Play an upbeat song and any young child within earshot will almost instantly start moving to the music. If you start showing them some of your 'moves', it's amazing how quickly they will pick things up.
I believe that dance is an intrinsic and instinctual part of human development. But then what happens? Everyone dances, until they get old enough to 'decide' that they can't. Then, your early dancing days at home or at family gatherings are quickly forgotten. It's too bad that the majority of us will never remember those golden moments; thank god for video.
Still, at some point years later, perhaps when you tried out a new style of dance, be it hip-hop, ballroom, latin, at zumba, or just dancing in the kitchen to one of your favourite songs; everyone has experienced again, the joy of dance.
Now bring yourself back to that moment, and think about why we dance.
What is it about dancing that is unlike any other activity? The sensations you get from dancing differ whether you are dancing solo or with a partner, in private or for performance, and depending on the genre.
But why do we dance? There are many reasons, but here are a few that really speak to me. I dance:
- To be happy - Studies show that dancing releases endorphins, brain chemicals that promote satisfaction, euphoria, and high pain tolerance (useful when someone with a sharp heel digs right into the top of your foot). Despite such moments of pain and terror, dancing improves your mind and your mood =) If I don’t dance twice a week, I don’t really feel like myself.
- To be free - Dancing keeps you focussed on the moment and on your body, in some ways dance is a moving meditation. For the duration of a dance, you are not thinking about your problems, your job, your debt, or your laundry. You are just thinking about your movement, the music and in a partnered dance, your partner.
- To express myself - Through dance, we use our bodies to communicate and express ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional dancer. What’s important is that you use dance to express emotion, whether it is happiness to be dancing, or excitement because you are listening to one of your favourite songs. Whatever it is.
So think back to that time, when you experienced the joy of dance. Do you want to feel that again and on a regular basis? I definitely do. If taking up dance classes has been something on your list of things to try, but you’ve never found the time, or if you already dance and would like to dance more; just do it.
A few photos below to capture 'why we dance'. The first three are from the dance festival, Cuidad en Movimiento in Havana and the last photo is of Onell, an amazing son dancer from Santiago de Cuba.