Dance as exercise and expression.
Dancing is a powerful way to improve your physical health: studies show that dancing can improve your memory, creativity, and even mental health, in addition to cardiovascular benefits (Science Focus, 2017). The answer lies in the unique way our brains react to dancing. When we dance, we trigger new connections in our brain and encourage neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to change. A study from Sheffield University and York University in England (BBC, 2022) showed that, when trying to solve reasoning problems while listening to music, participants who danced showed improvements in their mood and problem-solving ability.
However, the benefits of dance do not end there. There is a component that is much more difficult to measure scientifically, but is just as real for anyone who enjoys dancing: dance as a form of artistic expression. Alexandra, one of our students in our Heathersshared with us that when she dances, not only does she feel free, and happy"Dancing means for me to be able to express everything I feel and everything I think at that moment through my body. I really like to connect with the music and just start flowing. [...]". For Alexandra, dancing is a way to connect with her body and use it to express everything she feels inside. "[...] when I dance, it's just me and the music. It makes me feel free and happy", she concludes.
This is why it is not surprising to see dance present in all cultures around the world, alongside music and plastic art (Britannica 2022). Dance, historically, has served to express feelings beyond words, using the body as an instrument to connect with others. In ancient times, it is believed that dance was mostly reserved for religious rites, seen as a way to connect with divinity; now, we have dance everywhere, and not only that, but there are as many forms of dance as we can imagine. Hip hop, ballet, jazz and modern dance are just a few of the many, many dance traditions we recognize and admire today.
Our dance teacher and choreographer, Mariel Ianello, offers her perspective from her own experience: "For me, [dancing] means to transmit, to feel, to experience. [...] When I dance, I express what I cannot express through words, I do it through movements. It is extremely gratifying, because with any kind of music I just have to feel and experiment and, based on that experimentation during the movement, [...] without even really meaning to, I start transmitting how I feel". For Mariel, dance appears in a place where words sometimes cannot reach; to express herself, she uses her body as a medium.
At Spotlight Peru, we teach dancing both in our Musical Theater Training and Musical Montage workshops. Check out the “Talleres” section of our website for more information!
- Dance as dramatic expression or abstract form. (2022). Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/art/dance/Dance-as-dramatic-expression-or-abstract-form
- Why dancing is the best way to enhance your brain and fitness (2022). BBC. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1Hpr6R1f4M7f8Qc6fPGH2hg/why-dancing-is-the-best-way-to-enhance-your-brain-and-fitness#:~:text=It%20has%20been%20 shown%20to,including%20Parkinson’s%20disease%20and%20dementia.
- Five reasons dancing is good for you. (2017) Science Focus. https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/five-reasons-why-dancing-is-good-for-you/