LEARN MORE ABOUT ME
Hi there! My name is Dani.
Who am I?
I am a coach, creative consultant & movement facilitator for embodied self expression, confidence, body positivity, and nervous system resiliency.
I facilitate & design playful, powerful & pleasurable spaces for transformation, connection & empowerment.
I work with brilliant & unique individuals, organisations & independent artists to create space for innovation & somatic self study.
I'm here to help you, your community or work place come back home to your body safely, easefully & joyfully.
My mission is to connect people to their embodied playful essence to live a fuller, freer life.
I do this by creating safe spaces for people to explore their edges, melt inhibitions, and reconnect to their mind, body and soul.
I work with psychotherapeutic techniques and mindfulness based practice such as; Focusing, authentic movement, conscious improvisation, breath work, voice release, somatic meditation and ritual as methods for processing lasting embodied change.
Education / Training
The Somatic School: ICF Accredited Coaching
Organic Intelligence for Coaches Training
Trauma Informed Facilitation with Bryony Beynon
East 15 Acting School: BA Acting; Somatic & embodiment work, animal studies, archetypal work and Jungian Psychology, contemporary dance, clown, Meisner technique
Alexander Technique 1:1: At Manchester School Of Theatre, 1yr
Tough Cookie Mental Resilience Training
The British Youth Filming Academy: 2 Years training: movement/embodiment & voice training & acting for screen
Jon Davis Clowning School London
Mick Barnfather, Comedy School
Teatr Pieśń Kozła / Song of the Goat Theatre Poland: voice and prose,biomechanics, classical acting training
Personal work: 15 years of professional training, teaching & performance within embodiment, movement & somatics.
How I got here...
As a process orientated Somatic Coach, I support my clients to listen to their present embodied experience. However, our past stories and trauma’s do of course play a big part in how we exist in our bodies and how we show up in the world. My past trauma and healing journey is ultimately what has led me to pursue this work and it informs the way I approach somatic coaching, play and embodied facilitation. That’s why it’s important to me that my clients get a sense of who I am through my story.
It's been an interesting challange to write and feel into what I want to share publicly, this is a montage of my story so far...
I have been on a lifelong journey of learning to love and accept the intricacies of my past, my trauma, and the reasons that I show up in the world the way I do. How I receive and interpret information, and ultimately how I view the world has never fit into the neuro-typically biased educational and societal systems. Throughout school I was always late or in trouble, my attention span was awful and making friends wasn’t easy - I moved school a lot for these reasons. It felt lonely and frustrating, and I never knew why I just ‘didn't get it’ when I felt I was really trying to. I did enjoy PE, swimming, music and art class the most. These were the classes that felt most freeing. The teachers felt kinder and more supportive.
I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 24. This brought up a mixture of relief and anger at the education system. It also helped me understand why traditional ways of learning never worked for me. Not knowing for so many years affected my confidence and self esteem but it also helped me to understand why I was so drawn to PE and the arts. They were ways to learn through my body and movement rather than in lectures or writing essays. I have come to embrace my alternative way of learning and viewing the world as a creative tool.
Following the feeling of freedom that the arts gave me, at 16 I left school and went to Stafford College to study contemporary performance art. It was freedom from traditional learning, freedom from my childhood trauma, freedom from not belonging anywhere.
When I started college I decided to introduce myself as Dani not Danielle. Danielle felt disempowering, lonely and cold. I didn’t have the words for it at the time but changing my name was a way of me taking back control and to rediscover myself. I loved college, however life at home was hard and caused me to act out in ways that I didn’t understand. I was hurting. My mum was a single working class parent with me and my older brother. My parents divorced when I was around 4 years old. My step dad left around the same time I started college and mum found herself in the grip of alcohol addiction. By the time I was 17 it had fully taken her over - she could no longer be the fun, loving, supportive parent we knew. She wasn’t available for us anymore. I didn’t feel comfortable or safe to share fully with my biological dad and step mum what was happening at the time, we didn't have the foundation of trust and connection for that to be available to me, and my step dad completely left the situation. My step dad was a good man, he was always there for us and then everything changed. I left home to live in a hostel in Lichfield and my brother found his own path.
I was in an overwhelming juxtaposition of being a young woman with deep wounds, without a grounding support system (bar my wonderful loving grandparents) who at the same time was exploring the intense self-enquiry and boundary exploration of the performing arts and being in a new city. On one hand, this turning point in my life amplified my insecurities and led me into a 18 year struggle with eating disorders and mental health issues. My earliest memory of body dysmorphia was 8 years old, this part of me grew so huge that I didn’t know life without my eating disorders. These habits became my place of safety to numb my body and escape the world.
On the other hand, at the same time I was introduced to incredible practitioners such as Isadora Duncan, Jacques Lecoq, Pina Bausch, Sanford Meisner, Lloyd Newson and more! I was in awe how they saw the world and for the first time I felt understood. Their approach is sensitive, wild, creative and raw! They taught me how our bodies share our history through the nonverbal world beyond the walls of our thinking minds. They taught me that I can share my story through feeling, intuition and improvisation and I was inspired to audition for drama school.
