Profile of a Dance/Movement Therapist: Marie King-Linares

Sharing a Passion for Dance through Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance was deeply rooted in everyday life for Marie King-Linares. Even as she grew up in South Carolina amidst the change and turbulence of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, she was surrounded by movers and a culture who celebrated the freedom to dance. Her mother, a woman Marie attributes the ability of utilizing dance as a means to build community and connection, greatly influenced her own love of dance, as Marie too has dedicated much of her life to sharing her passion for dance with every community she is surrounded by.

Marie was attracted to the stage early and dance quickly became her primary means of expression.  She valued her mother’s unique capacity to draw out an individual’s movement qualities and accentuate their strengths through the choreography she created.  This ability to attune to another’s movement and highlight their best elements was a characteristic Marie would always carry with her.

She was first exposed to the use of dance with people with disabilities through a program called Outlook Nashville.  It was during this experience she heard her mother share for the first time, “My handicap is my color. People see my color before they see me.” This perception of herself was new, but served as fuel for her future endeavors.

Equipped with these experiences and her passion for dance, Marie went off to college in New Orleans. Inspired by the notion of “multi-arts therapy” and “dance therapy,” she pieced together a degree filled with psychology and dance courses. Seeking to further expand her repertoire, she wrote a letter to Dance Theater Harlem in New York and was granted a scholarship from Arthur Mitchell.

During this transition to New York, Marie attended an American Dance Therapy Association conference and serendipitously met Miriam Berger. Miriam connected Marie with a position at Bronx State Psychiatric Center, where she had the opportunity to work amongst other outstanding dance/movement therapists, including Glorianne Jackson and Elissa White.

Marie pictured here (first row, left with print skirt) with Bronx Psychiatric Dance Therapy staff in 1979. Dr. Miriam Roskin Berger is in the upper right back row with glasses. Other include (3rd from left) Remy Gay, Dr. James Murphy, Lucille Ormay, Hector Munoz and
Bonnie Eggena (standing)

Marie was vehement about the work she was doing but knew she had to choose between dance performance or further education. Once her hesitations were resolved, she pursued a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy (DMT) at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital (now Drexel University). Marie recalls that during this time – she ate, slept, and breathed DMT as she worked tirelessly to expose this modality for the power and beauty it was to her.

While Marie was completing her thesis, she experienced the loss of her mother, forcing her to take a leave of absence and focus her energies on healing herself and her family. Time away from her program offered her a much needed reprieve from the intensity of the work and a new appreciation for the need for self-care. To this day, Marie’s advice for those working in the field and/or those who are curious about pursuing a career in DMT is to prioritize one’s own health in order to best serve others. “As a [dance/movement therapist] your body becomes your therapeutic tool, thus, it is impossible to hide from the impact that life’s challenges has on you, your body, and others.”

Marie’s next adventure included a marriage, a child, and a transformational move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As she began to work her way back into DMT, she discovered a stark difference in how dance was perceived within her new community compared to the one she had grown up in. In this new place, Marie encountered people who believed dance was “extraneous” or “frivolous” movement.

Marie has also worked for Catholic Charities providing services for adolescents and families within a school-based treatment program. Compared to her earlier work where dance was innate for her and her clients, she must now find creative ways to weave dance into her sessions. This opportunity has given her greater appreciation for the subtleties of movement, while also greatly challenging her ideals of DMT.

Looking to the future, Marie emphasizes the importance of being able to translate DMT to others. Her natural language is movement, and she believes that the progression of DMT as a profession lies in our abilities to express in words what we as practitioners see and feel in our bodies.

© Darci Nelsen – Originally published for ADTA on February 28, 2016. 

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