We are all aware of how body movements can relate concepts and express feelings. When trying to communicate with a speaker of another language, for example, sign language and gestures are invaluable. Eastern cultures, especially the Indian and Balinese cultures, integrate movement and dance very much more than the West into their lifestyle. Most tribal cultures have long included dance as part of their way of life, not only to express feelings but also as a means of reaching a higher level of consciousness. Both performing and watching such movements is known to be relaxing and transforming.
Dance therapy aims to release the natural flow of bodily self-expression in each individual, concentrating on natural, spontaneous and unrestricted movements rather than on formal dance patterns. Dance therapists support and motivate their clients to use this healing art form to connect to their unconscious mind, and many are integrating the possibility of an association with the stretching of meridians or energy channels that allow the vital force to move more freely.
A wide variety of situations are appropriate for this therapy. Music may or may not be used. Sometimes the creative aspects of dance are emphasized, sometimes the therapeutic aspects. It can be useful for people who would otherwise find it difficult to talk about their feelings, and is effective for most forms of psychological illness, mild or serious. Theoretically, physical illness affecting mobility such as Parkinsonism may benefit from the movement of Qi. Physical symptoms related to stress can also be helped by dance therapy.
Dance therapy takes many different forms and approaches. Eurythmy, an art of movement to music and speech developed in the Rudolph Steiner schools to foster the children’s sense of rhythm, and Gabrielle Roth’s Five Rhythms freestyle dance are both forms of therapy designed to encourage self-expression and creativity.