Friday, August 10, 2012

The Experts Weigh In: Dance - A Catalyst for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Bliss


Got soul?  Have you ever been so drenched in sweat, so tuned in to your body, so connected with your mind and inseparable from your heart that you lived for only that moment?  

I have. There is amazing goodness that comes from dance not only as a form of exercise but as an expression of art and as a means of worship. It is quite rare to achieve all aspects of "the dance" every time you dance, but when you do somehow stumble across or skillfully achieve the triad of dance goodness (body, mind and soul), it is an unmatched experience in the flesh and an incredible lift of the spirit. It creates pure joy. Excitingly, though, each individual facet of goodness (not just the triad) is incredibly beneficial to us as human beings. The amount of benefit depends purely on what is important to YOU.

The Body.
Dance is a form of physical activity, that when taken seriously, requires great athletic prowess, flexibility and strength. The techniques involved are known for their stellar ability to shape and tone the human bod. I must attest to this. 3 hours+ of dance class (any form) every week will get you looking right and tight in no time. I have so many students (males especially) drop pounds without even realizing it, until one day their pants are falling off and all they can do is smile. What a sense of satisfaction.  

Dance is great for your endurance and cardiovascular health. Dance demands both anaerobic spurts of energy and aerobic tolerance, and it's a FUN way to shape up and slim down. You like pilates? Try ballet. Yoga? Try modern dance or tai chi. Aerobic classes like Zumba? You will most certainly be a convert to hip-hop and never look back. Salsa is a more social form that is also great for the midsection OR you could do more detail oriented and isolated work (like tap dancing) for some killer calves and great rhythm. Dance comes alive in over a thousand ways and styles, so needless to say there actually IS something for everyone. Have you ever seen a breakdancer with less than impressive abdominals? Case closed.  

The Mind.
It takes patience, concentration, a good memory, logical thinking, creativity and incredible coordination. I could be talking about playing videogames or perhaps constructing an architectural masterpiece, but I'm not. Dance is some of the BEST brain food. Math problems are good, dancing is better. It takes you out of your chair, out of your box and into a zone for your mind to connect with your body. That mind/body connection is crucial to successfully achieve a positive experience. It has been said that physical activity makes you smarter and less stressed. Yes. This is true. Dancers are happy people. You've heard of "leave your attitude at the door"? Well, you have to be in the "now" when you're dancing. It requires way too much mental and physical coordination to be caught up in that bad mood or depressed state you walked in the door with. Dancing forces you to be present. No regrets to weigh you down. No big ambitions to stress you out. Just that moment.    

The Soul.  
Want to feel close to God? Surrender in the dance. I am a professional dancer, instructor and choreographer in Charleston, South Carolina. I have been dancing the technique and art form for the better part of 17 years, but I just recently (as in the past two weeks) found a brilliant gem in praise dance. Worshiping and expressing thanks through dance and full body movement. You've probably belted out "Praise Ye Jesus" louder than your grandmother or aunt Gertrude could have cared for, so try moving to the beat of that phrase by guiding yourself through space and releasing your entire physical being. I call that dancing, and humans have been doing it since forever. It is in our spiritual DNA. It makes us happy and it pleases God. What a great combination. 

I could go into other well-being topics involving social interaction, culture and unifying the human race with dance, but I digress. Things are easy and attainable in threes...kind of like the waltz. Or the rock step. Or a pas de bourre. They just go well together.  1, 2, 3.   1, 2, 3.   1, 2, 3.  

Give the dance triad a try. It could help mold you into the type of person you want to be.

Images courtesy of Ryan Woolsey
Jenny Broe Price is taking the world of dance by storm. She is the Executive Director of Dancefx Charleston, the Co-Founder and Director of the Charleston Dance Festival (September 10-16) and the Head Coach of the Charleston Man of War All Star Dance Team. She lives and breathes to dance. When she does manage some 'me' time, you can find Jenny on the water with her husband, fishing for flounder, or reading up on plant biology. If you're in the Charleston area, check out one of her shows! You won't be disappointed.

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