Profile of a Dance/Movement Therapist: Dr. Charné Furcron

Integrating Dance/Movement Therapy Training and Educational Prowess

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Photo by Dana Lupton

Dance found Charné Furcron early on, wrapping her up and gently healing her spirit. Struggling in a difficult childhood, her interest in dance was peaked by an episode of “Soul Train.” Her mom enrolled her in her first ballet class and, as Charné danced, she grew into the fullness of herself, feeling safe and at home in the movement and music. With healing dance as a foundation, Charné has engineered a life full of artistry, performance, teaching, therapy, and transformation for herself and the many others she has worked with.

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Her childhood experiences led her to the arts, mental health, and into the field of dance/movement therapy. Charné’s depth of education and subsequent certifications are many. She holds a BFA in Modern Dance from Texas Christian University, two Master’s Degrees – one in Dance Therapy from Goucher College and the other in Professional Counseling from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology, and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University. In addition to her education, she also holds multiple certifications and licenses in counseling, dance/movement therapy, supervision, and coaching.

Throughout her career, Charné has always been guided by her relationship with dance. From psychiatric hospitals to detention centers, residential rehabilitation centers to private practice, Charné creates client interactions and designs programs by following her inner wisdom and expertise in healing dance. Her current and most recent endeavor as the Teacher Training Artist and Director of Outreach at Moving in the Spirit, in Atlanta, GA, began while she was nurturing a performing career and working as a dance/movement therapist in a mental health hospital. As these roles and positions came to an end, her work as a dance teacher and therapist at Moving in the Spirit grew.

The organization is one that “utilizes dance as a creative tool to enrich the lives of children living in Atlanta’s most challenged communities. Their goal is to help young people develop their confidence and leadership skills, encouraging them to overcome the challenges they face each day and realize the full potential of their lives.” Charné has been instrumental in using her wide range of skills and knowledge to create a program she is able to assess and evaluate, using research-based methods to demonstrate its impact.

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As a teacher, Charné integrates her dance/movement therapy training with her educational prowess. Her classes are more than dance classes, as she leads 3 to 19 year olds through an experience of both technique and therapy. “I believe that education is best when it is responsive, creative, and experimental . . . [thus] my teaching style is individualized to fit the needs of each class.” Though Charné shifts her teaching to accommodate all who participate, her classes follow a broad five part structure. Each class begins with a check-in designed to give dancers an opportunity to speak about how they are feeling. After check-in, they engage in a technical warm-up based on elements of ballet and modern dance. Theme development follows the warm-up, as students are encouraged to explore, learn, and create movement phrases addressing personal and societal issues. After this exploration, they process and reflect, connecting their movement experience with verbal language. At the end of every class, students give each other “sunshine,” sharing the gifts they have received from each other. From this overarching structure, it is clear that Charné blends her wisdom as a dance/movement therapist with her skill as a modern dance teacher to shape classes that “stimulate the heart, mind, soul and spirit of students. . .”

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Her role as a researcher is slightly different; though rooted in her desire to empower each student with dance, her overall intention is to collect, measure, and analyze data to demonstrate the program’s impacts. Charné uses a variety of statistical measures to assess the program. Her research has yielded positive indicators. “The evaluation results display the longer a student is in the program, the higher their self-confidence/self-concept (is) . . . Therefore, dancers are [better] equipped to problem solve and become successful in life.” In addition, many students go on to graduate high school, attend college or vocational school, and some even return to Moving in the Spirit to volunteer or sit on the board.

It began with a childhood ballet class. The deeply forged relationship with dance is evolving, connecting the heart and soul of Charné to the hearts and souls of many. Her career encompasses such width and depth, as she has danced with and for herself first, and then, with and for others. Today, Charné gracefully embodies her roles as program architect, dancer, dance/movement therapist, dance teacher, and researcher as she witnesses the resiliency of youth as they transform their challenges and become strong, compassionate leaders.

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