More than a Talk.

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of delivering the keynote presentation at the annual spring conference of the New England chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association (NEADTA).

During the weeks leading up to it, I sought support and input from several people, including my husband. When I returned home after the conference I told him how humbled I was that people were in tears at the end of the keynote.

He looked at me quizzically and asked if I had changed my presentation plan. Based on what I had shared with him, he was surprised to hear that the audience had such an emotive response.

I replied that it was not my talk that moved people; it was the experience I created for them. More about this below.

My Inspiration.

I became a therapist because I discovered the field of dance/movement therapy, which allowed me to take a passion older than my oldest memories and bring it to the service of helping others. When I think about what I really want to be able to help my clients with, it is to feel the freedom and joy in themselves and about who they are that I have always experienced when I am dancing.

Dance/movement therapy practices are broad and diverse, but regardless of client’s, settings and techniques, at its core is the belief that the body and mind must be treated as an interconnected whole and that movement, dance and the arts are powerful catalysts for healing, connection and growth.

The nature of dance/movement therapy is experiential. From cultivating awareness of breath while seated in a chair to performance as therapy, movement is a foundational element. Dance/movement therapists teach with experiential methods, using movement and dance in workshops, classrooms and client psychoeducation.

And increasingly we are bringing these approaches into keynote presentations. The intimate size of the NEADTA conference lends itself to flexibility of format, but even in a full ballroom with typical theater seating at the national American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) conference this past fall, Dr. Lenore Hervey brilliantly included movement, both as an element of her presentation and through audience participation.

My keynote.

The NEADTA conference theme this year was “Dance/Movement Therapy: Strengthening the Development of Self, Practice, and Profession”. Inspired by those who had led the way, I wanted to contribute to our growth through the creative and embodied approaches that are the hallmark of our work. I knew my keynote must be experiential and include movement.

I did talk. But really, what I had to say just set the stage. The messages that I shared were discovered by the audience through their own bodies and imaginations in a shared experience.  This is what moved them to tears.

If you were to ask people who were there what the keynote was about, I have the sense they would each say something very personal. And yet, there would also be common themes and threads tying it to the larger connected experience of the group.

Curious about the keynote? I’ll be taking some time over the upcoming weeks to share more about it.  Stay tuned….

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde is typically given credit for this quote, but thinks not. In any case, it’s valuable guidance.

For my keynote, it was important to me to both embrace the methods of the profession, and to bring my own strengths, gifts and personality to it (quirks and all).


I know what it’s like to try to fit into someone else’s expectations, or even my own perceptions of vague, generic external expectations, and I know how draining this can be, and how much tension it can create.

The more I discover what it’s like to let go of all of that and be committed to being me, the more I find that it’s really good. It brings clarity and ease, opens me to possibility and innovation.  It supports me in doing work that I really love and in finding ways to share it with others.

It was the key ingredient in creating a keynote presentation that moved people to tears.

Watch the video.

This is usually the place in a blog article where I offer a body-based activity to explore the ideas I’ve been sharing. Today, it’s show and tell. I’m sharing a short video of highlights from the conference keynote.

I invite you to notice what you experience in your own body and your own imagination, and to consider what inspires and moves you.  What would you like to embrace?

NEADTA Conference 2015 Keynote Highlights

This article is intended for informational purposes only.

It is not to be considered as legal, ethical, clinical, treatment planning, treatment recommendations, or any other business or clinical practice advice related to your work as a therapist, or business advice on how you choose to use this material.

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© 2021 Annabelle Coote & Fire Within


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