• Dr. Sharon Livingston

The Therapeutic Value of Dance


You’ve actually been dancing since you were able to stand. Think about that cute little bounce babies delight in doing. Dance is an inherent and important part of our human experience, even for those who’ve forgotten, who claim to have two left feet.

Dance supports psychological well-being.

According to UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the chemicals released while dancing are actually really good for your brain. A recent report from GGSC on the combination of chemicals cleverly coined by Daybreaker CEO and co-founder Radha Agrawal as DOSE (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) — states that dancing “uniquely benefits health and happiness.”

“There are so many studies done around dance and happiness and the science of dance as a healing modality,” Agrawal tells us. “It’s the most healing modality that exists on the planet. When you dance, it releases your DOSE.”

Dancing is an opportunity to express all of your feelings through movement. When you dance, your mind is free to forget all of your problems and focus on movement. The feelings you may be holding have an outlet through moving to the music. And the music makes it safe. We’re not just expressing emotions haphazardly, which can be disconcerting for many people.

Anyone remember the anger therapies which had people beating a pillow with a bataka bat to get out their anger or primal scream techniques that could leave you with a sore throat and no voice for days? Those approaches often backfired, inviting more aggression rather than eliminating it. But dancing releases dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness.

Throughout cultures there are . . . · Dances of birth, new beginnings

· Courting dances

· Wedding dances

· Dances of celebration, like coming of age

· War dances

· Dances telling the story after war and other human tragedies

· Rain Dances during droughts; dances of celebration after it rains

· Dances to express each and every human emotion.

Scientists tell us that Dance is hardwired and whatever is hardwired is there for survival purposes.

We dance to celebrate AND we dance to survive psychological trauma.

Isn’t that how Argentine Tango started? If you don’t know the story, click on the history tab.

Music and dance help us survive terrible things. When people are troubled they express, connect, experience healing and inspiration through music and dance in the form of the blues, or melancholy country or Tango.

Tango with its demand for connection and tuned in unspoken communication makes us focus on our partner as we stay aware of and responsive to our own core being. When dancing Tango well, all else is in the background. It’s a therapeutic encounter that allows us, that demands that we live in the moment. It’s time to refresh, regroup, and remember our ability to thrive together, even as we fight to survive, even without and especially without words. It’s a universal language that at once inspires, diffuses and comforts.

Do you know the song Sway? It expresses a lot of the feelings I’ve heard people express about Tango.

When marimba rhythms start to play Dance with me, make me sway Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore Hold me close, sway me more

Like a flower bending in the breeze Bend with me, sway with ease When we dance you have a way with me Stay with me, sway with me

Other dancers may be on the floor Dear, but my eyes will see only you Only you have the magic technique When we sway I go weak

I can hear the sounds of violins Long before it begins Make me thrill as only you know how Sway me smooth, sway me now

Toca Tango