Dance for All (DFA): Social & Emotional Learning through Creative Movement
Learn to facilitate a dance-and-yoga-informed creative movement curriculum for social emotional learning that is easily adaptable for all ages and abilities—all while engaging in self-care.
The Dance for All (DFA) curriculum encourages movement discovery and freedom of expression without self-consciousness. It breaks down movement into an accessible creative process without focus on performance or mastery, to support both self-care and working with any population. You will be dancing from the start without even knowing how it happened!
The comprehensive DFA curriculum for this online training includes eight theme-based modules based in dance/movement therapy and yoga, each divided into three sections, which can be mixed and matched according to the needs of the dancers. This facilitator training will provide step-by-step directions, pre-and-post-discussion prompts, props/music suggestions, and helpful, online tips for virtual teaching. Participants will have a hands-on opportunity to practice teaching the curriculum with support and guidance.
This highly experiential online training highlights the importance of self-care and personal development for the facilitator, with an emphasis on participant connection and collaboration. The principles upon which this curriculum is based apply to developing movement skills safely and accessibly in all populations.
Watch a short introduction video on the Dance for All curriculum.
Sample Themes Include
- Introductions: Fun and creative methods for beginning a class
- Friendship: Building social skills and recognizing social cues
- Feelings Identification: Identifying emotions to facilitate self-regulation
- Posture: Developing body awareness
- Calm Body: Creative and soothing methods to facilitate self regulation
“I’ve been using the new techniques you taught us, such as starting with a simple, rhythmic song to get them dancing, clapping out the syllables of their name while they say it to the group, and inviting each person to pick a part of the body for us to warm up! We are getting a lot of participation now. I also looked for signs of engagement from one young man who refuses to dance with us. By the end of class his legs were bouncing energetically while he sat in his chair.” – Sarah Haykel, Dance and Yoga Instructor and Life Coach
“I had a great experience teaching Dance For All. The notes provided by Hilary Kern and Kathy Cass were very helpful for me in order to formulate a certain structure for the class, as well as a fun way to introduce the topic of balance. I felt like I was free to experiment and develop my own teaching style throughout the class. I learned and practiced different ways to communicate instructions to the dancers by using words that were more clear and understandable for them. I feel like I learned a lot of effective communication and leadership skills by teaching this class, and I’m looking forward to teaching my next class.” – Clorinda Rossi-Shewan, MA, Dance For All Instructor
“For someone like Elisa whose cognitive skills and verbal expression are limited, dance has been a wonderful vehicle for her to express herself. Dance class is also a social environment where she is fully accepted and appreciated, which helps bolster both her social skills and her self-esteem. As Elisa’s mother, I have always wanted Elisa to participate in activities that she enjoys and to have as rich a life as possible despite her limitations. I also want to surround her with people that truly care about her and want to contribute to her joy, sense of well-being, and good self-esteem. It fills my heart when I see her happy and when she tells me, ‘I love my life!’ I know DFA has helped Elisa feel that way about her life.” – Lora Jerugim, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Dance For All Parent
“Learning dance techniques have helped me in every day of my life. E.g. walking in crowds and crowded intersections. My favorite DFA moments are when we are all happy laughing together. DFA has brought me increased sociability—increased physical fitness and a better mood.” – Kellie, Dance For All Participant and Mentor
“Lexi was only ten years old when we found out about a dance program for youth and adults with special needs. We were invited to bring her by to see if it would be a good ‘fit.’ Well, Lexi started dancing that day and,thirteen years later, she hasn’t stopped. At Dance For All, Lex is a dancer, a friend, a helper, a choreographer, and a valued and contributing member of a group of very special individuals who want nothing more than to have fun together and bring joy and light into our world. At the helm of this remarkable program is Hilary Kern — a beautiful young woman who is not only a teacher and guide, she is starshine personified. – Hillary Kessler, Program Manager, Client Services, Westside Regional Center, Dance For All Parent
Written by DFA program developers, Kathy Cass MA, BC-DMT, NCC, C-IAYT, CAHC, AYT, and Hilary Kern MA, LMFT, ATR, CYT, the comprehensive manual includes eight theme-based modules with step-by-step directions, pre-and-post-discussion prompts, props/music suggestions, and helpful hints are included for all movement activities.
