Updated: April 29, 2017 1:19:27 pm
Dance, considered primarily a performance art, is a form of visual narrative. Through its performative quality, it connects one to their roots, and re-tells stories that one might have had forgotten.
But there is much more to the act of dancing. If you’re one of those who can’t ignore the beat of the universe, you’d know the absolute abandonment and catharsis that dancing provides. But there’s more. Speak to dancers and they’ll tell you that the stretching of the hands, arching of the back, and folding of the legs not only invigorate the body, but also act as an excellent therapy for the mind.
“De-stressing the mind is one of the basic premises of any classical dance form,” says Geeta Chandran, a practitioner and teacher of Bharatnatyam for over 25 years. “Dance liberates you and provides a much-needed catharsis. I have seen it over the years with my students. They inevitably come to classes during their board examinations to lighten the pressure, and then dance through their board years,” she adds. Dance also helped one of her students to cope with depression. “Dance helped her immensely, and completely changed her perspective towards life. She is much better now, and has even taken up teaching,” the renowned dancer adds.
Similar thoughts are echoed by Jigisha Roy Majumdar, an Odissi dancer who runs a school in Bangalore. “Life is extremely difficult in a city like Bangalore,” says Majumdar, who regularly encounters women suffering from depression. “I often have middle-aged women come to me who complain of crying uncontrollably without any apparent reason. They initially enrol to distract themselves, but after a while the change in their body language is drastic,” she says.
Majumdar, who also teaches several differently abled children, feels dance provides a sense of purpose, and keeps the mind and the body in perfect harmony.
Moving a step further, Creative Movement Therapy Association of India (CMTAI), a non-profit organisation, uses dance therapy to address individual needs and issues. Departing from our conventional understanding of choreographed dance, this association uses personal body movement to help people grow personally. Founded on the principle that there does exist a relationship between motion and emotion, this association seeks to provide an introspective and expressive experience in which dance as a therapy, and not as a choreographed product, is of supreme importance.
Each individual is provided with a trained facilitator who tries to elicit movement, and provide a space for an individual to express themselves.
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“My personal journey with creative movement therapy started when I did a creative movement therapy course from Bangalore in 2015. The classes made me feel great about my body, my work, and myself,” says Sophia Ali, a psychologist, who vociferously advocates creative therapy movement.
“The classes motivated me, and gave me confidence to speak up,” adds Ali, who is now an active practitioner of creative movement, and even co-ordinates courses.
There is much more to dance than what meets the eye, and it deserves more recognition that it usually gets. A good way to start, perhaps, would be to do it more.
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