Pexels Isabella Mendes
Love for Dance
Ever since I was a little girl, I felt the need to MOVE! It was something inside of me that put my little legs into action. I suppose it was drive, internal motivation or simply high-energy levels. When I was about 3-years-old I started ballet. Unfortunately, it was not something I stuck with because a larger girl sat on my stomach as part of a simple routine and I got the wind knocked out of me.
At that time, dance was an unpleasant experience. Thinking back, I am not exactly sure what the teacher was thinking but I do remember that it hurt and I cried.
I told my mother that I did not want to return to ballet classes. Then the urge to dance came back again at age 8. I signed up for ballet and additionally signed up for tap and jazz. My mother worked another job just to keep me in three dance lessons per week for years. For that, I will be forever grateful to her.
I was able to go with my best friend and meet new people. My dance teacher was my idol. It was a socially uplifting and growth-related experience.
I continued to dance and although I was not a natural per se, I kept going. My lack of flexibility and lower back problems held me back but I enjoyed it tremendously.
At age 13, I fell in love with hip hop dance. Ballet became my nemesis unfortunately, mainly related to physical and psychological reasons.
Hip hop dance was not as physically challenging for me and it was a lot more fun compared to ballet. My self-discipline was lacking considerably for ballet.
With hip-hop dance, it was like a whole new world opened up to me and shouted, “This was meant for you to do!” My eyes widened and my curiosity compelled. The In Living Color fly-girls featured Jennifer Lopez. She made her mark in television, media and music MTV-style dance videos blew me away!
Right then and there, I wanted to perform and dance! There was an inner struggle though. I knew I always wanted to have a spiritual purpose in my life also.
When introduced to psychology in high school, it inspired me to figure the purpose part of my life. Dance is and has always been a passion for me. Both psychology and dance have proven to be major parts of my life since I can remember.
Dance: My Passion
Dance is a passion for me yet academics took over. Before I knew it, I was in college majoring in psychology and minoring in dance.
Even though I dance throughout my whole life, the desire to perform dance dwindled away. It ceased being a focal point. Partly because my ego shifted but also in part because I listened to others.
I came to find out many years later, if I had known then what I know now about dance psychology, dance could have been my sole career. It can be devastating if your inner-critic voice guides you, especially if you lack an awareness of it.
It wasn’t until I learned more about the psychology of dance in upper-level classes that I realized how I was holding myself back from not becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. I was shocked to learn there was something I was missing and it had to do with dance psychology.
What’s Dance Psychology?
The psychology of dance and understanding its role gets you to where you want to be. It helps you look at defining and obtaining goals you set forth for yourself in the sport of dance. Dance psychology also opens doors in terms of learning about confidence, determination and affirmation in the sport. I wish I had that information earlier, as part of my studio dance class experience.
What I have decided to do is bring this type of dance psychology to students around the country. I am creating a dance psychology curriculum called Happy Mind. Happy Feet. It will include the wonderful details about how to look at one’s motivation, confidence, goals, health benefits, as well as ability to avoid burnout and injury.
Dance is not only a social activity that helps you feel belongingness, but it also is an ideal physical activity. First, it boosts endorphins and dopamine. The happiness we get from dancing is typically seen in the smiles of those taking part in dance.
The burst of dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter in the brain released to bring you happiness, is seen on the faces of those dancing and smiling. Dancing increases your heart rate making dance an excellent form of exercise.
What a positive activity to do for health and wellbeing! Senior citizens taking part in dance workshops have better health, motor activity and memory than those who don’t try to stay active. If we truly look at dance and its benefits, dancing can reduce depression and anxiety. Perhaps the simplest prescription in battling anxiety and depression is taking part of the arts!
Dance on the Brain
Dance activity finds its way to the hippocampus. This is a location in the brain that helps with the consolidation of information from short term memory to long term memory as well as spatial memory that helps us move on a day-to-day basis. Dance and the brain is being researched by professors such as Peter Lovatt. He is finding that the hippocampus grows with exercise and dance. This might help improve memory.
Dance also aids problem solving. It can improve spatial acuity and awareness making it a proactive form of prevention to detrimental diseases. This is a huge finding in the battle against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.
I would like to point out that dancing can be done on a simple level for exercise or for fun. Dance can be done on a complex level also but there are various forms to try!
Either way, if you choose to take dance lessons to improve your memory, be a part of a social group or exercise and have fun, you can make the most out of a new hobby where there are tremendous health benefits.
If you are dancing on a professional level and want more information about the course I offer, keep reading!
Happy Mind. Happy Feet.
In the course I offer, my goal is to share with you the three biggest mistakes I see way too many talented dancers making when it comes to their overall success.
1. They are not learning this information sooner.
2. Most are focused on the movement and performance aspect of dance instead of the psychology behind dance.
3. They are looking outside of themselves for the answers when in actuality the answers are inside of them. Perhaps they just haven’t learned how to find them.
By learning the education behind dance psychology earlier, you might be paving the way for you or someone you know. Perhaps, your own or your son or daughters’ professional dance career can benefit from this information.
Regardless if you choose to take the course or not, dancing can prevent negative aspects of aging, improve memory and spatial awareness as well as boost dopamine. Put simply, the benefits outweigh the costs.