goes back to primitive times, and magical powers have been attributed
to it. When a witch doctor dances, it is to exorcise evil spirits from
the sick person.
read that during the Middle Ages people even danced to avoid the plague.
The Tarantella of Italy is believed to have originated after a poisonous
spiderís bite caused tarantism, and the cure for it was a jumping dance.
dance therapy evolved from the age-old idea that dancing has the power
to cure. These days, dance therapists are mental health professionals,
who treat problems such as neurosis, psychosis, and even alcoholism
with the dance.
is a primal response to rhythm and music, so the dance therapist uses
dancerís techniques to put the patient in touch with himself. A psychiatrist,
of course, talks a patient through his problems, while a dance therapist
uses the non-verbal, movement oriented techniques.
dance therapy, the patient is made aware of his feelings through sensation
and movement. Emotional problems and conflicts become concrete this
way, they say. By integrating body and mind, the goal of dance therapy
is to build the self-esteem and self-identity of an emotionally ill
American Dance Therapy Association was founded in 1966. Its aim was
to establish criteria for professional education and competence in
this highly specialized area. The result of this is that there are
now standardized procedures based on the present-day knowledge of the
human nervous system and psyche, and of dance.
It is known that each one of our five senses sends messages to our
brain through the nerves. And we react accordingly. In a nutshell,
we jump for joy when weíre happy about something, we slump when we
are sad. That is body language. When the body doesnít react to the
messages of the brain, we may blow an emotional fuse, and withdraw.
Dance Therapy, patients are taught to act out hidden hurts. It is believed
that acting out past hurts and frustrations can help the individual
come to terms with his emotional problems and thus, learn to deal with
Dance Therapy session consists of a small group, observed by a therapist.
Sometimes, patients sit on the floor at the start, and as appropriate
music plays, they keep time by striking beaters, in actuality bamboo
reeds, against the floor. This is to help release hostility. Or daily
routines are acted out, to the music. Finally the group begins to move
around the room by walking, running, hopping, jumping, skipping, sliding,
patients learn how to re-establish contact with themselves by touching.
First they touch their own hair, eyes, ears, lips, limbs, etc., then
partners are selected and they are encouraged to touch each otherís
parts. Basically, these exercises lead to movements of varying tempo,
dynamics and rhythm.
purpose of all the various dance rituals and movements is to help patients
participating gain new insights into themselves. And the session usually
ends with a group hug, to create an atmosphere of love and acceptance.
Therapy has been found very effective for people living out their lives
in nursing homes. By providing opportunities for freedom of expression
through movement, many of these old people regain more positive attitudes
Dance Therapy is still a fairly new practice, it is known that it can
provide an emotional release for pent-up, repressed feelings, and as
a result, the patient may be sent on the road to improved mental health.
And for the average person, putting on some music and dancing around
in the kitchen, is not only great therapy, itís also fun!
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