Winter Newsletter

December 18, 2012

Season’s Greetings!

As this year comes to an end, I’d like to take the time to reach out to our membership in the spirit of reconnecting to ourselves and to each other. This past year brought many opportunities for growth and healing. As a board, we were proud to offer events such as the Barefoot Boogie Fundraiser and the Hip Hop Psychology Workshop, as well as the Post-Sandy Gathering for creative arts therapists.

As a new board, this year also brought challenges, as the forming of any new group does. We are proud to say that we have taken important steps to increase organization and transparency in terms of the board’s communication with the membership. We are currently in the process of incorporating and getting our not-for profit status. From our Treasurer, George Jagatic:

In an effort to legitimize our organization financially, steps have been taken to officially incorporate and proceed toward acquiring a not-for-profit status for the chapter. This process began with a consultation with an accountant who was extremely informative and agreed to continue to help as we move forward. Since overcoming a few administrative hurdles, we have continued to move forward and are just about to open our checking account with the new incorporated status. Go NYS Chapter!

In the new year, we look forward to providing more opportunities to make contact with our fellow dance/movement therapists through events and workshops such as the Dance/ Movement Therapy Gathering, the first of which was prompted by our collective need to come together and process in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I encourage you to make contact with me or any board member with questions and concerns, ideas for future events, and/or suggestions of ways to improve communication within our community.

We believe it is of the highest import that we engage and involve each member through Chapter events, activities and promotional efforts throughout the city and state. Our main goal is to support, develop and cultivate the interests, creativity, and engagement of our membership. Our mission is to be of service to our members and to future members. We plan to accomplish this by creating opportunities for dance therapy awareness, sustaining and continuing to raise chapter funds, and reaffirming the importance of the healing power of the arts. Our most important goal, though, is to empower you, our membership.

I speak for the entire Board in saying we are very much looking forward to serving and collaborating with you over the next 2 years.

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

President, NYS-ADTA



See What’s Happening!


Dance Movement Therapy Gatherings


This past November, the NYSADTA invited members of the community to come together in the wake in Hurricane Sandy in an effort to provide support, connection, and healing through movement and personal expression. Creative arts therapists across modalities attended, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Many who were unable to attend also expressed their support for this effort. Many attendees found the gathering to be a safe space in which to express the full range of emotions surrounding this collective trauma and to reconnect on a body level with fellow creative arts therapists. Additionally, we as a board felt that this gathering provided a missing link with regard to communication and connection within the NYSADTA community.

We believe that moving together as therapists and as people provides a unique experience of great value. For that reason, we are excited to invite the community to gather together in this way once a month over the next several months. These gatherings will be open to all creative arts therapists. The board looks forward to consistently providing this space to come together. Please stay tuned via email and our Facebook page for details. We hope to see you there!


NYSADTA Board Member Bios

Get Acquainted with your Board Members!


Cara Gallo, PresidentCara A. Gallo, MS/BC-DMT/LCAT, has practiced in the field of Dance/Movement Therapy since 2004. Additionally, she completed a two-year training in the practice of Authentic Movement in Spring 2011 and is currently enrolled in the EGPS Group Training Program that partially fulfills the requirements of the Group Psychotherapist Certification or CGP. Cara began her foray into dance therapy after her undergraduate studies at Hunter College in dance and psychology. Her interest in the two modalities inspired her desire to understand the deep connection between the body and mind. After completing her master’s degree training at Pratt Institute she worked at Bellevue Hospital Center. During her tenure there her area of specialization was child, adolescent and adult psychiatry.  Cara is currently in private practice in NYC.  She offers Dance/Movement Therapy groups at The League School, 14th Street Y and is adjunct faculty at The College of New Rochelle. Cara’s goal as President of the NYS-Chapter is to support strong, transparent and supportive relationship between the Chapter membership and the Board.  She believes it is through this quality of relationship that our group and community can grow ever stronger and reach others.Deniz Oktay, Vice PresidentDeniz Oktay, MS/BC-DMT/LCAT, has been employed as a dance/movement therapist at Bellevue Hospital for eight years. During that time, she has enjoyed working almost exclusively with the forensic population. She completed two years of training in “Authentic Movement for Therapists” and currently co-leads an Authentic Movement group with her colleague, Cara Gallo. Deniz earned her master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy from Pratt Institute in 2004. Prior to becoming a DMT, Deniz performed with several modern dance companies. She has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Michigan. As Vice President of the Board of Directors, Deniz hopes to serve the members of New York State by listening to the needs of the DMT community and finding ways to create change in a positive direction for our growing field. She hopes that in serving the members, we are able to become more unified and recognized within the community at large.George Jagatic, Treasurer

George Jagatic (LCAT, Supervisor at Kings County Hospital, Founder & Choreographer – Axis Danz), has a long history in dance and other movement art forms including yoga, tai chi and movement meditation.  He has worked diligently over the past twenty years with the art of flag dancing and is the founder of Axis Danz, a professional performance company.  Since the inception of Axis Danz, many articles have been written about George’s work and he has become known as one of the respected leaders in the field. Over the last decade, George has fused his skills in dance, flagging and movement therapy to not only teach others about the positive aspects of a wide range of movement styles, but to provide enriching experiences which encouraged self discovery for the mind, body and spirit. George received his Master’s in Dance/ Movement Therapy from Pratt Institute and is a licensed creative arts therapist, as well as a group therapist, certified through the Eastern Group Therapy Association.  He offers workshops and classes and is currently supervising dance therapists at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.


