Dianne Dulicai’s career path is the epitome of serendipitous magic arising from passion, preparation, inquisitiveness, and a willingness to take risks. Much has been written about and by her, including interviews, articles, research, and lectures published worldwide. Dianne has generously shared the wisdom garnered from her own dance/movement therapy (DMT) wayfaring. At a time when career longevity is on the minds of many and, in a field which integrates creativity and scientifically-supported knowledge, the telling of her journey carries special weight. Dianne’s passion for continual learning, her belief in the biological basis of DMT, and the importance she ascribes to ongoing mentorship, networking, and connection are all relevant.
Dianne was introduced to DMT in the early 60’s, as it was growing into a budding and newly established field. Armed with personal experiences of dance as healing, a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, and an interest in human interaction, Dianne took advantage of the opportunities that arose. While teaching hearing impaired children in Dallas, Texas, word of her work traveled to Washington DC where pioneering dance/movement therapists invited Dianne to visit. While there, she met with Marian Chace and the auspicious foray into DMT blossomed into the beginning of a long and fruitful career.
Dianne officially entered the DMT profession in 1971. After moving to New York, she began studying with Irmgard Bartenieff. An internship with Elissa White led to her first job at Bronx State Hospital where she worked as a dance/movement therapist with psychiatric populations.
Dianne next moved to Philadelphia, at the request of Dr. Israel Zwerling – the medical director at Bronx State, to develop the DMT graduate program at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital (now Drexel University). She describes her experience as an evolution of synchronicity, rather than one guided by pre-existing goals and aspirations. In each situation, Dianne came into contact with colleagues, friends, and mentors, creating partnerships that opened doors.
While at Hahnemann, Marion North asked her to go to London to help develop a DMT program. Dianne went, working there for four years. She refined her skills as a movement analyst and notator, dove into research, and created movement assessments for family therapy, and more. In addition to her work, Dianne served as the American Dance Therapy Association’s (ADTA) president and vice president and received the ADTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She remains active in the field by teaching family DMT, working on thesis committees, providing movement assessments as a consultant, and occasionally treating families privately.
Her inherent inquisitiveness and quest for knowledge is evident. “I am sure what we do affects the brain. All of my career, I have been interested in learning and research.” Believing in the scientific basis for DMT, Dianne pursued a Ph.D in Developmental Neuroscience in 1990. “Part of the way I stayed alive was continual learning . . . for me, being involved in learning . . . always led to exciting new adventures.” That continual learning involves academic pursuits and learning from those around her. Her curiosity unearthed new possibilities. Her ability to find the learning opportunity in all situations helped her stay energized and motivated, to create and find prospects, to avoid burnout, and to carve out a rewarding career.
Her advice for those considering a career in DMT and/or those newly entering the field? Anyone interested in this profession needs to have “a combination of dance background and an interest in psychological theories.” Dianne suggests they visit regional meetings and chapter presentations. “Watch and listen, see if you fit in.”
To those already in the field, she recommends connection. “Connect yourself with someone who you would like to supervise your work, so you don’t feel so disconnected. Keep learning so you are able to be strategic in the setting your are in.”
Dianne stresses the importance of research and keeping up to date with the literature. As clinicians and creators, dance movement therapists often have to create job opportunities; the ability to speak about current research, quote studies, and show how DMT is supported by neuroscience is important. “This isn’t always easy to do when you’re working and have a life. But . . . I think it is really important.”
In her 2004 Marian Chace Foundation lecture, she spoke about the importance of ongoing mentorship. According to Dianne, the success of our field and the forward moving longevity requires our intentional linkage. “We are interdependent, and the future of our profession depends on the success of our interdependency.”
Inspirational in her ability to spin her passion, knowledge, and inquisitive nature into a fulfilling and lengthy career, Dianne’s wisdom is pertinent to everyone at any stage of their DMT career.