Dance has been an integral form of communication, connecting communities and individuals in every culture and civilization throughout history. Social dancing, from Latin to Swing and Country to Ballroom, brings people together in a variety of ways. We use music and dancing to reenact historic events, to express deep emotion, to celebrate and to romance those we love or hope to love. Dancing also has another use…healing.
When most people think of solving personal issues with therapy, their minds immediately wander to psychotherapy, psychoanalysis or clinical therapies. Rarely do people consider the activity of social dancing as an effective form of therapy. Interestingly, dance emerged as psychotherapeutic tool back in the 1940s. Today, research continues to support the use of dancing for a variety of mental stressors and is utilized for individuals, couples, families and groups in crisis.
If your relationship is in crises “dancing is uplifting, enjoyable, engaging, and includes the added advantage of non-verbal communication, which enables participants to express their feelings without words when normal communication channels are absent or broken down” (Strassel et al., 2011). Learning to partner dance, from the Country Two Step to Salsa dancing, focuses on developing a strong connection between two individuals. Moreover, social dance lessons teach the man to be a great leader and the female to follow. What’s great for couples is that they work out relationship issues without realizing that’s the effect, all while having a great time!
Therapy through dancing is especially useful for couples with medium to severe distress, marriages dealing with infidelity, elderly couples suffering from depression or anyone with anxiety or dementia. For dementia in particular, dancing has been documented in peer reviewed journals as being the top beneficial exercise for Alzheimer disease prevention.
Dance therapy has four valuable components: social, musical, skill learning and physical exercise. Social Dancing may also be particularly beneficial for group and family therapy because the benefits of dancing include: increased self-awareness, improved self-esteem, increased connectivity of thoughts, feelings and actions, improved verbal and non-verbal communication, greater social interaction skills, enhanced relational trust and increased ability to recognize, decipher and express feelings appropriately (Bojner-Horwitz, Theorell, and Anderberg, 2011).
Dancing is a social activity because it is done with another individual and/or a group of people. This human to human interaction is important for all psychological functioning. Adding the component of music, the body is listening, looking, moving and reacting. The results are that dancing reduces stress as well as pain, decreases anxiety and improves relaxation. How wonderful is that?! Additionally, repeat interaction among other people where a common hobby is comfortably shared, like going Country Swing dancing at a local event, strengthens inner feelings of belonging to community.
Taking dance lessons may be the therapeutic tool that is right for you. It is clear that dance movement has the ability to instill positive life changes by developing and enhancing the relationship of the body, mind and spirit. It’s also easy to see how learning spicy Latin dances, like Bachata or Merengue, helps the imagination and the emotions. Performing any social ballroom style of dancing allows for an increased ability to adapt and to respond to changes in the environment. This means even stressful work relations will improve if the work group participates in social dancing. Imagine what this will also do for morale and productivity!
Isn’t it inspiring that you can do something as fun as Country Dancing, Latin Dancing or even group dance lessons as a bridal party and get the benefits of therapy to resolve issues within couples, family or friendships!? Whether you are getting along in all of your relationships or not, social dancing is sure to enhance your life. For all of you Phoenix residents, let us impact you with social dance lessons at Dance FX Studios. Before long, you’ll see the perks of knowing how to dance for yourself.