After The Storm

November 8, 2012

Dear NYS-ADTA Community,

It is with a heavy heart filled with emotion that I write this letter on behalf of the NYS-ADTA Chapter Board.  Over the course of the last 10 days Hurricane Sandy moved through our physical community and wreaked havoc on our personal communities.

As such, the Board met for our monthly October meeting earlier this week, at the start of November.  In the meeting we discussed and processed some of the implications this epic storm has had upon our NY State community.  We have heard of members displaced from their homes, some without (hot) water or water at all, power, heat and complete loss of homes.

Additionally, other members of our community were evacuated from workplaces such as hospitals, nursing homes and shelters to name a few.  One of the many implications of such closures has been patients and clients loss of support from these portals of healing and treatment.  While in addition, clinicians in these facilities are displaced and have abruptly lost the support of colleagues, supervisors and fellow team members.

At our meeting this week the Board agreed that it made sense to reach out to our community through this letter and by offering a time for us as a community group to come together.  With that, we hope that you will join us for our first Dance Movement Therapy Gathering where we hope to create a discussion offer support, process, move, connect and heal as a community from this collective ‘Trauma’.  Moreover, if members who attend the meeting on Tuesday express additional need for community gatherings like this the Board will most certainly provide it to the community.

Dance Movement Therapy Gathering Details

Tuesday November 13, 2012

At CRS (The Center for Remembering and Sharing)

123 Fourth Avenue 2nd Floor (Buzzer #2)

Please RSVP to Stephanie Gail Ross, NYS-ADTA Corresponding Secretary at:

*If you cannot attend this gathering but are interested in attending another please let us know, that way we can adequately and accurately gauge the interest and needs of the community.

Until then take good care!

Cara A. Gallo, M.S. BC-DMT/LCAT

President, NYS-ADTA

The New Board

Dear New York creative arts therapy community,

Please accept this letter as an introduction to the new NYS-ADTA Board of Directors:  Cara A. Gallo, President, Deniz Oktay, Vice-president, George Jagatic, Treasurer, Marie McKenna Aguirre, Programming, Jackie Gonzalez, Public Relations, Laura Raffa, Fundraising, Gianna Lafronza, IT, Jennifer Daniels, Recording Secretary, Stephanie Gail Ross, Corresponding Secretary, Angela Dewall, Student Liaison.  Please note: the Newsletter Chair position remains vacant, interested persons may contact me directly.

Each new board member comes to their position with creative and innovative ideas about how to build and promote our profession in New York State.  Some ideas discussed at our first meeting in January were; development of a dance therapy app (for smart phones), free chapter networking events and interdisciplinary collaboration through workshops, seminars, lecture and of course dance events!

As the new board acclimates itself to our new roles, responsibilities and tasks we want to reach out to you, our membership in an effort to begin a conversation. We hope this dialogue develops and grows over the course of the next three years.  One concern we have at the start of our term is the recent move by the New York City and State agencies (OMH, OASSIS, OPWD to mention a few) petitioning the NYS-Office of Professions for a permanent exemption from the New York State Mental Health Practitioner Licensing Legislation.  Meaning these agencies would no longer be required to hire experienced licensed professionals to treat clients utilizing their services.

With that, we believe it is of the highest import that we engage and involve each member through Chapter events, activities and promotional efforts whether, they be in the city, downstate, upstate, way upstate, long island, everywhere and everyone in NY.  Involvement can be as simple as making a phone call to promote an upcoming workshop, submitting a committee or project proposal, or calling-in during a board meeting to voice your opinion about the needs of members in your area.

Our main goal for the next three years is to support, develop and cultivate the interests, engagement and creativity of our membership.  Our mission is to be of service to you, our members, and future members.  This will be done through creation of opportunities for dance therapy awareness, to sustain and continue raising chapter funds so as to support the chapter in these efforts, to reaffirm the importance of the healing power of the arts.  While finally, and possibly of the most import is to empower you, our members, in this time of economic struggle and crisis.

With that, the board would like to invite you to our first Chapter – Kickoff  Event “An evening of Hello’s, getting to know one another, brain-storming, dancing and imbibing”.  The event will commence on March 6, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Pratt Manhattan Campus, 144 West 14th Street, NYC.  *For out of city members we can arrange virtual attendance*.  If you wish to attend please respond to the attached e-vite.  I speak for the entire Board in saying we are very much looking forward to serving and collaborating with you over the next 3 years.


