Providing Dance/Movement Therapy sessions for cancer patients and survivors.

A fundraising campaign for Kern Dance Alliance


KDA and Adventist Health Bakersfield AIS Cancer Center are pleased to announce HealingMOTION, a Dance/Movement Therapy collaboration for cancer patients.  

HealingMOTION is a FREE 8-week program that uses Dance/Movement Therapy as a mode of healing and creative expression for individuals with various stages of cancer. Through both functional and creative improvisational movement, HealingMOTION will allow patients to find physical and emotional respite from the difficult effects of cancer, and will create a safe and therapeutic environment in which they can freely express themselves


Elena grew up in California and started dancing at the age of 5. She received her BA in Dance from UC Irvine, and went on to receive her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. She has used her experience as a Dance/Movement Therapist in a number of inpatient and outpatient hospital settings and care facilities, working with people from a diversity of backgrounds and age-groups.  She loves building community through movement, and facilitating spaces where movement can foster the physical, emotional and mental integration of the individual. 


Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) offers many benefits for individuals experiencing the effects of Cancer and Cancer treatment, and is commonly utilized with populations battling chronic emotional and physical pain.The purpose of this program will be to improve quality of life and manage physical pain through use of Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) techniques and strategies. In our groups, we will identify both emotional and physical stressors, and strive to mitigate these stressors by fostering a more complete and holistic understanding of the mind/body connection. DMT techniques and strategies may include, but are not limited to: Body Mapping (the practice of identifying the physical and emotional associations you carry in each body part), guided meditation, improvisational movement, verbal processing, movement processing (the practice of addressing emotional issues through improvisational movement), performance as therapy (creating choreography or other artistic expression that can be performed), use of props, etc. 

DMT has the ability to ameliorate feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness that may occur during cancer treatment, and can help patients experience heightened mind/body connection and awareness of how their treatment affects their mind and body.  This 7 week program aims to utilize DMT as a modality to support all of the above-mentioned goals, and to offer clients, staff and caregivers alike a glimpse into the transformative power of movement. 


All HealingMOTION groups will take place at the AIS facility in a pre-designated group room. Groups generally take place in a circle, with participants facing each other to facilitate sharing and group cohesion. Patients may also stand up to move and dance as their range of motion allows.

10 minutes: check in and body part warm-up

The therapist uses this time to observe each participant’s movement patterns and affect, and may do movement and verbal check-ins, such as asking participants to offer an opening movement or share one word about their current mood. Clients improvisationally warm up every part of their body. The Dance/Movement Therapist may encourage clients to stretch, make eye contact, or increase range of motion during the warm-up.

20-30 minutes: movement and thematic development

This forms the majority of the session, and is used to address specific goals of the session through movement. The therapist may utilize a number of DMT modalities to support the group’s goals (mentioned above.) 

5-10 minutes: cool down and closing

The therapist will facilitate a body cool-down and closing, that will include breath-work and consciously slowing down movements to bring the group to a natural close. Movement and verbal cues may also be used, such as asking each participant to share a closing movement or positive word.  


  • Increased quality of life/joyfulness
  • Functional mobility and increased range of motion
  • Mind/body connection
  • Relief from depression and anxiety/increased joy and happiness
  • Pain Management/Reduction: Techniques such as Tai Chi, Reiki, etc. 

**All sessions will support all of the above goals, although specific sessions may focus more on one particular goal. 


HealingMOTION is made possible by generous donations from our community. You can support HealingMOTION by becoming a donor:

$100 affords HealingMOTION props and materials

$500 affords HealingMOTION program supplies

$2000 affords HealingMOTION administrative costs

$4000 affords an HealingMOTION session

Share this Campaign!

About the Organization

Kern Dance Alliance is a nonprofit dance advocacy organization supporting and promoting dance + the arts in Kern County, Ca.