Erikson Institute

The Dancing Dialogue: Using dance, movement, music, rhythm and the analysis of nonverbal communication to support babies, their families and the professionals that care for them

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The embodied experiential nature of our interactions can build emotional expression, social engagement, and strengthen the attachment relationship between infants/young children and their caregivers. It is not just what you say but how you say it - with your body - that counts. We communicate with babies, and each other before we even say a word. Babies also talk to us right from the beginning through their facial expressions, body actions, the quality of their vocalizations and even the way they look at us. This embodied experiential nature of our interactions can be used to understand the underlying meaning of an infant and young child’s behaviors as well as build emotional expression, social engagement and strengthen the attachment relationship.

Throughout this training Dr. Tortora will demonstrate how dance, movement, music and rhythmic activities can be used to support infants, young children and their families who have experienced trauma and are “at-risk”. Participants will learn a nonverbal analysis tool that can be used for clinical observation; assessment; and video-feedback parenting- infant education and intervention. During the afternoon the instructor will include embodied activities supporting reflective practice and self-care for the practitioner.

Dr. Suzi Tortora ED.D., BC-DMT, C.M.A., LCAT, LMHC

Dr. Tortora is a board certified dance movement therapist, Laban Nonverbal Movement Analyst, and specialist in the field of infancy mental health and development. Her expertise in early childhood development and the importance of early relationships inform her psychotherapeutic work across the life span. Dr. Tortora has a private dance movement psychotherapy practice, in New York City and Cold Spring-on-the-Hudson, New York. Dr. Tortora offers training programs and lectures about her dance therapy and nonverbal video analysis work with infants, children and families, at national and international professional meetings and universities.

She is on the board of the New York Zero-to-Three Network.

Dr Tortora has been featured on “Good Morning America” and Eyewitness Five-O’Clock News, WABC –TV; Women’s Day magazine; highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker article and book titled What the Dog Saw and other adventures; has published numerous papers about her therapeutic and nonverbal communication analysis work with children, parent-infant dyads, and Autism Spectrum Disorders; has twice been guest editor of the Zero to Three Journal; and has a book with Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company titled The Dancing Dialogue: Using the Communicative Power of Movement with Young Children.

Dr. Tortora graduated with honors from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development Tufts University specializing in child development, education and psychology; received her dance movement therapy masters degree at New York University; and her doctorate with a specialization in infancy/early childhood development, psychology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 


She has done extensive study and training in the field of infancy and early childhood research, development, education, communication and intervention through the Zero to Three Institute and Dr. Stanley Greenspan. She has studied Authentic Movement with Janet Adler & Body-Mind Centering with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Dr Tortora is also a certified Laban Movement Analyst, and Kestenberg Movement Profiler.

Early Registration Fees Before February 28th- $99.
February 28th and after- $115


Learning objectives:

  1. Understand the role of embodied, multisensory, and preverbal experience in early infancy and childhood emotional/social development.
  2. Understand the role of nonverbal analysis for assessment and clinical intervention with infants, young children and their caregivers. 
  3. Winnicott to neuroscience, learn how object relations theory and current neuroscience research provide a foundation for creative and movement-based interventions.
  4. Learn how creative, multimodal and interactive explorations using dance, movement, dance-play, music and nonverbal expression are used to facilitate psychobehavioral change with infants and young children “at-risk” and who have experiences trauma.
  5. Learn embodied and mindfulness activities to support reflective practice and self-care for the practitioners working with this population. 

Who Should Attend?

The emotional and behavioral challenges seen as children grow older are often related to gaps and lapses in the foundation of their development. These gaps can derail basic capacities to relate and communicate, share attention and self-regulate. Developmental disturbance can disrupt the formation of empathy and comprehension of the world around and the capacity to communicate thoughts and feelings with words, play and other symbols. These disruptions in development can have life-long consequences without intervention.

The focus of this series i.e., understanding the foundations of development and early experiences, make sense for any clinician who is interested in training that will support and enhance their work with families and children of all ages such as Social Workers, Developmental Therapists, Pediatricians, Psychiatrists, Neonatologists, Nurse Practitioners, Midwives , Speech Pathologists, Psychologists, Early Care and Education providers and teachers, Obstetricians, Family Therapists, Professional Counselors, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and others whose work impacts the lives of infants, young children and families.

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