Warm Regards,

Cara A. Gallo, M.S. BC-DMT/LCAT

President, NYS-ADTA




Marina Abramavic & Witnessing

Last spring I had the opportunity to see The Artist is Present, a new work at the MOMA by performance artist, Marina Abramavic. The piece involved a taped off square in the atrium, surrounded by lights and a camera crew. Within the square, Marina sat in a simple, wooden chair. Across from her was an identical wooden chair, where anyone could choose to sit with her. From March 14th through May 31st, Marina sat for all the hours that the MOMA was open, with whomever sat across from her. Over the course of 736 hours and 30 minutes, she looked into 1,565 pairs of eyes.

Many of the reviews of the exhibit had emphasized the lack of movement, in sitting still. The audio tour and wall hangings in the exhibit also emphasized this idea of stillness. Even Marina asked the participant to find a comfortable position and sit still. But I saw so much movement everywhere. There was movement all around the space: people waiting, some restless, some captivated, some jostling in line, and others sitting on the floor.

Immediately upon walking into the atrium, I was struck with emotion. The whole square was surrounded by people waiting to have a chance to sit. I was blown away by how many people desire to be seen, yet it was easy to see what was so compelling about sitting with her. This was a chance to have someone really see you. She was sitting with a young man when I entered and my eyes were immediately drawn to the pair of them in the square. The two people sitting in the chairs were not still. I observed movement in their breath and small movements throughout the whole time they sat together.

The young man began with an overly confident look on his face, as if daring the artist to connect with him. In time, it seemed that Marina did connect with him. His breath changed. I saw his belly heave with a huge breath as he began to nod slowly and gently, while looking into the artist’s eyes. His posture softened, and his breathing normalized. He seemed to collect himself. He got up as what appeared to be a changed man.

In Marina’s discussion of her intention with the exhibit, she used vocabulary that we are familiar with in dance/movement therapy. She challenged herself to be present in the here and now with another person. This is something that is so rarely pursued and achieved in our society. The impact of her presence was powerful. People waited hours and hours to sit with her, receive her gaze, and be present with her.

I looked through the portrait photography that captured each visitor that sat with her. It was clear that many people were moved by the experience with her. Many people in the portraits are tearful and many came back for more. There was no time limit to how long or how often a visitor could choose to sit with her. One person sat all day and another sat 14 times.

Seeing this exhibit reminded me of what we do in dance/movement therapy and how much people need it. Like Marina, we intend to be present with another person, in the here and now, attending to them, attuning to them. Sometimes this can include large movement and space, and sometimes it can be as small as two people sitting across from each other. The attunement between Marina and the visitor could be seen in the breath, the gaze, and the shifts. She chose to do small movements such as placing her hand on her heart, leaning forward, shifting back, and these movements made an impact on the person across from her. We work with these tools, these skills, every day, and we can also make an impact by being artists, by being present. Laurel Crawford


by Karin Nadler

Just the other day, I was shopping for last minute Halloween accessories at Party City. I made a left out of the store and started walking west on 14th Street. My friends were laughing at me because they could not believe how excited I was simply because we were walking past Pratt. Of course, it’s not the physical building that excites me. It’s the endless memories, the lessons learned, the ineffable friends and supportive teachers.

When I think about my two years at Pratt, I think about the Safety that I felt, the Support that surrounded me, and the feeling of being Seen. I had no choice but to completely strip and unravel the many layers that I wasn’t even aware of wearing. Goodbye Cynicism. Goodbye Bitch (she still makes an appearance every now and then!). Goodbye Pity. Goodbye Unidentified Sadness. Once the layers were removed, I was then able to See myself with 20/20 vision for the first time. I didn’t always love what I saw, and I still don’t, but I was met with such a strong Support system from my professors and friends alike, who applauded me for my journey and never once made me feel silly or judged.

I wasn’t dealt an easy deck outside of Pratt. Foot surgery, a traumatic breakup, my grandma and good friend both diagnosed with cancer within 24 hours of each other. Pratt was my Safety net. I was allowed to fall apart there and I was encouraged to find my strengths there. With every tear shed (and trust me there were plenty), I began to rebuild, renew and revive myself.

