Dance Therapy in Montreal

The first initiative of its kind to be developed and launched by a performing arts company, the National Centre for Dance Therapy was launched at a press conference held at the Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal studios on April 23, 2013.

Well-being through dance and movement

« Dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual. »

American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA)

Dance therapy is used either alone or together with psychotherapy and certain medical treatments. It can also be used in therapeutic programs focusing on growth, well-being and the development of creativity. More than traditional forms of exercise, dance therapy helps people who have become isolated because of illness to socialize and express themselves. It also boosts the individual’s physical and cognitive capacities. Dance therapy first emerged in the United States in the 1940s, and pioneers have developed various methods based on a range of approaches to body movement. The founding of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) in 1966 allowed dance and movement therapists to obtain professional recognition.

A complement to medical care and a preventive measure

« Dancing may offer benefits beyond other types of exercise, including socialization for people otherwise isolated by their disease. » Dr. Daniel Tarsy

Director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, Boston

Dance therapy can be particularly beneficial as a complementary treatment for a wide range of health problems, including those affecting children, teenagers and the elderly. Scientific literature has shown that it can be effective in treating such serious health problems as the following:


  • Mental health issues
  • Neurological problems
  • Psychological disorders
  • Muscular disorders
  • Aging-related illnesses
  • Pain

The National Centre for Dance Therapy’s integrated approach

« Creativity is strategically significant in today’s economy because it is a source of innovation. Creativity, innovation, education and research are today’s core drivers of development. Creative energy is vital to every sector of society. »

Québec government, Agenda 21

The National Centre for Dance Therapy is the only one of its kind in the world, providing three interconnected services: dance and movement therapy, clinical research, and participation in developing Canada’s first graduate-level training program in dance therapy. To ensure high-quality services and results, the Centre’s dance and movement therapy training, practices and information sources will be incorporated into a comprehensive program in conjunction with partners from the health and academic sectors. These partnerships will also enable the Centre to conduct clinical research. While the benefits of dance/movement therapy have become increasingly documented, the data is often qualitative and few quantitative studies have been conducted. The Centre aims to fill this gap by compiling as much conclusive data on the treatment and prevention of health problems as possible. This project is in keeping with the Quebec government’s Agenda 21 for Culture, which promotes cultural diversity as an essential element in transforming urban and social realities and is based on the conviction that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

The first dance therapy training program

« By bringing together a variety of experts and leaders in their fields, the National Centre for Dance Therapy will allow Les Grands Ballets Canadiens to take on an important socio-economic role in addition to its cultural role. » Christian Sénéchal

Director, National Centre for Dance Therapy

At present, there is no university training program in Canada specializing in dance and movement therapy. Canadian students wishing to pursue a career in this field must go to the United States for graduate-level training at one of the six universities offering the program, or complete a Master’s degree in a related field in Canada and then pursue additional training in the U.S. to obtain recognition from the ADTA. Thanks to a partnership with the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center in New York City, the Centre was able to welcome its first group of dance and movement therapy students in 2013. This training program is designed for dance and health professionals already holding graduate degrees. Several Canadian universities have expressed an interest in developing a graduate program in cooperation with the Centre. Employment possibilities for graduates include positions at the Centre itself, hospital centres and other healthcare facilities in Quebec and the rest of the country. In creating this inaugural training program, the Centre will be setting the standards of quality and uniformity for therapists’ training in addition to providing new employment opportunities to professional dancers at the end of their career.

Learn more about Les Grands Ballets’ NCDT



  • Elise Charbonneau
  • Director, Espace danse Campaign
  • Director, Fundraising and Events, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal
  • 514 849-8681

Launched in 2013 in the studios of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, dance therapy has helped thousands of people in their medical treatment or psychotherapy. How does it contribute to the personal health of individuals who dance? The dance therapy and movement acts as a supplement in the treatment of disorders, such as mental health, neurological or psychological disorders.
In fact, it can even be the main therapy for these people. Indeed, it will take not only isolated people to socialize more, but also to improve their physical and cognitive abilities. Therefore, their well-being goes through therapy through dance and movement.
Decreased symptoms of depression and relief of fibromyalgia are just some of the beneficial factors of dance therapy. It also helps to reduce anxiety. In short, it helps people to awaken their energy, vitality and sensuality that has decreased over time.
It’s self-expression and emotions, and the rediscovery of the body and pleasure.
This initiative, unique in Montreal, moved into the Espace Danse of the Wilder Building, in the center of the Quartier des spectacles. Everyone, without exception, may enjoy the benefits of this practice.
You wish to encourage dance therapy? Help us fund the program and Espace Danse of the Wilder Building by participating in our fundraising campaign. By grouping all dance organizations in the same building at the Quartier des spectacles, students will have more support.
The fundraising will also directly help various academic and clinical research about dance therapy. You should know that there is currently no training of this type in Canada. By helping us financially, we can also train new therapists by developing a graduate program in dance therapy.
Help the people of Montreal to regain not only their health but also their taste for life. Develop your self-esteem by the movement, rhythm and music. Trust our ballet or contemporary dance workshops to comfort you in your journey.