bundle in moves from hip hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz kickboxing, and resistance training.

JourneyDance A typical class journeys from prayer to celebration and includes tuning the chakras, guided imagery, affirmations, interaction, creativity and high energy dance. Founded by Toni Bergins in 1997.


Kinetic Awareness A guided experiential study of the fundamentals of human movement created by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers. Relies on inflatables and is also known as The Ball Work.

Kivo Connection with the kinetic voice is the intention behind the spirited practice developed by musician-dancer Lis Addison. Ecstatic circles of heart-opening dance, movement, and rhythmic body chants.

Kundalini Dance Shamanic ritual-dance created by Australian Leyolah Antara Dekanic. Often led by facilitator-DJ duos, this deeply transformative and sometimes cathartic experience is popular in Canada and on the festival circuit.

Laban Movement Analysis A vocabulary and analytic framework for the description of human movement originally devised by Rudolf Laban. The work is applied in diverse elds such as health care, the performing arts, sports, and education.

Let Your Yoga Dance An exuberant form of yoga and breath-based movement practice developed by Kripalu senior trainer Megha Nancy Buttenheim. Powerful moves in an atmosphere of levity.

Life/Art Process As a cancer survivor in the late 80s, Anna Halprin’s life and art became one when she embraced her dance practice as a healing art. Using movement and art to release blockages and foster well-being, a session may involve drawing/painting, dancing, witnessing, journaling, and dialogue. Group processes may include performance and ceremony.

LivingTango A mindfulness-based approach to movement and connection with roots in Argentine Tango created by Los Angeles-based Ilona Glinarsky that embraces the metaphors of partner dance as a path to personal development.

Lomi Lomi A Hawaiian “dance of massage” originally translated to Westerners by native healer Auntie Margaret Machado. Original apprentice Tamara Conlan Mondragon carries on the tradition.


Medicine Dance The work of Fred Sugarman at UCLA explores inner-directed movement for healing. Open classes are offered, and a current academic study is focusing on the well-being of breast cancer survivors.

Movement Medicine A body of work developed by the UK-based duo Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan, this shamanic approach to transformation embodies the metaphor of the mandala as a guide. The School of Movement Medicine offers workshops worldwide, as well as teacher trainings and mentorships.

Nalini Method A dynamic workout with Eastern influences created by Rupa Mehta. One energetic aspect is Nalinimetrics, an active dance form.

Nia blends nine movement forms from dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts, in an approach aimed at changing bodies and lives through the sensations of pleasure and joy. Nia FreeDance, a sub-genre, forgoes choreography.

Open Floor A multi-layered movement practice that weaves the four dimensions of embodiment (Physical, Emotional, Mind, & Soul) together with the four relational hungers, (Solitude, Connection, Belonging, & Spirit).

Pilates The core fitness program of Joseph Pilates began at the turn of the century with NY City Ballet members as test subjects. Today over ten million people practice worldwide.

Psycho-Physical Therapy Movement innovator Bill Bowen’s approach to body-centered psychotherapy enhances awareness and well-being through somatic resourcing.

Pure Barre Created by dancer, choreographer, and fitness guru Carrie Rezabek. A complete full-body workout with elements of ballet, Pilates, and resistance training.

Qoya Movement system founded by Rochelle Schieck based on the idea that through movement, we remember our essence is Wise, Wild and Free.

Rolfing Movement Integration The system of Ida Rolf restores structure by changing the movement habits that perpetuate imbalance. Also known as Rolfing Structural Integration.

Rosen Method Created over the course of 50 years of practice by somatic innovator Marion Rosen. Bodywork and movement aimed at creating more space for effortless breathing and graceful living.

Sensory Awareness An active mindfulness practice popularized by Charlotte Selver, who taught daily until her death at 102 in 2003. Active practitioners worldwide.

Shin Somatics Land to Water Yoga is a gentle practice that uses somatic principles and yoga philosophy for optimal living and healing.

Silvestre Technique Brazilian native Rosangela Silvestre’s in uential dance technique. Builds on the elements of nature and the intuition, balance, and expression of the body.

SomaSoul A body-centered dialogue with somatic/sensory awareness developed by Dan Leven. Resolves stress and trauma by synthesizing the energies of right-brain creativity with left-brain language.

Somatic Experiencing A form of moving psychotherapy created by trauma therapist Peter A. Levine aimed at relieving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences).

Somato-respiratory Integration A protocol that combines breath, touch, and dialogue to reunite self with repressed, shamed, or forgotten areas held in the body.

Soul Motion The spiritually evocative “movement ministry” of Vinn Martí has a devoted following and is highly influential to other facilitators. A creative musical odyssey of human relations and divine dialogue.

Surfing The Creative A seven-phased rite-of-passage process created by Boulder-based Melissa Michaels aimed at liberating the creative life force through embodiment.

TaKeTiNa Reinhard and Cornelia Flatischler created this group rhythm meditation. Beginning with simple repetitive steps, then adding claps and basic sounds, the idea is to play with the edge of entrainment and chaos, integrating the hemispheres of the brain.

Tantsu This land-based practice combines tantra and shiatsu. Developed by Watsu founder Harold Dull.

Trager Approach The somatic methods of Dr. Milton Trager include Mentastics, the movement form of Trager Psychophysical Bodywork.

TRANSCENDANCE™ takes the mindfulness of yoga off the mat and infuses it with free-form joyful conscious dance. Appropriate for all ages, and movement abilities, classes help you to shake off stress, release tension, rejuvenate your body, center your mind and connect with your spirit. It’s a fusion of; guided breathing, relaxation and stretching, fun, free-form conscious dance, energy healing, embodiment coaching and life empowerment, and more.

Uzazu A practice of embodied empowerment, Dylan Newcomb’s language of energy is a somatic polarity practice aligned with the Spiral Dynamics work developed by Clare Graves.

Vibrance An inspirational metaphysical workout for body and soul created by Ellen Watson and Daphne Tse. Formerly known as SpiritDance Soulsong, Vibrance exalts the human voice and the body’s motion through the lens of the eight chakras.

Vivid Existence A life practice and inquiry into embodiment through dance devised by Vancouver-based therapist Leela Francis.

WaterDance Partner movement in a pool heated to body temperature. Nose plugs allow for underwater hydro-dynamic pressure release on joints and muscles.

Watsu The original form of partnered water shiatsu created by Harbin Hot Springs teacher Harold Dull. Ultimate relaxation and release from floating and stretching in warm water.

WildCore Movement A dance-based movement practice that explores the wilderness of body and soul. Developed by Idaho-based outdoor enthusiast Brietta Leader, WildCore is a path of untamed self-discovery, healing, and expressive movement that uses the power of metaphor as a bridge between the physical and energetic bodies.

Yamuna Body Rolling Uses specially designed balls to elongate muscles and roll tissue. Yamuna Zake’s practice allows self-directed bodywork that follows the body’s own logic.

Yoga Trance Dance High-energy yoga/dance fusion made popular by superstar Shiva Rea.

ZeroOne An international movement meditation practice for individual and collective evolution developed by UK-based Gabrielle Roth protégé Adam Barley. Total commitment to the moment: listening is subtle, vision is deep, action is creative, and speech is true.

Zumba Created by Beto Perez in the 90s, Zumba’s energetic vibe, pumping music party atmosphere are all about having fun falling in love with your body.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]