Partly because the "E" in my CARVE Disputes Model stands for "emergence," I was drawn to this article about an improvisational dance professor cum mediator. Plus, the article once again reminded me of how constrained we are in the way we conceptualize and practice mediation. I continue to hope that this century will see us leaping out of that narrowness and incorporating helpful tools from many arts and sciences, perhaps even including body movement. After reading about Susan Sgorbati, maybe you will join me in that hope?
From "Professor to showcase 'emergent improvisation' at EMPAC" (Times Union):
What do flocks of birds, schools of fish, neurons in the brain and dancers improvising movement have in common? According to Bennington College professor Susan Sgorbati, they are all functioning according to similar principles of self-organization, creating sense and order out of what might have been chaos.
"The improvisation work was always very important to me, because it had a connection to real life and to relationships," she said. "When I started talking with the scientists and realized this organic structuring was everywhere in nature, I started seeing everything differently."
As an experienced mediator (she developed Bennington's conflict resolution curriculum and supervises a mediation clinic for Bennington County in Vermont), Sgorbati was equipped to recognize the parallels between the way dancers move together and the way people in conflict move over time toward a mutually agreeable solution. That realization has led her to question whether emergent improvisation principles, coupled with the essential ingredient of empathy, could be somehow employed to help humans work out their differences, in the political, social and environmental arenas.
A couple of previous posts about art and mediation:
- Using the arts in conflict resolution: Some more pieces of the puzzle?
- Professional Artistry of Mediation: Accessing more of your brain and the knowledge of your body
- Images can help you paint a bright resolution to conflict
- Play what you know and then play above that: The role of improvisation in mediation
- Conflict resolution through artistry: Music, painting, and shadow puppets
Image credit: EMPAC.