Dance: a Healing Art

Topics: Dance therapy, Dance, Marian Chace Pages: 8 (2774 words) Published: December 5, 2012
Dance: A Healing Art

How often is a human’s movements used for simply completing a task? How often does a human fully use their body? How often do humans express themselves? In this high pace and technological time, people live sedentary lives and never seem to have the time for personal expression. Though in recent years there have been social outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. However these outlets only allow an individual to only write. They also do not allow an individual to express deeper issues. More importantly they are simply words and not actions or movements, they can’t truly illustrate an individuals emotions. Emotions, such a sadness, excitement, or fear, are the brain’s interpretation of physical sensations within the body (PsychologyInSeattle). These emotions that are linked to bad memories can be repressed or on repeat. Without a way to express them or let them go with ease and assurance an individual can really suffer. For example in relation to traumatic childhood experiences “the truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday the body will present its bill” (Mills). In these cases an individual seeks help through a professional therapist.

Traditionally therapies have been known as "talking cures," used to relieve the symptoms of emotional distress and the problems in living confronted by clients as they move through life (Mills). However therapy has evolved, there are now several creative arts therapies; art, dance, poetry, drama, and music. Each has shown to be very effective in letting out emotions, though dance and music are the only ones that let out energy. However music is limited to the instrument, where as in dance an individual’s body is their instrument. Dance or movement therapy is a slowly growing field. When an individual may think of dance/movement therapy the may often think it is dance in the traditional sense; where there are sets of eight or twelve counts and certain techniques and such, but that’s not true. A session usually does not exactly look like your traditional dance; it simply focuses on connecting the mind and the body. For centuries people have been practicing this without the true intention or knowledge of connecting mind, body, and spirit. An individual shouldn’t have any fear of moving freely without purpose. What is meant by purpose is in the sense of running to stay fit or jumping over a puddle to keep one’s feet dry. Adults and young adults rarely allow themselves to “play”; like how children do. The idea of dance/movement therapy is that through authentic movement, one can express oneself and come into contact with the conscious and unconscious parts of their personality. This contact leads to accepting one's self for who they are. The American Dance Therapy Association defines dance/movement therapy as "the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional, cognitive and physical integration of the individual” (“ADT…”) Dance/movement therapy is grounded on the notion that the body and mind are interrelated. The roots of dance/movement therapy can be traced to the early 20th century. Marian Chace, a pioneer of dance/movement therapy was “a modern dancer in Washington DC, who began teaching dance after ending her career with the Denishawn Dance company in 1930” (“Dance/Movement Therapy”). She began to notice that some of her students were more engrossed in the emotions displayed in dance rather than the mechanics and techniques of dance. Soon word spread to doctors of the dance students’ reported feelings of well-being after they mentally calmed themselves through dance. Doctors then began to send their patients suffering with psychiatric illnesses to Chace. Later, Chace became part of the staff of St. Elizabeth’s hospital in...

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