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American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 59–86 | Cite as

The Pioneering Work of Franziska Boas at Bellevue Hospital in New York, 1939–1943

  • Allana Lindgren
Article

Abstract

This article investigates Franziska Boas’s pioneering work as part of the arts program at Bellevue Hospital in New York. During late 1930s and early 1940s, a few modern dancers explored dance as a holistic practice. They believed that movement not only was a way to express emotional states, but that modifications in movement could initiate emotional healing. The profession of dance therapy, a subfield of arts therapy, resulted. Boas was one of the first dance practitioners to work in a hospital setting. She volunteered her services at Bellevue Hospital in New York from 1939 until 1943 as part of an arts program originally funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). At Bellevue, Boas worked closely with the internationally renowned child psychiatrist, Dr. Lauretta Bender, with whom Boas wrote some of the earliest scholarly treatises on the burgeoning field of dance therapy. Resistance to this early incarnation of dance therapy by many in the medical profession and the media illuminates 1930s and 1940s ideas about mental health, therapeutic interventions and child advocacy.

Key words

Franziska Boas Lauretta Bender Bellevue Hospital dance therapy dance history 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Preparation of this article was supported by a fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This article is based on a chapter from the author’s doctoral dissertation, which was completed at the University of Toronto. The author acknowledges Gertrud Michelson, Stephen Johnson, Selma Odom, Elspeth Brown, and Ted L. McDorman for their comments on drafts of this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TheatreUniversity of VictoriaStation CSC, VictoriaCanada

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