Creative Arts Therapies Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Art in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling (MA)


Creative Arts Therapies

First Advisor

Susan Imus

Second Advisor

Laura Downey

Third Advisor

Rena Kornblum


adolescents, communication, leadership


The problem addressed in this study is the need for Latina adolescents to develop effective communication and leadership skills that will support their success in U.S. culture and society. This thesis is a case study of two Mexican-American adolescents who participated in a twelve-session leadership program at a dance studio. The goal of the study was to test the effectiveness of Rena Kornblum’s (2002) Disarming the Playground curriculum as a social skills program to improve leadership, effective communication skills, and group cohesion. This study included video footage of the adolescents engaging in movement-based role-play scenarios, which was examined using qualitative and quantitative research methods. A certified movement analyst was hired to study the adolescent’s movement patterns based on Laban Movement Analysis. The movement parameters examined in the analysis included Effort, Shape, Space, and breath support. The results of the study showed one adolescent displaying a decrease in aggressive behavior verbally and nonverbally. The other adolescent showed minimal changes in movement quality. The results also highlighted how language barriers and Latina cultural scripts affect the communication process.