Just dance, it’ll be okay



I’ve been thinking a lot about dance this week. This may be because I have a 12-page Dance History paper due. Or maybe it’s because my fellow dance minors and I are in the middle of a weeklong dance rehearsal with Exhale Dance Tribe.

Regardless, dance has been on my mind and flowing through my body, which has me thinking about how restorative and meditative movement can be.

My colleague Cheyene Miller wrote a column earlier this semester about his experience with taekwondo and other martial arts. He deemed them to be, “extremely beneficial for the mind and body.”

“Practicing martial arts as a child helped me with my self-esteem, confidence, the ability to perform under pressure and diligence,” Miller said.

Similar results can also come from creative movement or dance. There has been mounting scientific evidence showing an array of psychological benefits that can come from dance therapy.

According to Psychology.com participating in dance classes can reduce anxiety, elevate mood and “change your internal state through external movement.”

A study published in the 2010 British Journal of Guidance & Counseling reported that creative movement can “support women during difficult life struggles such as trauma from abuse, relationship breakups, community violence and loss of self, and how it acts as a connection to the sacred.”

The study interviewed 29 women from various countries, spiritual backgrounds, ages, employment and forms of dance.

Through creative movement, these women were offered insights to their “inner selves.” They were able to physically express what they couldn’t communicate verbally.

According to the study, “the body reflects the mind and the mind reflects the body.” In essence, both can influence one another.

One interviewee said, “To dance the tango you have to be on your axis, on your own center, and grounded. (It) just kind of expands to the rest of your life so that the rest of your life goes back to that sense of being grounded, of being centered, of being on your own axis, so that as things come at you and hit you, you know where your emotional center is.”

Movement meditation, whether it occurs in a dance class, the studio, in your apartment or in your dorm room can be just as emotionally rewarding as it is physically empowering.

So here’s a little takeaway: next time you find yourself in a crummy mood, turn on a song that matches that mood, and allow the song and your emotions to move you.

If you’re sad, hit up some Sam Smith.

Angry? “Putting the Dog to Sleep” by The Antlers is my new go-to.

Feel like jamming out after getting that A on your last exam? Toploader’s cover of “Dancing in the Moonlight” is a great choice.

Experiencing your emotional energy through movement will allow you to embrace and then release it. And then, peace will soon follow.


Emily Markanich is a journalism senior.

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