Celebrating our uniqueness and humanness.
We dance for so many reasons. We dance because it feels good. Dancing invites us to be in our bodies in pleasurable ways. It turns out, our bodies/beings are truly miraculous. Doing things that feel good is good for our health. “The human desire for enjoyment evolved to enhance our survival. What better way to assure that healthy, life-saving behaviors occur than to make them pleasurable?”1
Dancing inspires us to be the best we can be. It motivates choreographers and dancers to make the invisible visible, create beauty, nurture aesthetic appreciation and creativity, and work cooperatively with others. Improvisational dance invites us to be playful, spontaneous, mindful, and generous. Dance offers opportunities to practice resilience, accept emotional expressiveness, and share cultural richness. It invites us to be lively, with every cell of our bodies, in ways not only about being alive, but also about celebrating the uniqueness of each one of us. Dancing invites appreciation of diversity.
Dancing distinguishes human beings from most other creatures on the planet as we explore movement for its own sake. We dance to tell stories, to share ritual, and to ease our individual suffering. Dancing improvisationally is a wonderful way to problem solve, to brainstorm solutions. Dancing together helps build teams and community. Dancing expressively not only helps us be in touch with our bodies, but with our emotions, our minds, our spirits ~ in fact, with our whole beings. That is what prompted me to become a dance/movement therapist in 1974. Dancing and inviting others to dance as a form of psychotherapy has helped my clients, people with chronic pain, mental illness, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and more, feel that they are more than their disabilities, to experience their wholeness.2
Dancing is a way to generate positive energy toward social action. Dance offers opportunities for each person to feel a sense of belonging. While it is true that not every one feels comfortable dancing, it is only because of limiting cultural beliefs. If we taught otherwise, it would be otherwise. Dance forms such as Mettler-based creative dance is a great equalizer where no one person is better than any other. Dance is something everyone can do, regardless of language, physical skill, age, or culture. There’s a saying in Zimbabwe, “if you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing.” In fact, even if you can’t walk, you can dance. Karen Bradley wrote: “If we followed Laban’s lead, we would honor the planet and ourselves more richly and more clearly. We would dance with the birds and the stars, yes, but more importantly, we would dance with each other. In a world of pain and strife, that would be miraculous.”3
1Ornstein, R., & Sobel, D. (1989). Healthy Pleasures: Discover the Proven Medical Benefits of Pleasure and Live a Longer, Healthier Life.
2Find out more about dance/movement therapy at www.adta.org
3Bradley, K. (2008). Rudolf Laban. Routledge.