American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 41–62 | Cite as

Aesthetics of Hyperactivity: A Study of the Role of Expressive Movement in ADHD and Capoeira

  • Kasper LevinEmail author


In the established classification of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity are primarily interpreted as neurodevelopmental disorders connected to a set of behavioral symptoms or traits. In this construction, behaviors or actions are understood in terms of a fundamental dualism between the acting body and the regulating or executing mind, which expresses a representational model of the mind. As an effort to challenge the representational description, this article addresses the expressive aspects of movement and behavior in ADHD. Based on a qualitative study combining ethnographic and phenomenological methods, the article focuses on a relationship between aesthetic or expressive bodily movement and behavioral awareness in children diagnosed with ADHD, and draws on the experimental and expressive aesthetics of capoeira to propose a rethinking of the role of movement in ADHD behavior. Capoeira’s perpetual movement is shown to transform the general traits of hyperactivity into a medium for expression and experimentation. When practiced by diagnosed children, capoeira helped them to gain expressive release, rather than to feel imprisoned, victimized, or even categorized by the hyperactive events that happen to them. Capoeira thus seems to afford a therapeutic potential for change immanent to the hyperactive movements associated with ADHD.


ADHD Aesthetics Capoera Deleuze Expressive movement Phenomenology 


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Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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