I was a playful kid but not naturally confident when on stage, I found it excruciatingly painful there. Despite this, something in me wanted to break the cycle of fear of being seen and being heard. Over the years I have been fortunate to train with Newhampton Arts Centre, British Youth Filming Academy, Rose Bruford Drama School, Contact Theatre Manchester, Song of The Goat Theatre Poland and later got accepted to East 15 Acting School in London, and continued to find inspiration, catharsis and growth on stage and in the rehearsal room as an actor, physical theatre performer and acting coach.
Rehearsing, creating and experimenting with ensemble and group work eventually gave me the confidence to lead groups of people. I learnt to embody creative leadership skills and a new found confidence grew.
Simultaneously my depression, anxiety and eating disorder were becoming chronic. I was becoming dysfunctional, sometimes hallucinating. I’d experience terrifying night terrors and would practise lucid dreaming to try and soothe and understand them.
I made the decision to leave E15 drama school in the hope I would return some day. In 2015 (at 25) I opened up to my family about my struggle with my mental health whilst I was living in East London. It was the first time I wholeheartedly connected with my mum on a soul level since leaving home. She was available for me again when I felt at my worst. Through her own healing journey, coming out of rehab, nearly losing her life; it was like she was an angel, coming out of the darkness to nurture and support me. It was not easy. But with time, love and patience from mum, grandparents, my (bio) dad, finding community (and therapy) healing began to happen.
My years of performance training and professional experience introduced me to powerful tools of embodied awareness and nervous system resiliency. Deepening my understanding of these tools helped me process and understand my trauma and my mental health. Thankfully, I lifted myself out of crises with the help from my support network and started to create healthy and sustainable neural pathways with therapy and deepening my practices in movement, dance, play and nature connection as nourishing resources for my well being.
These were the first years to shape me as a person, coach, teacher & performer..
After a 12 - 14 month sabbatical from the performing arts industry, I found the courage to attend acting workshops, open mic nights and networking events in Birmingham and London to ignite my passion again. I wrote to a bunch of agents and sent my show reels and eventually got offered a contract with The Narrow Road Company, I was with them until 2020. During my stint back in the industry with a few cool jobs in radio, film and commercials I realised it was the process I thrived on - not so much chasing acting success.
I founded Wild Play Lab in 2018
My formative year made me realise that acting training is an embodied psychology and the reason why I loved it so much is because it gave me deeper insights into the human experience, including my own.
That’s what inspired me to create Wild Play Lab. I was on a mentorship scheme with Bootstrap Charity at the time which gave me the support and encouragement I needed. Wild Play Lab had it's debut collaboration with The Psychedelic Society in 2018. A human experiment using play & movement within a group process as tools for self study, personal growth and empowerment. Adults coming together within a sober space to ‘play for play sake’. I've been producing events as with PS ever since. The support and love from the team (who are also my friends) has been invaluable to me over the years.
I wanted to recreate the rehearsal space environment but not just for performers - the perfect environment for creativity to flourish; a safe and nonjudgmental space to play. Through studying the work of playful thinkers and scientists like Dr.Stuart Brown, Donald Winnitcott, Stephen Nachmanovitch and Di Gammage, I discovered academic insights and scientific evidence proving the importance of play for mental health, connection and belonging.
Wild Play Lab has since made collaborations with Shape History, BEAT Eating Disorder Charity, Craigberoch, Novatis, Medicine Festival, Togetherness, Elevate Studio Bristol, Advaya, Spike Island and more!
In 2020 I signed up to train with The Somatic School (ICF body oriented coaching) and Organic Intelligence for Coaches to continue my learning within somatic work, play and embodiment to be a qualified coach to support groups and individuals on a deeper level.
Since then I have designed and delivered a range of online and in-person workshops exploring embodiment, play, conscious movement and dance for corporate clients, public and private organisations.
One of my proudest projects is The Body Knows - a course to help participants develop the practical skills to tune into their whole-self using playful somatic interventions & creative body based practice to vitalize Nervous System resiliency, reduce anxiety and begin to redefine their relationship to joy & pleasure.
The course started in 2019 and has had over 200 students. From medical doctors in the UK, psychotherapists in Spain, parents in India and school teachers in Finland, I have facilitated people from all over the world with a wide variety of backgrounds.
And that brings us to…..The Present!
Fast forward to the present and after building up a one-to-one client base, I am now officially advertising myself as a somatic coach and movement facilitator.
Wild Play Lab and The Body Knows are still available both online and in-person, and have expanded to be of service to corporate clientele through collaboration with companies such as CraigbeRoch Business Accelerator and We Are Resting.
I have joined the teaching team at Elevate Studio Bristol to offer drop-in movement and dance classes. This is also where I work with clients for in person 1:1 Somatic Coaching.
It’s been 10 years since I started active recovery with my mental health. Taking the time to write my journey here has in moments felt emotional and joyful. Reflecting back 10 - 15 years ago I would have never thought ‘the me today’ would be designing programmes, and supporting folks to reconnect to their embodied playful essence and yet, here I am!
So, this is me so far! I am forever evolving, learning and making mistakes...