top of page

Download the PDF to print and sign : 

This Charter governs the work ethic, commitment, and contribution of all professionals involved in Dance Rhythm Therapy (DRT), which is dance therapy through primitive expression.


Its objective is to translate the fundamental principles that underlie dance-rhythm-therapy (DRT), that govern the practice of facilitators and dance-rhythm-therapists, as well as the meaning of the practices that it proposes and contributes to develop.


Any project to create a DRT association that wishes to join DRT- International must commit to respecting its charter


Any association or certified practitioner who promotes and develops Rhythm Dance Therapy must adhere to, respect, and never betray the principles set forth below in the DRT International Charter.

By signing this charter, he or she makes a moral commitment to respect its orientations and strives not to betray its spirit.


This charter is based on the foundations of Dance-Rhythm-Therapy, which integrates the therapeutic effectiveness of the rhythmic-singing-dancing practices of oral cultures. Since ancient times, these practices have treated the body and mind by relying on the vibratory nature of human beings, which makes them particularly sensitive to rhythm. This affinity is the basis of a transformation process whose elements are the following : 

- the vibratory state of the subject, triggered from the outside, from otherness: it is the listening of the music or the song, and/or the look on the other who moves, which will generate the sensitive reaction and the energy;

- the support of the movement on the natural and regular rhythm of the cadence, prolongation of the beat of the heart

of the heart or of walking;

- the globality of a rhythmic approach that addresses all levels of the human being

(physical, social, psychic, cognitive and spiritual),

- the importance given to what is shared, common, universal,

- the state of the dancer, transported in a second state, an enlarged consciousness, a ritualized trance, modulated, which excludes neither order nor measure because it respects the harmonious proportionality of the dance.


These elements, revisited, updated and completed by modern scientific knowledge, are taken up again in a dance technique called "primitive expression" based on "primitive" rhythms, repetitive, played with percussion. On these rhythms are executed the "first" step of the dance, the walk ; "first" gestures coupled, repetitive, contrasted: they evoke a "first world"; they are accompanied by a "first song", made up of phonemes, which are not the same as the "first".

first", constituted of asemantic phonemes. The primitive expression thus renews with

"The primitive expression thus revives a language lost in the West, recalling that in the beginning was the rhythmic action, played and danced  » Add: vocalized and vigorous. It was created by a Haitian dancer-choreographer, Herns Duplan, who brought it to Paris in the 1970s. His preoccupation was that of the universal gesture, represented by archetypes, figurative gestures representing, in the form of animals, ancestral trades, evocative gestures, the great forces of nature and the human psyche.

Joyful, convivial, playful, primitive expression is the artistic mediation of dance- rhythm-therapists, but also of animators, because they are more and more often called upon to work in the fields of pedagogy, social links, prevention, or the development of cognitive capacities.


- All professionals are therefore committed to:

1. Place rhythm at the center of their action, in listening, singing and dancing. Rhythm is both energy and structure: it generates an energy that pushes the body receiving the pulse into movement, and it structures the movement into an ordered gesture, translating the invisible music into visible form.

The first rhythm is particularly perceptible in the percussion of the drum, but it is also felt in other forms of oral culture: nursery rhymes, lullabies, old songs, particularly appreciated by the elderly, or even dance music with a marked rhythm, in tune with today's sensibility: African, popular, traditional or modern dances (rock, jazz, hip-hop...) ;


2. To build a global device proposing to the participants an activity which offers them at the same time a sport and art (music with a catchy rhythm, song pleasant to the ear, non verbal theater which expresses itself by body signs, and dance which organizes them).

The tools of dance-rhythm-therapy are :

- those of oral culture: rhythm, repetition, play, ritual, hypnosis, imitation, synchronous choral device, symbolic gesture, common movement, joy, trance,

  • those added by primitive expression: a ritual with ecological symbolism that mobilizes mimetic capacities, and rhythmic relational games that solicit improvisation while framing it.


3. Mobilize the energy and structure of rhythm to work at multiple levels: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive (a common task for facilitators and dance therapists).