Jennifer Daniel, Recording Secretary

Jennifer Daniel, MS/BC-DMT/ LCAT, received her master’s degree with distinction from Pratt Institute in 2007 and began working in outpatient psychiatry at Queens Hospital Center.  She has since worked at The League School and The FOCUS Center with developmentally delayed children.  She has been involved in the New York State chapter of the ADTA since 2006 in the positions of student liaison, corresponding secretary, and now recording secretary.  Jennifer is currently on maternity leave taking care of her young daughter, and is glad to be part of the chapter board. She enjoys being an active part of the chapter, staying in touch with our community of professionals, and helping bring dance/movement therapy to the public. She finds her position to be extremely rewarding because it provides her the opportunity to be present at board meetings and events, participate in programming, and connecting with others on a regular basis.


Stephanie Gail Ross, Corresponding Secretary

Stephanie Ross is a native of Michigan and received her MA in Creative Arts Therapy – Dance/Movement Therapy from Drexel University. She has always had a desire to work with children and is currently developing dance therapy groups for infants and moms. Being relatively new to New York, Stephanie joined the board of the NYSADTA to make connections with local DMTs, and to stay connected to the DMT community at large.  Stephanie is also the Artistic Director/Choreographer of Body Threads Dance Company, and the Associate Artistic Director of Turnstyle Theatre Company, both based in Manhattan.


Laura Raffa, Fundraising Chair

Laura Raffa, MS/BC-DMT/LCAT, graduated from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University in 2005 with a BA in dance and a psychology minor.  She earned her MS with distinction from Pratt University in February 2010. She completed a post-graduate training in Authentic Movement and is currently in a two year multimodality therapy training. She has interned at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where she worked with pediatric patients and facilitated dance/movement therapy groups with children on the autism spectrum. From September 2008 to April 2011, she worked at Montefiore Medical Center on an adult acute inpatient unit. She currently works at Bellevue Hospital as a creative arts therapist facilitating Dance/Movement Therapy groups with a forensic psychiatric population. Since living in New York she has danced with local companies, including Dean Street Foo and Cara Gallo Dancers.


Renee Ortega, PR Chair

Renee Ortega is a registered dance/movement therapist and limited permit creative arts therapist (LCAT).  In addition she is a SIPT certified occupational therapy practitioner. Over the past several years she has worked with both adult and pediatric populations in both dance/movement therapy and occupational therapy.  Ms. Ortega has specialized and trained in the areas of sensory integration, Applied Behavioral Analysis and Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime.  She has educated, trained, treated and supervised students and clients using and pairing techniques and tools from both professions.


Marie Aguirre, LCAT Program Chair

Marie Aguirre, MS, BC-DMT, has worked adult in-patient psychiatry, special education, and day treatment.  She has served on past boards as Vice President and Program Chair. In 2005, Marie founded Dance to Connect which provides after-school dance classes, private consultation,  improvisation labs.  She performs with the Elena Lentini Dance Company and NY Sacred Dance Guild. Marie continues her lifelong love of dance by choreographing and the study of various dance forms and healing arts. I am very grateful to have this opportunity to again serve our community and work alongside such creative fellow board members.


Gianna Lafronza, IT Chair

Gianna Lafronza is employed as a Dance/Movement Therapist at Woodhull Medical Center where she works with an adult inpatient psychiatric population. Gianna earned her MS in Dance/Movement Therapy from Pratt Institute during which time she served on the board of the NYSADTA as the student liaison and on the student membership committee for the ADTA. Prior to becoming a Dance/Movement Therapist, Gianna worked in business development and as a crisis counselor while teaching dance and performing with small companies in New York City. In serving the board as technology chair, Gianna hopes to use available technology to build a stronger community.


Jenelle Feldman, Newsletter Co-Chair

Jenelle Feldman is a recent graduate of Pratt Institute’s Dance/Movement Therapy program. During her time in the program she interned in an adult day treatment facility and with children on the autism spectrum. She received her BA in Dance from Sonoma State University with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She joined the board earlier this year and is excited to be serving as the newsletter co-chair. She hopes to help strengthen communication between the board members and dance/movement therapists in New York State.


Kate Patchett, Newsletter Co-Chair

Kate Patchett graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2006 with BAs in Philosophy and Dance. She is a recent graduate of Pratt Institute’s Dance/Movement Therapy program. She has interned at Bellevue Hospital with a forensic psychiatric inpatient population; Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital with a long-term nursing population; and both special needs and typically developing children at various schools and centers throughout Manhattan. Kate is a registered yoga teacher and has been teaching creative movement and yoga to children since 2007. Through her position as newsletter co-chair, Kate hopes to facilitate communication and the free flow of information between the New York State Chapter of the ADTA and it’s members.


Angela DeWall, Student Liaison

Angela DeWall liases between the NYSADTA and the Dance/Movement Therapy students at Pratt Institute for the 2012-2013 year. She is a first year graduate student at Pratt Institute and is eager to see what path her life takes after graduation in May 2014. She received her BA in Movement and Exercise Science with a double minor in Dance and Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa. She is originally from Storm Lake, IA, where Dance Therapy is unheard of. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY but may one day, with support from others, be able to spread this therapy into the Mid-West. As student liaison, she hopes to create relationships with other local dance/movement therapists and to aid in communication between Dance/Movement Therapy students and the members of the board.


Below, please find the link to our Facebook page. “Like” us for another way to stay connected to goings-on with the NYSADTA.


Remember to visit the NYSADTA website often for updates to our blog as well as upcoming events and useful resources.


We hope that this newsletter finds you and yours healthy and happy through the holiday season and into the new year.


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.