Expression through Movement

Expression through Movement

By: Elizabeth Vander Kamp 

What is it?

Expression through Movement (EM) is a revitalizing workout that pulls inspiration from Nia, music, theatre, dance, sounding, martial arts, the healing arts of yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, and Alexander Technique.

Who can do it?

Anyone!  Because of the variety of movement techniques employed, there truly is something for everyone.  People who ambulate in wheelchairs are invited to use their upper bodies.  People with multiple sclerosis, who sometimes need support for balancing, use a mobile ballet bar.  Movers with arthritis are encouraged to make movements smaller or translate the movements into a way that feels safe and healthy to their body. If you can breathe, you can express yourself through movement.  Expression through Movement strives for complete inclusion.

Why do it?    

Expression through Movement is fun, and also a great workout for the cardiovascular system.  The assortments of movements improve balance and flexibility.  Movers are encouraged to translate the dance into their own bodies. Due to this process, body awareness improves.  Sounding, or using the voice while exercising, ensures breathing and can provide expression of emotion.

What to wear?

Participants in Expression though Movement are encouraged to wear stretchy, comfortable clothing.  Movers do sweat in Expression through Movement, so a layer that can be taken off as body heat increases might be helpful.  For some movers, EM is safe to do barefoot.  For others, no skid socks work.  Soft soled shoes are also acceptable.

A Sample Expression through Movement Class:

If you are interested in creating an Expression through Movement class, here are some guidelines:

  • Ensure that the space is safe (i.e., floor surface is flat and clear of equipment, mirrors are helpful for demonstrating and developing body awareness) and accessible (i.e., there is a ballet bar for people to hold, chairs are available for sitting, space for wheelchairs and walkers).
  • Ensure that the psychological space is also safe.  Everybody is welcome in Expression through Movement.  Movements are made to be translated or adapted for each participant.
  • Look to activities of daily living (ADLs) for movement inspiration.  For example, ambulating forward, reaching for a top shelf or a bottom shelf, stretching, dressing and undressing. 
  • From these daily activities, find patterns that can be repeated, such as ambulating forward and then back.  Taking a shirt off by crossing the arms in front, grabbing the shirt and lifting it over the head, then reverse the movement.  Add a balancing exercise from the task of putting on pants or socks while standing on one leg or sitting with only one leg on the floor.
  • Free-dance is an important element of Expression through Movement.  Participants are asked to interpret the music into their own bodies and pay attention to how they are moving. 
  • Taking into consideration all of the above, lastly you need to add music!  Music licensing is available through the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI)   A typical EM class includes warm-up music, medium to high intensity (faster) music, and then a cool down.

Special Note:

The inclusive community of Expression through Movement welcomes and honors the uniqueness of everybody.


Please contact Elizabeth Vander Kamp, Creator of Expression through Movement, at Lakeshore Foundation.
Phone:  205.313.7472

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