Have you ever thought that dance is a focused activity? Or that dancing is strongly related to problem solving, identifying patterns, and leadership? And more, that dance is a system of communication - among various - that is neglected?
Most of the time when we talk about forms of beauty, we consider painting, sculptures, photography, poetry, etc. but we do not engage with the art of dancing, and its multiple benefits.
For me, dance is about storytelling. It is the most basic form of expression. The movements become the medium for sensing, understanding, and communicating ideas, feelings, and experiences. Across time, people have danced to tell stories, in celebration, to mourn, to educate, or to show sadness. Think about military marches- they are descendent of the tribal war and hunting dances that have been an integral part of many cultures. Community gatherings, family moments, war and peace, the seasons of the year, all these events have been commemorated with dance. It also means social cohesion. National dances are used to promote a strong sense of identity: belonging, value, and commitment.
Together, music and dance open the mind to fresh and unique creativity, as well as provide exposure to different cultures and expression styles. The early signs of dance date back between 5,000 and 9,000 years. Body language, facial expression, and rhythmic motions all sync together to unfold a message, to tell a story. It gives an understanding of the importance of gesture, and how to better interpret a person’s body language – a skill that will be useful throughout our lives.
Many types of dancing for various age groups are available in Oman, particularly in Muscat, ranging from the most traditional Indian folk dances to Bachata, ballet, belly dancing, and tango. One can fill the entire weekdays with dancing – a great mental and physical exercise. The best evening is when I have a tango class.
Dance can improve people's wellness and develop efficient preventative healthcare strategies. Think about policymakers and the impacts on economic health, social, and cultural aspects, then, compare it to life quality. It is cheaper and more productive than spending money on treatment for alcohol or drug addictions say studies on the beneficial outcomes of dance.
In the article titled Why Do you dance? Development of the Dance Motivation Inventory, the authors found that from a sample of 447 salsa and ballroom dancers, dancing can reduce anxiety, and boost self-esteem. Dance and music therapy (DMT) is recommended for the treatment of arthritis, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. People with physical or mental disabilities can greatly benefit from dancing exercises. The literature is vast.
Throughout history, dance and music have been used consistently since the Greek civilisation; the treatment with music among Turks can be traced back 6,000 years; again, it was used during the ancient Islamic civilisations; also, the shamanic dance healing was used in Siberia and parts of European and American countries. The Greek scholar Pythagoras used music to soothe distressed organs. The book titled ‘Music in Health and Diseases’ edited by Amit Agrawal, Roshan Sutar, and Anvesh Jallapally is highly informative.
The field of dance has attracted academic interest. There are inspiring topics and research done on everything from the aesthetic meanings of choreography to the sociological role of dance in society and culture to the use of technology and education. Reputed journals indicated that DMT can be used as a treatment for children with autism, it can also directly improve memory in people with dementia. According to scholarly articles, dance, like other art forms and sports, should be included in both formal and non-formal education systems.
Dance is a broad subject. It has more than meets the eyes. Let’s go dancing. It will certainly boost your mood.
The writer is journalist, academic, researcher in media studies