Years ago we regularly attended coachig lectures in Berlin with my dance partner and it was on one of these occasions when I heard about ’Dancing with Leadership’ workshops and was later that day introduced to its founder, Daniel on a dance party. This acquaintance turned out to be a long list of talks, and by today a professional co-thinking, sharing. I find Daniel’s methodology and concept rather impressive an inspiring, and hereby we gain a little insight into his approach.
Born in the U.S. and currently based in Berlin, Daniel Ludevig has explored his love for the art of communication while living and working in France, Morocco, New York, Phnom Penh and Boston. Daniel inspires leadership and connection between people to be beautiful, whether in dance, business or personal relationships.
Founder and director of MOVE, Daniel aspires to enable people to work, interact and relate better together. He believes that effective and healthy communication results from having not only a clear understanding of one’s own ideas, abilities and goals, but also understanding those of our partners, whether at work, home or in our communities. His teachings educate and empower participants to use movement, embodiment, the arts and awareness-practice to improve their leadership, communication and effectiveness when working with and relating to other people.
MC: I know that you have a very complex educational background – economics, psychology, dancing, architecture… – how did your way lead from being a dancer to your current MOVE Leadership project or business? What is your story?
Daniel Ludevig: The story of MOVE leadership is really one of just being human and reacting to all the impulses, inspirations and pulls around me. I have always been interested in the mind and business (hence having received degrees in psychology and economics) and have had music and dance in my life as serious hobbies since childhood. In a way, it was just a matter of time before these all coalesced into something. Specifically, the driving motivation was a year-long adventure I had in Morocco while living there and opening up a yoga-dance-vegan food hotel. That project inspired me to look at my life and see where else various interests of mine could be combined, and hence the notion of bringing together the creative arts and business practice was born. The success of the hotel project gave me the confidence and inspiration to explore what the business world could learn from “the artists’ way”. With the support and encouragement of friends and colleagues I put together a website and a few months later had my first client where I could really put the concept to the test.
MC: What was the drive, help, resources on the way? What obstacles did you have to come over?
Daniel Ludevig: The main help in the beginning was offering free demo workshops to my circle of friends and colleagues on whom I could practice and experiment and from whom I received critical feedback. This allowed me the opportunity to practice my own methods while they were still in the making, without the risk of failure at the expense of a client’s time and money. After that, each workshop with my past and current clients has continued to refine and mold the methods and practices I offer into the current version that I use today.
The main obstacles in the beginning were learning how to best create a language that applies to every business practice and environment. I began with the language of “dance” but soon realized that while many individuals find this metaphor exciting, others do not. As a result, I extended my offer to all creative art methods and have since worked together with colleagues offering tools and experiences from all ranges of creativity including painting, singing, sculpting, theater, role-playing, dancing, yoga, meditation and writing. By broadening the experiences I offer, I am able to tune in more precisely to the type of metaphor that is most appropriate for a company’s current culture and use that to best serve their needs and goals. This offered alongside tested and traditional business development tools has created an even more impacting experience for our clients.
MC: How was the big idea born? Where does it come from? How did you put it together and realize it?
Daniel Ludevig: The original idea was born when I realized how quickly the body makes clarity of often very difficult to describe or abstract ideas. For example, a relatively complex sensation to describe is that of whether we get along or not with other people and for what reasons. Yet in a 1 minute 30 sec dance, this experience is had and felt instantly. In other words, when dancing with someone the sensation of whether it feels good to lead or follow with them is something we can identify within a matter of seconds, and often react to by either continuing the dance as it is or changing something about it. What I found myself thinking was, “What if the way in which we work with people in the office could be as concretely understood as the way two people on the dance floor move with one another”. And with that the idea was born to try to use dance–and as it has now evolved, embodiment and the creative arts–to better understand leadership and communication between people. Ultimately, it is my belief that we can obtain fuller understanding of a situation and how to act in it if we not only analyze it through thinking and our brains, but also through feeling and our bodies.
