Massage Therapy & Healing Blog


Exactly what Partner Dancing & Massage Therapy Share.

One evening this spring, after a night of ballroom dancing, I glanced in on a West Coast Swing convention that was being held in Medford. I was blown away by the energetic, imaginative, and spirited way I saw couples dancing. Despite the fact that I knew nothing about West Coast Swing, I was so inspired that I invested the whole next day at the conference, discovering and taking in as much as a I was able by viewing the classes and open dances.


There was an incredible couple that taught a course on the art of leading. The man talked about how he connect to dancing, of how he saw it as an exploration. He would begin with easier steps and find exactly what the woman did well naturally. He ‘d discover what came with ease for her, then, bit by bit, he would build on her strengths. Unlike lots of leaders, he didn’t wish to have an agenda of his stephs with his follower, particularly if she was having difficulties or was a new dancer. He supported the follower’s strengths and introduced more and more his leading imagination to make an incredible dance experience for both individuals.

I liked the his relationship to dancing. It reminded me a great deal of the way that I relate to massage. When I start to discover person’s body, I am searching for the ways that their body can relax with ease. On the outside, it looks like I am leading the massage, however much like a skilled dancing partner, inside I am paying attention to the underlying guidance of the body and how it wants to be massage. Similar to in dancing, excellent bodywork is a constant discussion between massage therapist and massage receiver.


I make suggestions with touch and their body replies. If a part of the body reacts well to a particular way of touching, I can build on that quality of touch to discover other tensions patterns who may respond well. If client’s system does not respond to a technique, I do not keep attempting a massage technique simply due to the fact that it has actually been effective with other individuals. I recognize that each body is unique and has it’s own special preferences for releasing stress. It is my task as the massage ‘leader’ to discover the best ways to ‘dance’ with every body I massage with ease.

Similar to the remarkable dance teacher from this dance convention, I likewise find my massage therapy sessions to be more gratifying when I am paying attention to and building on the strengths of my massage receivers. From my experience, it is also more pleasurable for my massage therapy clients.

Stephanie Shrum is a licensed massage therapist in Ashaland, OR and presents Massage Continuing Education


  1. Melissa
    April 5, 2016 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Interesting post Stephanie! I would never of thought to relate dancing and massage! We are the massage artists and our clients are our clay. That’s the way I like to think of it lol! 🙂

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