Training Instructors & Program Development Team:
Clory Rossi-Shewan, MA, LMFT is a lead instructor at Dance For All, and has been a committed member of the team since 2011. Clory is originally from Italy, where she trained and performed as a professional dancer, as well as worked as a dance instructor and choreographer over the course of 20 years. She studied ballet and modern dance mainly at Balletto di Roma – Centro di Danza, and IALS – Centro Danza Musica e Teatro, in Rome. In 2001, she won a dance scholarship, and was able to train and perform in New York City with Ajkun Ballet Theatre and the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company. Clory’s scholarship also offered her the opportunity to take classes at American Ballet Theatre, Broadway Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway.
Clory discovered her love for psychology in the US, and graduated with an MA in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles in 2013. She is now a licensed psychotherapist, and works with college students and staff at Acacia Counseling and Wellness in Santa Barbara. Clory’s clinical experience includes facilitating therapeutic group activities such as art, dance-movement, yoga, drama, and play therapy designed for children with special needs at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in Los Angeles. She has been working with children with Autism, Asperger’s, behavioral, emotional and learning difficulties, as well neurologically impaired children. She also worked at the Southern California Counseling Center in Los Angeles, where she provided psychotherapy for individual adults and children, couples, and families.
Vicki Alvarez, MS, R-DMT graduated from California State University, Northridge in 2016 where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and minored in Dance. She was born and raised in San Francisco where she joined a theatrical hip-hop dance company that gave her opportunities to perform at many competitions as well as TV shows such as America’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance. She has also been trained in jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, and modern. Vicki spent three months in London doing an internship abroad for a mental health organization for adults. She completed her Master’s of Science degree in Dance/Movement Therapy at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and currently provides dance/movement therapy for adolescents at inpatient and outpatient facilities under Discovery Mood & Anxiety. She also works with the Hummingbird Project as an Activity Specialist enriching quality of life for elderly clients with dementia. In 2014 she began as an intern with the Dance For All program in Santa Monica. Now she has re-branded the program and created Let’s Dance it Out with her co-creator Clory. As a spiritual person she believes that the body serves as the unconscious mind, which can be channeled in many powerful ways to bring healing across many populations using the universal language of movement, developing relationships and connections with one another, and ultimately creating a deepened sense of empathy and overall well being.
Kathy Cass MA, BC-DMT, NCC, C-IAYT, CAHC, AYT-NAMA is a board-certified dance/movement therapist, nationally certified counselor, certified yoga therapist certified Ayurvedic health counselor, and Ayurvedic yoga therapist with over 30 years of instructional and clinical experience. She is the co-author of the curriculum and training program, Dance For All. She is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at El Camino Community College and Santa Monica College, Emeritus Division. Kathy is advisor and core faculty for Arts & Healing Initiative’s Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts. She has been a guest lecturer at UCLA, Scripps College, and CMER at Loyola Marymount University. Kathy maintains a private Ayurvedic yoga therapy and consulting practice in Santa Monica, CA, where she empowers her students and clients to reconnect with their true nature through movement, breath, nature, and the arts. Visit www.kathycass.com for more information.
Hilary Kern MA, LMFT, ATR, CYT created Dance for All based on the teachings and inspiration from her mentor, Kathy Cass. For nearly a decade, Hilary directed Dance For All, where she created a community of passionate teachers and interns through mentorship and education. She co-wrote the Dance For All curriculum with Kathy Cass to bring both of their discoveries from over the past 20+ years to the teaching and training communities. Hilary has also worked as a licensed therapist with a focus on art therapy, somatic and relational approaches. Hilary currently applies her experience and training to her practice as a certified sex, love, and relationship coach, where she helps women awaken joy and come alive. Visit www.hilarykern.com for more information.
For More Information
Let’s Dance It Out is a community class located in Santa Monica that uses the DFA curriculum. For more information on volunteering, please contact Vicki Alvarez at email@example.com.
For further inquiries on our facilitator trainings and/or the DFA manual, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us at (310) 452-1439.
