November 20, 2020
We may not be Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Rita Hayward or Mikhail Baryshnikov. We may not make on to Dancing with the Stars. We may have two left feet and not one coordinated bone in our bodies. But no matter what, we can always dance. Chair dancing, dancing in the dark, dancing alone or with a partner, or simply dancing in our minds.
Dance is more than fun, it has many therapeutic healing powers. From dementia, to Parkinson’s, to psychological trauma – “the mind/body connection and dance is a way for people to use what’s happening inside them and express it in an external, expansive way,” Christina Devereaux, spokesperson for the American Dance Therapy Association, explains.
Valerie Perdue, 55, was diagnosed at age 42 with Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease that left her exhausted to the point of immobility and in debilitating pain. “The doctor told me, basically, I wasn’t going to get well,” says Perdue. Then a friend introduced her to a modern dance class. Although she only had the strength to watch, she “was so emotionally moved by its beauty,” she kept going, and eventually was able to participate: First she’d just breathe deeply, and move her arms while seated, then could stand for longer periods during the class. After many years of dogged practice, Perdue says, “I became physically stronger, mentally clearer. It was so transformative and healing to me.”
NPR shares social science research shows that dancing in synchrony with others increases people’s threshold for dealing with pain. It may also help to prevent falls in older persons. Harvard Medical School shares information about dancing and the brain, including a 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered that dance can decidedly improve brain health.
Dance, the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself… Dance is an art form or activity that utilizes the body and the range of movement of which the body is capable.
No matter how you move – simply swaying to the music, tapping your feet, feeling it with your breathe, dancing across the floor in your mind, or full out whole body movements – do what brings you delight and what your body is capable.
Maybe you can learn a new dance or teach one to someone else. Here is a list of the 50 famous dance fads over the last 100 years – including some of my favorites the Charleston, the Twist, the hand jive, the electric slide, and the YMCA. What’s your fave?
So?… Shall we dance???
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