chapter  24
4 Pages

Dance in nursing education

Somatic awareness, improvisation and embodied leadership
WithHelle Winther

Nursing students are educated in a profession in which the senses, body contact, nakedness and feelings are an inevitable part of daily practice. This makes great demands on the nurse in question to be in contact with their own body and at the same time to tune oneself in to the patient’s often primarily sensual communication. Thus the language of the body is of great importance for somatic awareness, contactability, communication reading, presence and leadership in nursing practice. These qualities are also present in dance. For dance is the language of both the soul and the body. It is about tuning in. Following each other’s rhythms. Seeing and sensing. Giving and receiving. Leading and following. In presence.

This narrative will give a short portrait of a yearlong research collaboration between the Deaconess Foundation in Copenhagen and the University of Copenhagen. The Dancing Nurses Project has a wholeness-oriented, movement psychological and phenomenological approach. The project enquired whether courses of dance, and close-to-practice, theory-based reflection could be fruitful for the development of the nursing students’ embodied professionality. The results give concrete indications of how nursing education may include dance and movement teaching in order to develop new and heartfully embodied training in an always present part of the nursing profession. Therefore, movement teaching and an increased focus on the language of the body are now included in several courses of nursing education in Denmark. The project has innovative educational potentials. And it has received international attention. The results of the project also indicate that the combination of dance and embodied professional training is applicable in other educational fields.