The methodology “My body is my story” began in 2010 by the psychologist and dancer MARTHA ISABEL CÓRDOBA ARÉVALO in her activities as a research assistant of a psychoanalytic psychotherapy work group at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and as a teacher of dance of the Maria Sanford Foundation, with sexually violated adolescents who presented symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
In both groups, the researcher noticed how the participants who mainly presented blocks to express their most difficult life stories and episodes from the world, were precisely those who expressed themselves more intensely in the dance space. The body work that was achieved in this first stage was not presented to an audience despite the desire of the adolescents to show their work on stage. But there were 2 publications in the journals Apuntes de Psicología (Spain), and Revista de Psicología (Peru), respectively.
http://www.apuntesdepsicologia.es/index.php/revista/article/view/194/196, and http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?pid=S0254-92472012000100002&script=sci_arttext
Two years later, Colciencias was given support to the research proposal: “Body movement and empathy in sexually assaulted adolescents”, through the young researcher grant by Martha Isabel. Its main objective was to promote the construction of empathy using body movement as a tool.
Broadly speaking, an exploration of the development of the cognitive and affective aspects of the empathic process was carried out. Methodologically, 12 movement workshops were carried out with 9 adolescents, which were designed based on some methodologies typical of dance movement therapy such as the mirroring technique, and among others. One of these workshops was tested in its pilot phase with female cantaores (folkloric singers) from the department of Chocó (Colombia) who had experiences of violence and were part of the Chocolate foundation led by the social worker and dancer Carmenza Rojas, co-founder of what would later become the foundation MY BODY IS MY STORY. The remaining 11 workshops were evaluated during the walk, and combined with semi-structured interviews. The application of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index empathy test before and after the movement workshops, other instruments such as audiovisual recording, and field diaries for follow-up of process were conducted.
The achievements that were obtained at the empathic level were associated more with the cognitive aspect than with the affective one. This meant that there was an improvement in the ability to assess, think, hypothesize, and fantasize about the emotional, physical, and mental states of the others.
But the affective area of empathy required continuing strength through exploration, interpretation, and the elaboration of situations from her personal history. Regarding group work and body work, it was found that “the group work force facilitates processes of identification and empathic concern for others through a relationship of help and understanding.”
“Direct work with the body evidenced emotional pain, which was located in different parts of the body as if they were ghostly marks of the most difficult experiences. The internal states of boredom, tiredness, sleep, sadness, anger, etc.” Written by the participants in their diaries, they were involved with stories tattooed in places on the body such as the pelvis, crotch, head, eyes, abdomen, and etc., where apparently some of the most shocking experiences of their lives were marked.
These research contributions raised new hypotheses and questions, but also frustrations. After 12 months of work, the dancer still had not achieved the objective of bringing these participants to the stage. In this case because the intervention had specifically focused on “the therapeutic” impact of group bodywork.
This research article was published in the journal psychological thought (Colombia) entitled “Dance in therapeutic contexts”
At the beginning of 2013, Martha Isabel continued to develop dance classes and choreographic productions with these teenagers. This time voluntarily in her spare time. Six months later in July 2013, the Ministry of Culture supported the project: “MY BODY IS MY STORY: EMOTIONAL LIFE AND CHOREOGRAPHY”. Antorcha Films was the accomplice of the investigation, and the psychologist Aura Valencia Magister in creative therapies was the project’s tutor. A key guide to consolidate what happened.
It would be called “Methodology MY BODY IS MY STORY”.
“The work of a creator can be a much more effective piece of expression than a conversation, or action in everyday life ”(Storr, 1993, cited by Chaiklin, 2008, p. 46). From some psychological currents, artistic activity constitutes a vehicle for the expression of unconscious desires. Freud (1908) cited by Chaiklin (2008) defines artistic activity as a symbolic medium that allows aspects of psychic life to be “camouflaged” in aesthetic form, considering the need to continue strengthening the development of adolescent empathy from its affective dimension, “their life stories,” and to continue the experience in movement that began in the previous research. The researcher decides to generate a process focused on body work that contemplates the creation of scenic movement as a central method of symbolization:
“It is expected through choreographic work, using time in space based on rhythm, favoring the feeling of contagion and solidarity, promoting communication, and body awareness with the expression of repressed emotions and affections.” This time the work was with 2 groups, a group of adolescents who were going through the restoration of their rights under adverse psychological conditions as a result of experiences of sexual violence, child abuse, and / or abandonment. The second group were women of legal age who were going through processes of political struggle for their rights with different experiences of gender violence. Therefore, experiences such as choreography would allow generating a kind of transition rite (Meekums, 2005) in which the group body as a diversity of individual forces that make up the dynamic and transforming structure (Matoso, 1992), would be able to contain experiences with emotional group choreographic work which was expected to be highly beneficial for this population.
During 5 months of the first 4 stages of what would later be called the MCMH methodology were developed.
Starting from premises such as:
“The body is a scenic territory that keeps memory archives of lived experiences.” The research explored the process of choreographic creation as a facilitator of emotional contact in women, girls, and adolescents with experiences of violence. At the same time he took the stage work as a means of denouncing and making visible a public health problem such as “violence against women.”
For the first time, the researcher managed to stage silenced themes, kept in the body, or in the courts of unpunished cases that society ignores. Showing that creativity with the performing arts and group work are valuable tools of transformation that go beyond leisure and entertainment.
