Dance-Intelligence is a collaboration between John Hamman and Jodie Mackay, merging the worlds of psychology and ballroom dance. What do the worlds of psychology and ballroom have in common, you may ask? They both help to improve and deepen our relationship with self and others, psychology perhaps more consciously, but in the world of ballroom there is a growing awareness of consciousness applied in dancing. Perhaps we can refer to this as Dance Intelligence. 

Dance is a powerful means to bring about change. Partnered dance therapy (PDT) is an embodied approach offered to those with no dance experience interested in improving their primary relationships. PDT can help couples work through intimacy issues, communicate better and  strengthen their bonds. 

For those who are already ballroom dancing, we believe that the emotional, mental and physical stability of each partner contributes to the overall success of the couple. Keeping dancers connected in their relationships and motivated in their work is enormously beneficial to mental health and dance performance. When emotional growth happens alongside professional growth, success becomes truly authentic, meaningful and lasting.

Because focusing on external achievement alone is not sustainable, Dance-Intelligence has created a series of psycho-educational and therapeutic workshops exploring the emotional and physical intelligence inherent in partnered dance, and the effects on dance relationships. The areas of focus are dance and emotional intimacy, expanding body intelligence, and discovering your individual dance personality. A performance oriented workshop for competitive dancers is available for those interested in the emotional and mental aspects of performance readiness. 

Our workshops are offered to dancers from different backgrounds, not only ballroom, such as ballet, salsa, tap, hip hop, Argentine tango, jazz or contemporary dance. 

Our overall aim is to assist in co-creating an environment condusive to attaining the flow state of optimal experience, in both practice and performance. The concept of flow comes from the discipline of positive psychology and involves aspects of emotional well-being, engagement, creativity and focus. A ‘flow friendly’ environment is that in which the probability of the occurrence of flow and optimal performance is increased. 

We endeavour to support dancers become the best version of themselves, personally and professionally, by also creating personalised strategies alongside our interactive workshops to build and strengthen dance-intelligence. We believe that more focus on personal development within the context of dance, affirms the full capacity of dancers’ artistic expression. 

Jodie Mackay

M.A. Clinical Psychology (UCT, 2000)
I am a Clinical Psychologist currently in private practice in Cape Town, South Africa. I graduated with a Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Cape Town in 2000, and have found great satisfaction in working particularly with students who have developed health conditions that are often stress related.  

Having danced as a child and adolescent, when taking up the challenge of ballroom dancing in mid-life, I initially struggled with my inner perfectionism. This was about to ruin the joy of discovering that my love of dance remained unchanged after 30 years. After much introspection, I realised I was doing valuable emotional work during lessons, despite my well rehearsed emotional defences. My reasons therefore for continuing dance practice became less focused on external achievements, and are now more to do with living a heartfelt, connected life.

My interest in the therapeutic relationship between dancing and the self, the connection to the other through partnered dance, and the concept of body intelligence, inspired me to begin working on a PHD proposal in the area of psychology and ballroom dance. The topic is ‘Dancing: a metaphor for life. An exploration of how ballroom dance improves our relationship with self and others, by increasing emotional and body intelligence.’ I am a firm believer in the spirit of life-long learning. 

Experience gained in psychodynamic therapy, combined with academic research in the area of dance science, as well as personal wisdoms gained through dancing, is my personal motivation for creating Dance-Intelligence with John Hamman. My psychotherapy practice follows an integrative approach, where collaboration between different disciplines is honoured.

When I’m not seeing clients or wrestling with my shadow side in dance classes, you can find me sipping tea or coffee in 5-star hotel lounges (I’m convinced coffee tastes better in a 5-star setting), taking solitary beach and botanical garden walks, and watching cat videos on Instagram.

John Hamman

B.Bus.Sci Hons. (UCT, 2004)
Licentiate Ballroom & Latin (South African Dance Teachers Association)
My primary work experience includes training and coaching Ballroom and Latin dance students from beginners to advanced levels of competition. I am the head coach at the University of Cape Town Ballroom/Latin Dance Society and also run my own dance studio. I am Licentiate qualified in Ballroom and Latin and also hold a World Dance Council adjudicators licence. My academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Business Science (UCT, 2004).

Through my years of dance training and coaching, I have had the opportunity to observe the impacts of dance and movement on the individual, as well as the dynamics within partner dancing relationships. Through my personal dance experience, I believe that regular training as well as a high level of technical skill (requiring good coaches) is highly complemented by enhancing self-awareness and working through psychological aspects of oneself.

My working relationship with clinical psychologist, Jodie Mackay has exposed me to the application of psychodynamic therapy combined with partnered dance movement as an intervention. Through this process I have observed the power of dance as an adjunctive therapy for those interested in enhancing personal growth.

My experience as a professional dancer and coach combined with my current working interest in psychotherapy (individual and couple), performance psychology and both the physiological and emotional aspects of dance, is my motivation to be part of Dance-Intelligence.

The John Hamman School of Ballroom Dance website.

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