Dance Your Way To Wellbeing
WellBeing|Issue 186
Feeling sad, stiff or suppressed? Turn on some music, turn off inhibitions and get into your groove.
Caroline Robertson

How does dancing make you feel? Dance allows you to express, connect, release, remember and rejoice. Dance is a silent, universal language transcending age, era and culture. A baby bobs to “baa baa black sheep”, a Sufi spins in surrender, Indigenous Australians commune through corroboree — all dancing to the same eternal rhythm.

Are you moved by dance? Who could forget the choreography highs of Ginger and Fred, Singing in the Rain, Flashdance, Fame, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever, West Side Story and La La Land’s opening sequence?

Dance moves you because you’re made to move. According to quantum physics, everything is in perpetual motion. Electrons in your body whirl around in an atomic dance, creating the appearance of solid matter, though you’re actually 99.9 per cent space.

Nature’s dance is pervasive as plants sway, waves flow, flames dart, birds soar and stars swirl. Dance creates harmonious communion with one’s internal and external environment. Though there are endless excuses not to trip the light fantastic, everyone can enjoy and evolve through dance.

Dr Disco

Mindful movement shifts your mental, physical and spiritual state in powerfully transformative ways. A 2016 study by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that regular dancing is correlated with greater physical, social and cognitive benefits.

Jason Gauci, director and principal teacher at Sydney ballroom school 1 Step Forward, has witnessed the wonders of dance over decades. “It taps into all sides of our humanity. It keeps one fit through toning and cardiovascular activity, you need to connect emotionally with your partner, you’re constantly using your mind to know what to do next and to keep time, you’re connecting and reading social cues while paying attention to grooming, posture and pose.”

Studies support this as research found that a weekly ballroom dance class can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, improve balance, improve cardiovascular health, increase lung capacity, strengthen weight-bearing bones, slow bone loss, strengthen muscles and lower risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes. Dancing can burn nearly 600 calories an hour. It seems groove is in the heart according to an Italian study which discovered subjects with heart failure found waltzing improved their endurance and breathing more than controls on a treadmill or bike.

Gopali Nissen, a Kuchipudi dancer, says, “Since 12 I’ve suffered from spasmodic dysphonia which makes speech strained. Dance enabled me to express myself without talking and I overcame fears to perform in front of thousands. After years of fatigue and brain fog my body became very strong and my memory improved.”

Former professional ballerina Tonia Kelly, who runs Inner Ballerina Adult Ballet Classes says, “I had bow legs and it was suggested I practise ballet to correct them. I learned to rotate my legs from the hips and that corrected the problem. I now have fabulous legs!” Kelly is amazed at the benefits of ballet. “My students’ posture, flexibility and mood improve, and they make new friends who share the same interest. I have some special needs girls who come to my classes. Their coordination and spatial awareness have improved dramatically.”

Dancers often notice increased energy like Jasmine Oh, a 5 Elements Dance facilitator. She says, “What initially attracted me to dance as a child was the freedom to move in a meditative flow state, and what held me captive is the incredible healing and recharging results. I transform stagnant energy into activated expression.”

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