We know that dance releases endorphins in the brain, and that these cause us to be happy. However, there are even more in-depth studies that analyze the association between certain movements and emotions, depending on the movement analysis system used. You can read in this article published in 2019 on Frontiers in Psychology about the signals received by our brain and how they impact our perception of the world and of ourselves.
Today we’re taking a special look at this topic through an interview with Sorina, the founder of TMoves and creator of personal development (life skills) experiences through creative dance, dance therapy and meditation.
- When did you start dancing? I officially started dancing at the age of five. Unofficially from my mother’s womb and in the dark. Dancing with your eyes closed can be both unsettling and liberating, depending on what you have experienced in the past.
- Has dancing ever changed your mood? Yes, many times, but not because it was what the choreographer wanted or how the choreography was, but because it was what my soul needed at that moment.
- Changing your mood for the better is a common thing, but have you ever experienced being in a neutral state, only for your movements to express anger, dissatisfaction, or aggression once you started to dance? I wonder if your body and mind ever surprise you in this way. What if they dictate your movements? The state of neutrality captures in itself a blockage, an emotional repression that you do not want to feel and you ignore it because it is too much to process or handle. This moment of surprise came after my grandmother’s death and the start of my burnout and depression. And when the panic attack came, the difficulty of controlling my body and breathing was a shock to me, as a dancer. Then I remember that my movements included a lot of guilt and helplessness, conditions often encountered in those who are members of support for the sick people.
- Do you dance differently when you feel different? Of course, and this aspect is rendered by the quality of the movement. Even if you were to repeat a movement at the same moment in time, there will always be a difference because it brings with it a part of your energy and inner universe, which are in constant motion and transformation.
- Does dance affect the way you perceive the world? Ever since I started using dance therapy and I went through a therapy process, I started to see how my perception changes depending on the context, the people in front of me or with whom I dance, and my moods and emotions.
- Can you recognize another dancer‘s feelings just by looking at him? Yes, I can feel them through my own body and then identify them. Dance therapy also brings you this benefit because you train the mirror neurons located mainly in the prefrontal cortex that activate the same regions of the brain as the person you mirror. Then it’s up to you to realize what’s coming from him and what’s activating in you as a reaction and it belongs to you. In order to be as close as possible to the answer, it is important to know yourself, to be a very good observer with a high degree of sensitivity and a lot of practice. Otherwise you can be fooled.
- Your posture is, according to research, dictated by your state of mind. For instance, when you are happy you stand up straight and your shoulders are open; when you are sad your shoulders are hunched and your spine bends downwards. How is it in your case? The body responds immediately to emotions, especially when we let them dominate us. When I become aware of them then I begin to turn my attention to posture, my breathing and other internal sensations to see how I can change them, if I feel it is the case or when something is not good for me.
- In general, dancers have a good, upright posture. Do you think it’s just a matter of habit and discipline, related to the physical part of the body? Or does dancing have a long-term effect on the brain? It depends, especially on the style you practise, your experience and how long you‘ve practised. Among the most hunchbacked people I saw, to my surprise, were the ballerinas who are under enormous pressure in this regard. And when they were behind the scenes and the world didn’t see them, they relaxed and ended up in a poor posture. Researchers study these positions at certain moments and contexts, but do not know what happens when they are no longer “on stage.” There are already quite a few studies showing the effect of dance on the brain.
- Are the effects of dance felt in all aspects of your life? Yes, of course! It took me some therapy and several years to understand how much and how deeply. When I worked in the corporate world, the perfectionism I had developed and strengthened in the world of dance was strongly reflected on me and those around me, and this was an important factor in my path to burnout. In ballet, I worked on the perfection of movement, an aspect reflected in many studies in the field of Dance Science and Medicine. It’s just that we’re not perfect and we won’t be. I wrote more about perfectionism, especially for dancers in the articles on our TMoves blog where you can find out more.
- How do you feel when you dance? It is very difficult to put into words, so I prefer to express myself more non-verbally. If I had to choose a few words, I would say: free, balanced, powerful, and inspired.
What Sorina says reminds us of a quote from an article about human-robot interaction, which says: “Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.” The article is extensive and explains in detail the importance of non-verbal language in expressing emotions and we would like to leave you with this thought: our body is a living map of the soul.
What does your map indicate?
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