Words in Motion

This article was written by Jade Prentice - a dear friend and dance obsessed people lover.
You can follow her musings on her blog.

Dance in the Oxford Dictionary is defined as when you: 
‘Move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps.’

When we dance, we allow our body to gracefully move with music. We allow a beat to consume us, and our bodies take over. When I dance, I can become lost in a previous choreography I have constructed or learnt. 

Have you have ever had that? When a beat comes on and your body just moves? When you learn a dance so well that it becomes innate within your muscles, and as soon as that music is on - you are dancing rhythmically. It’s fascinating. You hear a beat and your body just moves with it, as you remember. You have a memory of that dance ingrained in your body, a memory of precise steps and arm movements, which takes over you the moment the beat starts. Amazing.

Sometimes dance can be methodical and precise, it can be a sequence we drill into our bodies until we can perform it with an instant click. However, other times it can be wild and unexpected, it can be all we need to free ourselves; it can be the one thing that we need to release everything within us and feel peace again. It can be complete surrender.

This is why I love, long and LIVE to dance. It can be something you train and engrain within yourself; or it can be spontaneous and wild. It can be whatever release you need.

The methodical, precise dancing I learn in ballet classes is beautiful and graceful; it is strict and confining because of technique and history. There is nothing more amazing to me then nailing a specific move, like a pirouette, and feeling that elation and adrenaline fill your body. To know you are mastering difficult steps, and that even though you are pushing your muscles to the utmost, you are progressing step by step.

However, there are days that long for freedom. 

I long for the crazy, wild, passionate dancing where you have your eyes closed and your mind is silent. Where all the thoughts in your head are silenced just for a brief moment; where your body takes over and controls you. Twirling, leaping - moving with every ounce of energy within you so you feel stripped. Where the music stops and you take a moment to come back to reality, as you have left this world. In that instant I feel alive. You can feel all your senses heightened, you feel your fingertips tingling, your legs ache from giving it everything from within you; you take a deep breath and smile because you have peace. You are free. What bliss.

It hasn’t always been this way. My journey to finding this freedom with dance was a long one though, and it bought to light a lot of struggles in my life. 

I have danced since I was four years old, and I remember my first ballet class like it was yesterday. Standing there in my white tutu, a smile beaming on my face… by the end of the class I was in love. I continued classes for nine years. Unfortunately my friends began to stop attending classes with me and so my own attendance dwindled. I still danced in after-school clubs, but by the time I was sixteen I had stopped completely. That was when darkness descended for me. 

I had lost my outlet, my way of self-expression, and I wasn’t even aware that I did. But the effects were real: I became quieter, and slowly my self-esteem went downhill. Over the course of two years I lost my confidence and began to loathe my body. I was extremely aware of the pressures of work and school, and I just felt like I was never good enough. Slowly but surely I became a shell of myself. 

I eventually had a breakthrough with the help of my family and friends, and my confidence and self-esteem returned; but still something was missing. At this point I was on my gap year working in retail, and trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life. My goal was university, but what would I study? What did I want to invest in for three years of my life? Well after a lot of soul searching, I decided on studying Counselling Coaching & Mentoring. Finally - peace. 


For three years I was a Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring student. I loved university as I got to study a degree I was so overwhelmingly invested in. More than that, it’s where I rediscovered my love for dance. I joined a Dance Society and threw myself into it with all my heart; and in return found myself again. The moment I was back in a dance studio I felt like myself again. Not only did I find my voice there but I also found myself surrounded by girls that would become my closest friends and make my time at university one to remember. I loved University because I got to study something I truly believed in, whilst also using my free time to grow my skills in my favourite passion. Even better still, my career and passion collided.

We had a lecture where we discussed different forms of Therapies, and how some people communicated through the use of activities. I had already been aware of Dance Movement Therapy very slightly, but hearing about it cemented that I needed to find out more. The moment that lecture was I was in the library searching for any related information. I was captivated.  

Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being.

It is underpinned by four main theories that:

  • Movement is a language, our first language. Nonverbal and movement communication begins in utero and continues throughout the lifespan. Dance/movement therapists believe that nonverbal language is as important as verbal language and use both forms of communication in the therapeutic process.
  • Mind, body, and spirit are interconnected.
  • Movement can be functional, communicative, developmental, and expressive. Dance/movement therapists observe, assess, and intervene by looking at movement, through these lenses, as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship in the therapeutic session.
  • Movement is both an assessment tool and a primary mode of intervention.

 

My research put words to a lifelong journey. I finally understood why I had such a connection with dance and why I found such a realise with it. Dancing helps us to communicate through our bodies; when our words fail us, our bodies allow us to express what we are unconsciously experiencing. 

When I was in my darkest times, I found that I could not talk about what I was experiencing. I was so pensive about my overall emotions and thought processes, but I did not know how cry out for help and explain what I was experiencing. I needed a means to communicate without having to use my words. Dance is what I needed when I went through my darkness. The one thing I needed was what I had cut myself off from, and it was so detrimental to my well-being.

So if you love or hate to dance, can I encourage you - have a wild moment and let loose. Put some music on and welcome release. Even if it is for one minute, just have some time and let yourself become aware of your unconscious thoughts.

 

Reference: What is Dance Movement Therapy