With this most fascinating form of therapy, I fell in love. I fell in love with the medium, I fell in love with the work, I fell in love with myself. Going to school was never laborious. Homework never felt like a chore. I immersed myself in the teachings of my insightful, caring and warm‐hearted professors. There are others who I feel must be mentioned, because without them, my graduate experience would not have been complete. There was the intimidating guidance of Claire Schmais, my thesis advisor, who encouraged me to write about the importance of Self‐Awareness and relentlessly challenged me to find and understand the “why” behind my actions and writings. Then there were my larger‐than‐life supervisors, Joetta Cherry and Ted Ehrhardt who opened my eyes to the beauty in this work. They applauded me for my mistakes and sat with me week after week, while I questioned and cried, laughed and learned. And my therapist, who I guess will remain nameless, who helped me put all of these puzzle pieces together and who still continues to champion my every essence.

On May 15, 2010, I saw the words “Congratulations Pratt Institute” on the marquee of Radio City. I cried, of course. Why did it have to come to an end? Would I ever feel that Safe again? Can I somehow prevent this all from being a distant memory? I wanted to hold onto Pratt the way my mom made me hold her hand when we crossed the street. I wanted to hold onto Pratt the way I held onto bus notes from friends at end of a summer at sleepaway camp. We were all elated on graduation day. Yes, we were given diplomas, but we were also given permission to spread our wings and bring our passions out into the world. We, the Pratt CATs, may have been the smallest department in number, but we were, without a doubt, the loudest and proudest group of people in the theatre that day.

And so my summer began. With a nationwide recession and a field that makes people say, “WHAT?! You’re a physical therapist for dancers?” I never once doubted myself or feared that I wouldn’t get a job. There was no way that I wouldn’t be able to sell myself or the work, once given the chance to go on an interview. I knew that my passion would ooze right through me. And with every fiber in my body, I believed in myself more than I ever had before. I once heard Simon Sinek, a marketing consultant, say, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

I had two job offers, another was brewing, and ended up accepting a position at Brooklyn Community Services, working in outpatient adult psychiatry, a population that exhausts me and refuels me, and one that I grew to love while in school. I had applied for the position of an Art Therapist (per Joan Wittig’s brilliant advice), and opened my boss’s eyes to this modality instead. There was already an art therapist on site and so I convinced them that they didn’t need another. It was a dream come true because I am the first dance therapist there, but have an on site LCAT supervising me! And because she, a fellow Pratt graduate, had planted her feet in the same office only two years before I did, my boss and colleagues knew that I was capable of doing more than Dance/Movement Therapy. I run verbal therapy groups and see sixteen patients individually. Of course I had to, and still have to, prove myself, but I was given a solid foundation to work from.

My roots from Pratt are so firmly planted in the ground; I never doubted that I wouldn’t be able to take on the extra work. The paperwork, the verbal groups, the individual sessions are all fine and dandy (they’re actually intense and draining, but “fine and dandy” sounds much nicer!). The Dance/Movement Therapy sessions are where I belong, however. It’s where I am me. It’s where I am my best self. It’s where I beam with amazement and excitement. It’s where I’m centered and curious and sponge‐like. It’s where I try to understand their innate selves with non‐judgmental eyes and an open heart. And I’ll forever be eternally grateful for my patients who have accepted Dance/Movement Therapy, who really bring their true selves into this intimate work and who ride the emotional rollercoaster with me on a daily basis. It’s such a raw therapy, where hiding is rarely an option. One patient tells me that Dance/Movement Therapy is the

only thing that makes him feel like he doesn’t have a mental illness. Another patient compares my sessions to Sunday church. Sure, there are those that think we’re there to exercise (okay, maybe I’m a little judgmental here) and there are those who don’t get much from the sessions. But, my wish is that I can provide for my patients what was provided for me at school: the Safety, the Support and the feeling of being Seen. My wish for my patients is that they can one day see themselves through my eyes because I see them possessing so much strength, potential and beauty.

I think it’s very important to mention two themes that arose throughout my time at Pratt. Two themes that I never imagined I’d be able to cope with, at least this soon after graduation. One is the ability to detach from the patients and the other is ability to self‐care. Ask anyone that was with me over these two years just how hard it was for me to separate me from them. In fact, that’s why I started going to see a therapist. I brought my patients home with me every night. It was overwhelming, heartbreaking and exhausting. When papers were returned to me at school, chances are, the comment, “Are you in therapy yet?” was written on the last page from my professors. Seriously! That’s how bad it was!