- at the level of the body, the rhythm awakens vital energy, activates the functions of the organs and stimulates the immune system, which prevents illnesses; it draws the different parts and organs of the body into the same rhythm and synchronizes them, thus unifying it;

- at the emotional level, rhythmic movement awakens the feeling of existence; it allows the evacuation of tensions, liberates emotions, while regulating their expression, which prevents them from being toxic because they are too invasive. When shared with others, rhythm brings joy, conviviality and enthusiasm,

- at the social level, the rhythmic and emotional harmony with the other and with the group gives back to the dance its traditional functions of social link and belonging to the group; the dancer makes the experience of equality, solidarity and fraternity which frees him from the spirit of competition and from the narcissistic need to be singular; he discovers the happiness of the balanced relation with the other at the "good distance", the one where he is neither merged nor isolated.

- at the cognitive level, the sung-danced gesture allows to maintain, develop or restore visual-spatial orientation, attention, concentration, memory, reasoning...


4. To ensure that a playful and reassuring climate is established during the sessions, avoiding a spirit of seriousness that weighs people down, valuing humor that de-dramatizes, stimulating the imagination with symbolic gestures, encouraging the participants without ever forcing them, avoiding attitudes of seduction-flattery as well as those of judgment, because dance therapy is not a "dance class ».


5. To maintain with colleagues a benevolent and confraternal relationship, a permanent dialogue in mutual respect of differences, allowing a mutual enrichment of their practices.


Dance Rhythm Therapists further commit to:

6. Never forget that dance-rhythm-therapy is not a verbalizing and/or interpretative psychotherapy, but an art-therapy that addresses, through art, something greater than oneself, that signals through regularity, order and beauty, and that is in line with the ancestral devices of oral culture used by mothers to lead the child to humanization, and then relayed in traditional festive practices intended for all generations, to reinforce or restore the physical and psychic equilibrium of each person.

The device that he will have to build to open up a therapeutic process will therefore be documented by psychological (child development and psychopathology) and anthropological (diachronic and synchronous study of traditional therapeutic practices) knowledge.


7. To construct a therapeutic process that does not reject art in favor of spontaneity, but unites them by integrating action-gestures in the artistic rules of primitivist aesthetics under the aegis of rhythm that acts as a third party between the therapist and the patients. DRT is a regulated game of symbols that address something greater than oneself, an otherness that the dancer repeatedly calls upon and that manifests itself by putting him or her into a trance.


8. Maintain the framework that allows the trance not to spill over into hysteria but to remain ritualized, controlled. The DRT is a regulated set of symbols put into action that modify the dancer's state of consciousness (trance) and open him or her to the unconscious. Then, they transform and reorganize the subject by the mechanism of the symbolic effectiveness, by acting not by verbalization but by the direction.


9 . To accompany the patient by relying on the way in which the child is led by the mother, through thousand-year-old oral practices (songs, rhythmic games, games of alternation...), to socialization, individuation, to the control of impulses and to the symbolic function. Never, in the case of adults, copy these practices to propose them as they are and in a childish way, but take up the structures, which are universal, in an adult and artistic way.


10. To associate anthropology with psychology in order to find, under the diversity of traditional ritualized and festive practices, the universal structures used by all the cultures of the world to socialize and heal individuals.


11. To develop intercultural and interdisciplinary research on songs and dances of the oral heritage, one's own and that of the patients (especially in the field of interculturality and emigration) without ever appropriating their own, but to adapt the therapeutic proposal to their social and cultural context. Dance-rhythm-therapy is practiced in different parts of the world, and must constantly respect and value cultural diversity while emphasizing the universality of structures.


12. To have a therapeutic attitude, which requires :

- to mediate the therapeutic relationship through the third party that is rhythm and dance, which prevents the dual relationship.

- to adopt a benevolent neutrality, a lucid and encouraging look at the patient's evolution

of the patient, not flattering or bullying,

- not to privilege the patient's progress in dance, but those that improve his relationship with others and his life

to manage the patient's transference (on the basis of the patient's own experience), to develop the patient's self-confidence, to develop a creative imagination that finds meaning in the experience of the therapeutic process, and a measured behavior, the "nothing too much" of the Greek wisdom and of the oral societies, the "third way" of the Eastern countries;

  • to manage the transference of the patient (on oneself and on the dance), and to identify one's own counter-transference, which implies continuing to work on oneself, and to be periodically supervised individually, in a group or in a training course, by an experienced dance-rhythm-therapist.

bottom of page