The Healing Power of Movement

May 25, 2015 @ 10:08am

Five years after Federico Bitti was diagnosed with focal dystonia—a movement disorder that stole his brain’s ability to control his body’s motions, caused tremors, and made the simplest movements, like drinking from a glass, impossible—he met with Dr. Joaquin Farias. Dr. Farias, who holds a doctorate in biomechanics and master’s degrees in neuropsychological rehabilitation, psychosociology and ergonomics, was “retraining” dystonia patients on the principle that the brain can be helped to remember how to perform motions even after it forgets them. The training involved Bitti developing a new awareness for his body’s movements.

It also involved Madonna.

Bitti discovered that retraining his brain through his body was easiest in the rehabilitative form of dancing: “My brain was refusing to let my body perform some movements, and I had to work to retrain it, to pay closer attention, to feel without thinking.”

Bitti’s experience in rehabilitating with focal dystonia is perfectly aligned with Holistic Circus Therapy’s foundational understanding that circus, like dance, provides the opportunity for people to heal their bodies and brains in tandem. Circus, specifically, provides an immeasurable amount of choice in rehearsing motor patterns, and promoting social and emotional capacity though collaboration with others. Even when there is no “cure” for disorders like focal dystonia, there is always hope.

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