The Psychology of Dance; Language and Connection
I have been dancing since I was around 13 years old and I was fortunate enough that my parents recognised how much it has helped me to connect with myself. Little did I know it was the beginning of a beautiful journey.
As a lot of young girls, especially growing up in Eastern Europe, I struggled a lot with body image and a fluctuating self-esteem. When I started dancing this came shooting right out – I was no longer able to hide it (probably wasn’t doing a great job at it anyway). For several years, I forced myself to continue however I found it difficult to enjoy the act of dancing; I caught myself comparing to other girls and felt intimidated. When I danced – I knew I was not living up to my potential. I couldn’t let go and connect with my dance partner(s) because as soon as the body movement began, somehow, I was more in touch with how I was feeling inside. My body was speaking to me. As time went on, I caught myself making excuses not to go dancing again (even though it meant the world to me) because I couldn’t get rid of this uncomfortable feeling. Little did I know that I was too young then to understand how to deal with these feelings, and I had little language at the time to express what it has brought out in me.
As I moved from a young girl into adolescence, I was more in touch with myself and decided to start again when I was at university. I began to build myself up through the movement of dance and I engaged in many different forms (jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop) and started to learn to let myself go. This journey led me to the movement I was looking for my whole life; Latin dance! For the past few years, I have been learning various forms of Latin dancing; Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, La Rueda and Kizomba.
This brings me to why I wanted to write this short article. I was fascinated by how it seemed to help with a lot of psychological issues, both for myself and people I met along the way.
Trust & Vulnerability
When it comes to Latin Dancing (or any dancing), as a woman, our role is to trust in our partner (of course, it goes both ways). We need to let go, connect and become vulnerable. Our partner takes us somewhere throughout this dance, and we need to follow them. If we resist, nobody will enjoy it (and it will look very silly too…). It is very important that the leading partner, makes us feel safe and comfortable. This is when language is very important. We communicate more than 90% with body language and less than 10% with verbal communication. Imagine, that throughout this encounter we are very unlikely to talk (or at least we shouldn’t), so our body language becomes nearly 100% of how we are communicating to the other person. We need to take into consideration that everyone has a different experience with trust, and we need to help each other and not assume. Some of us have experiences in our lives that dampen our ability to connect and trust with another, so the act of dancing can be a real challenge. It can also be an opportunity, to re-learn these skills, to let go, enjoy, be in the moment, trust and be vulnerable with another, without fearing that they will do something awful to us. I feel that it is such a powerful way to heal ourselves, from whatever we may have experienced. Let your body speak, and tell your partner they are safe, and you will not force anything on them. Patience is the key, it helps us to open up in our own time.
Dancing is a form of mindfulness, we need to be completely in the moment if we want to become a good dancer, and if we want to enjoy what we do (hence why when I was younger I was running from these mindful moments!!). Your mind will speak to you, and you need to listen, but you need to let it go. It is like observing a train go by, you see it, you may watch it go by and disappear in the distance but eventually you will bring your gaze back to what you were looking at originally. Go back in the moment, connect and continue enjoying what you are doing with your partner. I found that it melts stress away, anxiety and any worries you might have. Those few hours feel like days of meditation, my muscles relax, my body becomes less tense and I find myself constantly smiling. I often speak to my clients about their body. It is important to integrate our mind, body and soul. We are a complex entity and looking at our minds is never enough. We need to go back to the basics; our bodies. Listen to what it has to say. It will also help our mind and soul to heal and relax when we use our bodies effectively.
#trauma #traumainformed #love #connection #trust #vulnerability #dancing #salsa #bachata #merengue #kizomba #music #bodymindandsoul #mindfulness #meditation #language #selfesteem #bodyimage #selfconsciousness
Thank you for reading this and make sure you keep dancing 😊