There is this memory I have, which is very vivid and repetitive. A moment I lived through countless times in my life ever since I was a little girl.
It goes like this…
I am listening to jazz and my insides are doing crazy moves inside me and the desire to express myself literally suffocates me. I kept the dancing monster in the cage inside of me and found some relief in my imagination and dreaming, while tapping with my shoes, hiding beneath the long tablecloth.
Right now I am sitting on a table in Amsterdam, overlooking the canal and considering a last minute impulsive decision to buy a ticket to Milan, so I can spend a dancing weekend with my Italian friends. YES! I finally managed to find the courage and overcame my shyness to open the door to the cage and face the monster.
Now I am living a whole new life, enriched by the multi-layered beautiful impact of dancing.
A life of improved quality.
Here is a recap on why I urge anyone, who ever felt like they are keeping a dancing monster deep within, to start dancing ASAP (meaning NOW).
CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT DANCING
Other mammals do not feel the same instinct to unconsciously entertain themselves on music
There is no other social context, which requires such interpersonal coordination in space and time.
May have served as an early form of language (activates the Broca’s area in your brain responsible for gestures and speech).
Also related strongly to imitation, a key ingredient in the ability to learn from others and in spreading culture.
Humans are biologically born and driven to dance, as this is a natural expression of our hormonal and genetic make up.
Hormones impact your dancing. Women dance differently at different stages of their fertility cycles, isolating their hips more in the most fertile periods of the month. Men dance differently in accordance with their testosterone levels.
Structured dance makes you faster at solving convergent problems, speeds up cognitive processes.
Improvisation, on the other side, makes you more creative, you are able to find more solutions to divergent problems.
Synchrony in dance is associated with changes in pain threshold.
Dance has been one of key hot topics in the field of neurobiology, psychology, sociology, and education for its empirically proven capacity to alleviate stress, push you on the learning curve, improve your performance in different areas, foster meaningful communication, encourage social closeness between strangers and many, many more. Furthermore, dancing also is a good tool for you to experiment with the triangle of self-perception and fine tune your own understanding of yourself, the way others see you, and the way you think others see you.
Here is what you stand do gain, once you finally have the balls to go to that first class.
SELF DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE
Self-Awareness and Empowerment
Improved brain-function (read along for more details on this one)
Another form of self-expression
Social closeness (sense of community)
And if you are more into NEUROBIOLOGY, than you are into sociology and psychology, and are still reading this article, here is what dancing does to your brain and all of your brain functions that it can help you improve.
SENSORI-MOTOR SYSTEM & MOTION PLANNING
Mentally rehearsing what you see, remembering a sequence, all of these actions trigger not just a visual reaction, but a kinesthetic one. There is a direct link between using your senses, communicating them to the brain, and your ability to execute an articulated body response. All of which is needed in dancing!
You will learn better how to plot your path and you will do it from a body-centric perspective, since dancing activates the use of the precuneus in your brain, which contains a map that gives you awareness of how you are positioned in the space you navigate.
Time is a fundamental variable that we must quantify in order to survive. Through steps pacing and rhythm, you will learn to understand time better.
Faster response to the disturbance by nerves and muscles. Improvements in balance may be linked to the complexity of coordinating foot steps, arm patterns, along with speed and rhythm changes that are involved with learning to dance at different types of music.
Dancing will release serotonin and endorphins in your body, it will empower you.
It has been proven that dancing reduces the risk of dementia through the practicing of sequences both mentally and physically.
Dancing can be a valuable tool to improve your ability to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully, while developing your working memory, mental flexibility and self-control. We are, afterall, not born with these skills, but with the potential to develop them.
Musical rhythm exploits the brain’s general principles of anticipation. Satisfaction and pleasure might be a result of that.
All of this only raises more and more questions in my head. Why do some kinds of music make us want to tap our feet and others do not? What exactly is rhythm and why is it so compelling? How can I master syncopation? Will knowing all of these help me become a better dancer?
One thing is certain, it surely did motivate me for the jazzy weekend ahead of me!
And tell me... Why are you not dancing?
what is your excuse???