Creative and artful ways of engaging conflict….

Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle LeBaron for our onconflict podcast. Her episode is coming out March 14.

One aspect of Michelle’s work that intrigues me, and that we didn’t get a chance to dive into, is her work with internationally known Canadian dancer and choreographer Margie Gillis.  Michelle and Margie did a lot of collaborating resulting in a book entitled The Choreograph of Resolution: Conflict, Movement and Neuroscience.

Michelle’s book focuses on examining what dancers already know about conflict and exploring how those lessons and principles can be used by those of us with an interest in engaging conflict.  What they discovered together is that dancers know a great deal about conflict, as it is inherent in what they express in their movement and their dance.

One of the cross-applications is something that I’ve been aware of and using in my mediation work for years.  Drawing on my years (and former life) as an aerobics dance teacher, I have been very aware of how my body and others’ bodies interact in space.

The art of dance offers for us the opportunity to be more aware of our bodies and how they function in conflict.  Through dance, we can learn where and when our bodies are out of alignment.  In this way, physically-based training helps us be more present to conflict.

One of the exercises Margie Gillis created is called “Everyone you aren’t.”  The idea is  to move in relation to the other person and to be aware of occupying space they are not in.  This is a helpful analogue with conflict, as we tend to occupy space competitively, instead of cooperatively.

If you are interested in more on this topic, this is a great review and summary of some of the gems of Michelle’s book.

“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.”  …  Agnes de Mille