The Festival of the Moving Body, held March 16 and 17 in the Wang Center, brought together over 100 people from all over the world and from different professions interested in the field of movement and its positive effects on the human body. From dance instructors to chiropractors, the festival aimed to allow professionals to engage and share their understandings of the importance of movement with each other and with the public.

Doctors, therapists and clinicians use movement as a form of therapy, and as a means of recovery and well-being. According to Dr. Sue DeLanerolle, a neurologist at Stony Brook, it can have beneficial impacts on diseases such as Parkinson’s. Movement is not only used in the medical field, but also as a means of expression and communication with people and nature.

The festival is the first of its kind, founded by Amy Yopp Sullivan, associate professor of dance and somatics at Stony Book University and Director of the Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning. It was sponsored by the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics, and a number of Stony Brook departments and offices. Lecturers and teachers held a total of 12 lectures and 30 workshops during the festival.

Sullivan explained that she was motivated to create the festival after observing students in her classes and researching movement initiatives in other disciplines, such as medicine and therapy.

“I wondered, what if we brought everybody together who are well-versed in doing this, but not necessarily from the same discipline,” she said. “After conferences the presenters usually just go home, but I figured if we have all this information here, why not distribute it to the public.”

Cynthia Stevens, a multidisciplinary instructor and ecologist, focused her lecture on the body and its place in nature, specifically in relation to the movement of water.

“What intrigues me is the connection between the body, the mind and the environment, and how they come together in a lot of different ways,” she said.

William Trevino used martial arts to explain the importance of using one’s center as a source of energy. “Energy is movement,” he said. The interactive workshop focused on the usage of the hips as the drive for martial arts and movement, and allowed attendees to distinguish between using the hips as a center instead of the joints.

“There are so many different approaches to working with the body and its so helpful to hear about it and to go to the workshops where you can participate and move around and have fun as well,” said Loraine Corfield, a videographer from Nyack, New York, who came out to attend the festival. “I’ve always had an interest in movement and dance, but never really explored it enough, and I think that’s how it is for our culture now.”

Music is another important aspect. “Rhythm comes through in the body,” Sullivan said. It is often used as a form of expression and what is associated with it is movement; they are intertwined.

“One of the greatest benefits of moving, is when something doesn’t move, it gets stuck,” she said. “And I think that what happens with people is that not only do you get stuck in your joints, your muscles, and your inner-connectedness to your body, but you get stuck in your mind.”

Sullivan said she hopes the festival will grow and develop each year that it is held, so that more and more people will understand the importance of movement and the joy it can bring to everyday life. “The bottom line is human value,” she said.