About the Founder

Karen Roeper is the Founder of Essential Motion, a Transformational Practice of Embodied Awareness. Essential Motion is a unique and intensive personal growth process which focuses on cultivating and integrating mental, emotional, and particularly somatic (physical) intelligence.

Karen Roeper’s lifelong focus has been to explore the relationships between the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. She believes in curiosity, kindness, and is passionate about the value of life-long learning. She is committed to fostering these transformative abilities within each person.

Karen Roeper Head Shot
Karen Roeper

The following areas of experience all have contributed values, approaches, and principles that make up the unique discipline that Essential Motion reflects. By synthesizing and integrating all of these various life experiences, Karen’s primary focus is to aid people to reduce the stress in their lives. Through educating students and practitioners to use their bodies as a guide and a reference, Karen believes that they can function in their lives with more clarity, ease, vitality, productivity, and kindness.

Somatic Coaching


Karen’s major influences start with her dance training beginning at age 3 with the exposure to the joys of creative movement and improvisation. Her Movement- & Dance studies included Modern, Ballet, as well as choreography training. She later immersed herself in movement improvisation in with decades of Contact Improvisation jams and performances. Karen has continually augmented and deepened her movement experience with various somatic studies including Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Alexander technique, Pilates, Yoga, and other modalities. This breadth of experience has given Karen insight into common core principles that feed into the overall essential skill of Embodied Awareness.


Perhaps the most important life influence for Karen has been her study and practice of Vipassana (Mindfulness) Meditation. She studied with Jack Kornfield (A Path with Heart), Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg beginning in 1985, and has maintained a practice ever since, having sat on many 10-day silent retreats. Buddhist practice is basically centered around non-harming. And further, through everyday mindfulness, Buddhist practice seeks to eliminate suffering and cultivate love and compassion — essentially heartfulness wherever possible. One can see these core values reflected in Essential Motion’s Mission.



  • Teaching Credential (elementary and secondary)
  • BA in Dance and Education, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH
  • Masters of Science in Counseling and Dance Therapy, California State University at Hayward
  • Somatic Stress Response Training with Stuart Heller at JFK University in Orinda, CA (where she later became an adjunct faculty member)
  • Leadership training with Richard Strozzi Heckler
  • The Four-Fold Way training with Angeles Arrien.
  • Studies and collaboration with Richard Schwartz and Internal Family Systems
  • Voice Training with Rhiannon
  • Karen has continually augmented and deepened her movement experience with various somatic studies including Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Alexander technique, Pilates, Yoga, authentic movement, voice work, and other modalities.
Marion Rosen
Marion Rosen
Rosen Method Bodywork


Marion Rosen, Founder of Rosen Method Bodywork, has been a great inspiration, as a teacher, healer, and human being to many and Karen Roeper is no exception, as she has held Marion in high esteem for decades.

Karen was a faculty member of the Rosen Method Bodywork Institute, Berkeley, CA, and has served on the Board. She has taught Rosen Method Intensives for personal growth, as well as practitioner certification programs in the United States, Sweden, Canada and Russia, and elsewhere.

A Licensed Massage Therapist, Karen has maintained a private practice for 40 years. Rosen has deeply cultivated Karen’s sensitivity to the role of breath and unconscious holding patterns in the body, which she finds translates directly from the massage table to the floor in movement.

Since Karen first developed Essential Motion, her training as a Rosen practitioner and teacher has informed her work. By bringing together the creativity and self-expression of her dance background with the Rosen Method’s process for identifying unconscious patterns of muscular holding, feeling, and behavior, she has continued to evolve and share her practice of embodied awareness.

To witness and better understand the development and application of Essential Motion, read: Essential Motion: An Improvisational Movement Approach to Embodied Awareness and Its Relationship to Rosen Method Bodywork by Karen Roeper & Jane Flint.


As an educator and seminar leader for the last 35 years, Karen has conducted Essential Motion programs throughout the United States and Europe. Although she continues to facilitate private sessions.

A large part of her current focus is to mentor leaders. Karen has conducted two and four-year Essential Motion Practitioner & Leadership Certification programs in the U.S., Sweden, and Finland. The Leadership/Mentorship program has been honed and developed since 2016.

Roeper Town and Country School


Karen comes from a long line of educators. Her grandparents founded schools first in Germany, and later in Massachusetts. Her parents, George and Anne Marie Roeper founded the Roeper City and Country School for gifted children in Michigan. Her parents were refugees from Nazi Germany and therefore were passionate about teaching tolerance, peacefulness, and an understanding of our interdependence. “Playfulness, exploration, personal discovery, and empowering children to become impassioned citizens” were some of Anne Marie Roeper’s expressed goals for the school.

Karen developed an appreciation for these core values throughout her life in this educational sphere. She taught at the school for two years and co-ran their summer school programs. For the past 5 years, Karen has consulted with the Roeper School, teaching Essential Motion principles to the Roeper Community at all levels – from administration to teachers, parents, and children.

Karen and Performance Group in Costumes

Improvisation & Play

Karen has been a member of the dance cooperative “Quirk” – 5 women and friends who have been playfully performing, improvising, and creating dances for over 40 years. Throughout their tenure, Quirk members would direct others in their movement. As part of the performance skills needed, Karen developed the ability to also create musical and emotional experiences for audiences. She learned about the sometimes-delicate dynamics of moving while being observed or witnessed. As well improvisational dance performance requires the ability to mirror another’s movement, which are the seeds of witnessing and mirroring within the EM process.