MC: What is your concept? What are the main methods, techniques you use, incorporate in your work?
Daniel Ludevig: MOVE Leadership offers a tailor-made unique experience of cutting-edge leadership and communication development. We use tested business models and tools alongside movement, embodiment, the arts and awareness practice. The programs are focused on learning and skill-enhancement while also allowing for high-energy fun and full engagement.
The workshops and development programs access our client’s full intelligence by exploring topics like purpose, connection, trust, style, expectations and rhythm. The workshops engage participants such that they share honestly and authentically, learn through embodiment and practice, and development understanding through a fun learning experience. Also important is that the methods we use are scientifically backed by countless studies, research and client-experience.
MC: How do you feel /see people find your approach? What are the most interesting/exciting/challenging recognitions?
Daniel Ludevig: There are basically two reactions to my alternative approach: either people are super curious about it or don’t get it at all. I don’t work with clients who I have to convince about this work since I think it is the type of methodology that only works when clients are open to self-awareness-based learning and development. In order for my workshops to be worth a company’s time and money-investment, it’s important that they have already begun their conscious-learning journey, or at minimum, are open and understand the importance of beginning one. That said, there are loads of companies around the world that are realizing that a work-ethic based entirely on production and profit leads to rapid burn-out and loads of internal conflict. Additionally, the popularity of topics like mindfulness and “play” have increased the interest from many companies to explore what alternative learning methods can do for them.
MC: How do companies, corporate environment welcome your workshops? Is it difficult to find the language to start a connection with them? What feedbacks do you get? What are the main results / learnings for the participants?
Daniel Ludevig: Since I generally up until now have received most of my work through word – of – mouth, the connection and language used to speak with new clients is very casual and conversational. Often it is around the topics most important to a particular client, like having more authenticity, honesty and happiness among employees and how they relate to one another. Or resolving conflicts between seemingly opposing teams or units. Another comment theme is change management and how best to lead and be a part of culture shifts within a company.
The results and learnings for participants are widely varied as the programs are so individually customized, but it is often on topics such as greater self-awareness for how we contribute to the problems around us; a greater understanding of individual capacity to change systems; greater trust and understanding for how to listen; greater mindfulness and capacity to listen to one’s own body and full intelligence; greater understanding for our habits and past mental models and ways of seeing the world; increased capacity for clear communication and leadership; greater sensibility for when to follow and when to lead and how to fluidly transition between the two; greater understanding of the importance of fun and laughter in the working day; greater understanding of how improving and development “soft skills” in employees has direct impact on bottom line results for the company.
MC: How do you find our own evolvement, improvement since you started this business? What has it taught you about yourself / your profession? Has your attitude changed?
Daniel Ludevig: Everything I learn about, offer and do through MOVE I also try to apply as best as I can to my own personal life. Each additional certification, new methodology and colleague with whom I work teaches me something about my own personal relationships as much as it does about my working relationships. For example, I am currently doing a 1-year long program through the Presencing Institute in New York studying Social Presencing Theater under the guidance of the incredible Arawana Hayashi. The learning on topics of meditation, mindfulness, awareness and care for others has fundamentally shifted the way I speak and work with clients, friends and family. It is such a beautiful thing when the divide between work and life becomes entirely transparent, and I feel so blessed to be working in such a way that I am constantly challenging my own belief structures, attitudes and reactions. Most significantly for me in the last year has been development around topics of understanding how and when to use silence and learning to trust inner knowing. Specifically, the idea that if I am tapped authentically enough into a situation and really listening to what it needs, the right answer and wisdom will always emerge from the system itself.
MC: What are the plans for the future?
Daniel Ludevig: If there are is one thing I’ve learned, it is that any plans I could make about the future wouldn’t be nearly as grand as what the future itself has in store for me. My entire focus goes to living and experiencing the present moment as fully and authentically as possible.
MC: Thank You for your answers on behalf of our readers!
The interview was made by Csaba Csetneki