Dancing In The Storm

Adam and Gail Baranello
Independent/Courtesy Adam and Gail Baranello

If you’re having trouble dealing with any kind of loss, that of a loved person, pet, job — even a part of your own identity — there is something you can do about it free of charge at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital for the next five Friday afternoons. That’s when Gail Baranello of A & G Dance Company will be offering the pilot program of her “Moving Through Loss” workshop, which is sponsored by Artful Home Care.

Each installment of the class invites participants to get both bodies and minds in touch with a different part of the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross model’s five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — by associating each emotion with both action and discussion for moving through the grieving process in a healthy way.

“Dance has given me such an outlet for dealing with all kinds of emotional traumas,” Baranello said. Her studies in psychology and dance at the Stony Brook Center for Somatic Movement, and a life-long penchant for using movement to process feelings, led to developing a program for others to do the same. “I’ve been wanting to get back into using dance as a tool.”

All attendees will receive a copy of a workbook to guide the process, which asks the reader to identify key emotions associated with each stage of grief and then provides suggested movements that will help express that emotion. A word box provides examples of such feelings to make the process easier and once a few are identified, attendees can practice movement patterns to express their internal dialogue.

The workbooks are peppered with original artwork by Baranello’s husband, Adam, who represents the other half of A & G Dance Company. “The vocabulary associated with the movements will inherently change based on the stage of grief we’re focusing on that week, but the structure of all classes — except for week three when we focus on bargaining — will remain the same, because I want to get people to get comfortable with that structure,” she said.

The bargaining section of the program includes a special focus on “self-soothing,” so attendees will be invited to bring a prop like a crossword puzzle, book, or game to practice ways for calming the mind without the support of others.

“Once in the bargaining stage, you might start to feel disconnected from others anyway,” she explained. “We owe it to ourselves, as a friend of mine said, to not indulge in the urges of instant gratification.”

“I believe strongly in what Gail wants to do,” said Beth McNeill-Muhs of the creative Southampton-based home care company responsible for providing this inaugural class, gratis, this spring. “It’s in line with the mission of Artful Home Care and if it’s something we can help to sponsor, we want to be a part of it. Music is an incredible tool.”

The movement healing workshop will be held on Fridays March 22 through April 19 from 3 to 4:30 PM at the Ed & Phyllis Wellness Institute, located on the third floor of the hospital.

Less than 10 spots remain available for the free class. Sign up by calling 631-259-6472. Learn more at www.artfulhomecare.net.

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