Participant Expectation Policy
In accordance with our mission and cultural, equity and inclusion practices, our aim is to foster a supportive, healing, and collaborative learning environment, whether in an online or in-person setting.
With this goal in mind, we ask our program participants and staff to acknowledge, and abide by, the following community agreements:
- Practice loving kindness, nonjudgment, and listening to understand
- Acknowledge your feelings and the feelings of others
- Practice cultural humility, acknowledging the lived experience of others and our own privilege and biases
- Hold in confidence what is shared here personally
- When speaking, be mindful of time for others to be heard
- Practice self-care and seek support as needed
- Keep cameras on, if/when possible, to maintain your presence
In order to protect participant and staff safety as well as the integrity of our programming, we have adopted and maintain a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate and/or triggering behavior, whether accidental or intentional. Such behavior includes offensive or discriminatory actions related to sex, gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, ancestry, religious creed, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, marital status, military or veteran status, medical condition, genetic information, or any other characteristic.
Digital Media Release Policy
By registering, you give Arts & Healing Initiative approval to record this event, still and/or moving images from which may appear in printed materials or digital channels for archival, educational, or promotional purposes. Note that Zoom breakout rooms are not recorded.
In order to keep our programs affordable yet self-sustaining, we regret that we are unable to offer refunds on enrollment fees ; however, we are happy to provide you with credit good for one year from the date of the program toward the next offering of the same program or a different one. Credit applied toward a program with higher registration fees will require payment of the balance. In addition, credit may be applied toward purchase of curriculum materials for any program. Unused fees after one year would then be tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law because no goods or services would have been received for them.
Click here for our Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts refund policy.
- Enroll in a PhD, PsyD, or master's degree program in clinical or counseling psychology, social work, or marriage and family therapy, and then supplement your training with creative arts therapy training in your art form(s) of interest.
- Enroll in a graduate program in one of the creative arts therapies. Most of the credentials offered in these fields, which teach integration of specific art forms with mental health practices, are at the master’s level.
- Enroll in a two-year training program in Expressive Arts Therapies. These programs offer credentialing in the integrated use of a variety of art forms for therapeutic purposes.
- Enroll in our Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts. This comprehensive program is for anyone who wishes to learn how to design, deliver, and evaluate their own effective programs. It offers practical training that addresses what professionals may encounter in the community. Creative arts therapists who have taken the program have reported that it is invaluable and offers training in areas not addressed by their previous academic curricula. Many of our trainees come from the arts, education, mental health, and complementary health care. Some are fresh out of college and exploring career options, others are mid-career and wanting to add a therapeutic element to their work, and still others are making career transitions after many years in other professions.
- Enroll in our online, four-session Social Emotional Arts on a Shoestring training offered as part of our signature programming, or join us for the two-day online offering at our annual conference on Creativity & the Arts in Healing. This training offers scripted activities in four different art forms that are adaptable to any population, setting, ability level, time frame, or budget. It can be used with groups or individuals. It teaches the key principles of social emotional arts work.
- Additionally, volunteering is a great way to familiarize yourself with the field and what it is like to work with different populations. Here are several possibilities:
- We often seek translators/interpreters to volunteer their services at our workshops.
- There are two programs that partner with Arts & Healing Initiative, which often actively seek volunteers: ALMA (Addressing Loneliness through Movement and Art) and the Creative Minds Project (although Creative Minds Project may require more extensive training in order to be involved).
- Some of our organizational partners often seek volunteers as well: Safe Place for Youth, Able Arts Work, and The Miracle Project are a few examples.
- We also partner with a Therapeutic Arts Group for UCLA medical and undergraduate students.
- Professionals who have completed a formal degree program in the creative arts therapies, typically involving masters level integrated training in mental health and the arts with supervised internship hours and a certification option.
- Mental health practitioners who have created a social-emotional arts curriculum for a specific population that is well documented and tested.
- Graduates of our Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts who have demonstrated mastery of their training in the design and delivery of programs that maximize the social-emotional benefits of arts experiences.
- Recruitment is also often based in knowledge of an individual’s work and recommendations from trusted sources.