The staging included 9 adolescents linked to the Family Welfare Institute, and 4 women of the peaceful route of women. Additionally, 8 professional dancers, mostly from the renowned Maria Sanford dance academy who represented several of the movements was explored by the participants. Methodologically, there were 5 categories of analysis, namely: Emotional contact, Emotional expression, Personal experiences, Use of artistic resources, and Dramaturgy of Movement. These categories were approached through the triangulation of the data collected in the field diaries, the observations of the audiovisual material, the accounts of the participants about the process, and the process of choreographic composition. The corporal and scenic work generated a new possible route to link with their own body. By coming into contact with their own history and by expressing repressed affections, the participants managed to travel new routes which were different from those of the pain and shame of their past.
In the first half of 2014 the work was circulated in some spaces in the city of Cali. Up to this point, what would later be called “the rooting”, “the staging” and “the incarnation” were the central findings of the process. In the same year, the researcher resumed her work as a research assistant at the Javeriana University, presenting her proposal to several academics who applauded the result that had been achieved thus far. This experience led her to the intellectual construction of a new stage of the methodology: “elaboration” (all phases will be explained later).
In the middle of this year, the researcher met a group of fellow humanists and artists who expressed similar concerns and achievements. They decided to form the foundation MI CUERPO ES MI HISTORIA, which until then had been operating through the circulation of the theater dance work, and volunteer work. This was carried out by the researcher with the girls and women she gave classes and theater dance rehearsals to. At that time, the foundation had not been legally registered and operated under the name “EMBODY”. The development of this organization alliance with the Colombian-Brazilian foundation “Funbraco” inspired the researcher to continue rethinking the stages of the methodology; throwing another new stage: “entrepreneurship”. This, after a trip made to the Brazilian embassy with her partner Pablo Nacimiento from São Paulo. The researcher discovered the potential of opportunities, scholarships, and new paths that can be managed in international cooperation for the benefit of the populations.
Meanwhile, the foundation continued to grow, and consolidated itself organizationally as an entity that believes in art as a vehicle for enhancing mental, physical and spiritual health. Slowly but surely undertaking new intervention projects that train in values through the arts.
In 2015, Martha Isabel resumed her training as a scenic artist, taking part in an intensive musical theater workshop. It was directed by the Puerto Rican artist Luis Salgado, who manages to mobilize aspects of her psychic life, and themes of her investigative search. This is how the dancer and researcher confirms from their own history and hypotheses regarding the power not only of dance-theater, but also of music. This is why she adds them as important ingredients in the stages later called ” 1. Rooting ”and“ 4. Staging, ” It is understood that there is a need to train with the populations in theater, music, music therapy, drama therapy, and from a musical theater perspective.
Weeks after this workshop, Martha Isabel returned to the salsa academy where she learned to dance Tropical Swing., Getting in touch with her dream of participating in world salsa championships, and simultaneously with all the community and social processes that emerge from the culture and industry of salsa. This is how she rediscovers the importance of involving the families and support networks of the artists in the performing act. In return it led her to add a new element to the “Stage” phase ( will be described later).
In 2016, thanks to the dance research grant awarded by the secretary of culture, the researcher and her colleagues DAVID MOSQUERA (Musician and Psychologist), SELENE AREVALO (Community Leader), and DANIELA ROJAS (Photographer), in tutoring of the Professor ALEJANDRO ULLOA (Anthropologist from the Universidad del Valle), carry out a project on Afro cultural identity with boys, girls, and adolescents from Ladrilleros (Colombia). This work is very important for the trajectory of the methodology since it warns about the great importance of considering the cultural characteristics of each population before designing and executing the intervention programs.
Between 2015 and 2017, this methodology has been a precedent for more than 5 university research projects in psychology in the city of Cali.
Today this is the present of the methodology: 4 proven stages, 2 new stages, and more than 700 people including girls, adolescent boys, and women attached to the foundation MI CUERPO ES MI HISTORIA. There are eager participants waiting to be in this transformative experience, a methodology that is projected and continued to be studied and tested. In the near future, the neurosciences will be in charge of describing this finding, the son of the fields of psychology and the performing arts.
MCMH METHODOLOGY DESCRIPTION
“A transcendental artistic experience that bets on the capacities of resilience and empowerment of the being”.
“The participant goes on pilgrimage through 6 stages of work that connect them with authentic experiences of their life which will be expressed through an artistic language crystallized in a collective stage act of denunciation …”
The “MY BODY IS MY STORY” methodology constitutes an alternative to empowerment of the being, which generates processes of repair and resignification in the individual, the group, and the community. It gives a special value to the significant historical experiences (affections, emotions and ideas), of people being part of this transcendental experience. Starting from their personal dramas, the protagonists will go through 6 stages of work, which will make them creators (s), and playwrights of new meanings of their lives through a process of collective symbolization, personal and social conflicts, and transcended towards the elaboration of a life project.
This specialized methodology has been created to work from art with groups of approximately 8 to 16 participants who are willing to resignify life episodes in approximately 5, 8, or 12 months according to the available resources. The participants will have therapeutic, scenic, performing arts training, and self-coaching processes that will enhance their talents and healthy aspects of the self. They will have the opportunity to circulate locally, nationally, and internationally. Scenic results as artists have made their stories the inspiring material of their creations.
The basic principle of this methodology is to place the subject in a creative position, thus, the scenic phrases that emerge from within a “very intimate” source.
This particularity makes the stage act a space of emotional intimacy; by establishing a close relationship between movement and emotional experience. It is expected that once the process is completed from the first phase (rooting), to the last phase (entrepreneurship), a space of resignification, repair, empowerment, and elaboration of life experiences will open.