Of the many ways to keep warm in winter, dance is arguably the most fun. Not only that, according to Christina Ianzeto, “It may not be the answer to every health crisis, but there’s no doubt that it can benefit the body and mind.”
If you have ever been home alone, put on a song that you love, and gone crazy on your living room dance floor, you will know that such a simple action can enhance your mood. Dance not only makes us feel physically stronger and boosts cardiovascular strength, it develops a ‘physical vocabulary’ for what psychologists do. After a good dance session, you will feel clearer, more in control, and more self-confident. Being fully in your body also allows you to feel more grounded and centered.
Dance in groups allows for social interaction and can require significant mental effort. For this reason, out of nine activities studied, dance was found to be the most effective in lowering the risk of dementia. Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is, for instance, not about performance, but about a process of improvisation, creativity and self-expression. For anyone who has experienced trauma, it can provide the opportunity to find an alternative to expressing pain in words.
“Dance is movement and movement is essentially the process of ongoing change,” says Sherry Goodwill, president of the American Dance Therapy Association. “Moving with one’s body, with and against gravity, one learns to both yield and resist, to feel one’s strength and feel one’s vulnerability, to try new qualities of action and behaviour.”
As with music, dance style is a very personal choice. As your own form of dance therapy, you make a date with yourself to play a favourite tune and allow your body to do the rest. As social creatures, however, some of us prefer to dance in groups, and may be more motivated to sustain the practice of this healing modality. Group dance engenders a feeling of connectedness and what DMT pioneer Marian Chace calls ‘shared rhythmic action’. And whether the dance class is structured or free flowing, each individual’s sense of vitality is renewed.
Dance classes available in Makhanda range from the traditional to the unconventional. Why not coax your introvert self out this winter and boogie to a new beat?
Dance classes in town:
Connect Niadance: Liz Campbell (074 315 4232)
Ballet: Cath Walters (071 608 9163) and Hermien Wilmot (073 204 9470)
Scottish Country Dancing: Jennifer Williams (084 589 7149)
DanceFit: Candice van der Meulen (072 378 1104)
Circle Dancing: Meg Harzenberg (079 228 0807)
Gigi Belly Dance Studio: Gilian Jacobs (082 992 0240)