Since I’ve started working three and half months ago, I’ve noticed that I haven’t brought the patients home with me. There’s the occasional rough day where I will, but more than not, I haven’t. I’ve wondered why and think it’s because as an intern, I was only on site twice a week, which meant that there were five days a week to wonder about, think about, pray for, and feel concern for the patients. I was also inundated with homework and was simultaneously trying to relate what I was reading to what I was experiencing at my internships. Therefore, I never let myself escape. Now that I’m with my patients five days a week, I play a much more hands on role in their day‐to‐day lives and treatment. I feel more in control of what’s happening with them, so when the time comes for me to go home or meet friends for dinner, I really allow myself to do just that.

And this goes hand‐in‐hand with self‐care. Because I am able to separate work from life, I have found that I am really enabling myself to live. I can’t remember the last time I was so social! I’ve come out of Pratt hibernation and have been trying new restaurants, sleeping more, walking more, exercising more, smiling more, appreciating more – and just taking it all in. I’m allowing myself to be somewhat selfish by making sure I have ME time.

As I mentioned earlier on, I was very nervous about losing the Safety net that I found at Pratt. I attended this year’s ADTA conference in Brooklyn, and for those of you that don’t know, at the closing of the conference, they honor all of the new RDMTs. They form two lines, like Soul Train, and one by one, we walk (or dance) through the line. As I stood at the beginning of the train, I saw all of these faces, familiar faces and new ones, waiting happily to welcome me into their family. So with tears, a smile and huge sense of Pride, I let my Soul lead me through the Train. And I thought to myself, “I have nothing to worry about. Not only did I not lose my Safety net, but I increased it by hundreds of people!” Hello Comfort.

I will leave you with one more thing that I find Comfort in. Last February, I went to, what turned out to be, a very posh charity event. The girls who were in attendance looked like they had stepped out of the September issue of Vogue. If I had been at this event a few years ago, I would’ve sulked and wished that I could have had the clothing and accessories they had. It didn’t take too long before I realized that I have a much greater accessory – mine just happens to be one that you can’t see. That night, I realized that I often feel like I’m carrying a wonderful secret that won’t be revealed unless you take the time to get to know me. It’s a secret that fills me with light brighter than their diamonds and rubies. It’s a secret that allows me to carry myself tall, as if I were in their four‐inch heels. It’s a secret that keeps me warm like the fur draped over their shoulders. This secret is my passion. And my passion is Dance/Movement Therapy. So no matter what season we’re in, no matter if a stranger took “my” seat on the C train, no matter if “he” didn’t respond to my text, I have my passion brewing from within. And it’s with me everywhere I go. It’s my partner‐in‐crime. It’s my answered prayer. It’s what makes getting up in the morning so easy. It’s what gets me excited when people say, “What do YOU do?” No matter where I am or what I’m doing, Dance/ Movement Therapy has become a huge part of who I am and where I’m going. So, if you pass me on the street and I look irritatingly happy, it’s because my passion is keeping me warm from within, more so than this cup of green tea in my hands. I share my (not‐so) secret with you. Shhh. Don’t tell!

-Kerin Nadler


The New York State Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association

Dance therapy, or dance/movement therapy (DMT), as defined by the American Dance Therapy Association, is “the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual.” (

People seeking psychotherapy often turn to verbal therapists; dance/movement therapists  work in both the verbal and nonverbal realms using the body as a primary medium for expression and, like many psychotherapists, have private practices with individual clients.  Dance/movement therapists are also employed in psychiatric hospitals, mental health clinics, day care centers, developmental centers, correctional facilities, schools and rehabilitation facilities, working with a wide range of people and ages, in individual and group therapy. Dance/movement therapy can also be used in couples and family counseling/therapy.

For more information about Dance/Movement Therapy, please visit our national organization’s website at



The New York State Chapter (NYSADTA) runs under the auspices and authority of the American Dance Therapy Association. We adhere to our own by-laws, while maintaining the standards and ethics set by the national Association.  Each year, NYSADTA  engages in a variety of activities to support our work and provide appropriate vehicles for the exchange of information with colleagues and the general public. We hold several business meetings, present educational workshops and host events for our members and interested allied professionals.

NYSADTA members participate in the annual, national ADTA conference both as presenters and as chapter representatives for important regional and national ADTA meetings.  The chapter provides consumers of mental health with a comprehensive list of qualified dance/movement therapists for consultation, and students and recent graduates with a list of supervisors. For a list of supervisors and therapists, please visit our Directory page.



Since 1979, with founding President Mary King, the NYSADTA  has been devoted to serving the needs of New York’s dance/movement therapists and the people they serve through education and promotion. After over thirty years of commitment, the New York Chapter has established itself as the largest chapter in the nation and one of the first chapters to be granted licensure in the United States.