Most of us remember the romance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding "cheek to cheek" across the stage; the high intensity of John Travolta in his white disco suit gyrating under the strobe lights; and the graceful pirouettes of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker ballet.
Dancing has always been popular entertainment in the United States. And since the 1940s, it has been used therapeutically, as well.
Dance movement therapy is a recognized form of psychotherapy which uses movement to encourage free expression in people with emotional, mental, behavioral, and physical problems.
Recognizing that the mind and body work together, dance therapists use the rhythmic movements in dance to promote relaxation, wellness, and social interaction.
Dance therapy is often used to help victims of rape and sexual abuse to express the trauma of their experiences. People with physical disabilities improve their balance, coordination, and self-esteem through movement exercises. Chronically ill and terminally ill people find temporary distraction from their pain, fear, and anxiety. Even children and senior citizens benefit from the unrestricted movements.
Dance is a form of creative expression which integrates body, mind, and spirit. In Asia, it developed largely as a form of sacred expression. The Hindu god Shiva, in the form of Nataraja--the Cosmic Dancer--is shown in ancient statues and engravings dancing the rhythm of the universe and its ever-revolving cycles of birth and death, creation and destruction. In quantum physics, he beautifully symbolizes the ever-changing energy of the universe in its many forms.
Dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise which anybody can do. Just put on some music, and let yourself go! It strengthens the muscles and improves flexibility and coordination. It reduces muscle tension and stress, increases circulation, and opens up the lungs. But most of all, it's just plain fun!
"Dance till the stars come down from the rafters,
Dance, dance, dance till you drop."
Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All rights reserved.
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, June 12, 2007.