Dance has the ability to convey emotions beyond linguistic, cultural or racial barriers and contributes to the spread of the feeling of acceptance. Through dance, people can express emotions or inner states that are difficult to express in words. Have you ever wondered why certain movements arouse familiar feelings in you?
Dance movements have the power to convey your life story, however, without the need to use words. Dance therapy proposes a new freedom of expression, in an artistic and personal way, accessible to all people — the only condition being the acceptance of feelings, regardless of their nature.
The mirror neuron system is stimulated by dance therapy
People are social beings and they constantly need education in understanding their own emotions and the emotions of others. Our survival as species depends on the relationships we form with other people, the quality of our relationships, and our ability to understand beyond verbal communication. Dance therapy maximizes the development of empathy, compassion, and social relationships through authentic, free dance and movement. The mirror neuron system is the neural network stimulated most through dance therapy.
Mirror neurons can be defined as a group of neurons that activate when a person performs an action or sees how an action is performed. These neurons are closely related to empathy and imitation and are considered an essential tool in the learning process. From birth, mirror neurons are activated and initially allow the learning of simple things such as facial expressions and the act of speaking, later playing an important role in planning actions and understanding the intentions behind the actions taken.
Dance therapy is the way in which you can express yourself freely, without any compromise and without fear of being judged. At the same time, dance therapy gives you the necessary tools to connect with yourself, with others and to understand the messages transmitted through the body-mind-emotions-soul-spirit continuum, in particular the messages that others want to transmit through non-verbal language, which can often contradict verbal language.
Digitization diminishes face-to-face interaction and reduces the training capacity of mirror neurons, which are trained by observing micro expressions and nonverbal communication. Reconnection and the development of a healthy attachment can be achieved with the help of dance therapy under the careful guidance of the therapist.
Among children, online learning and spending a large number of hours in front of a screen influences the posture, eyes and direction of the gaze or the cadence of the speech pattern. Online learning can lead to behavioral changes among children, because when children watch an online demonstration there is a smaller response from the primary motor cortex (the primary motor cortex generates neural impulses to the spinal cord and controls the execution of the movement). Children also have difficulty interpreting gestures or verbal communication if they are predominantly exposed to online learning.
Digitization also influences the perception of adults, not just children, because they no longer manage to decipher the gestures of interlocutors or micro-expressions. Constantly exposed to online communication (video conferencing, emails, chat groups), adults also experience reduced stimulation of the primary motor cortex and asynchrony. In the online environment, people do not feel anchored in the same reality, because everyone perceives the situation based on the images placed on a screen.
Mirror neurons help to express emotions and access different types of memory
Have you ever felt that a choreography touches your soul and awakens long-forgotten memories? Regardless of the nature of the choreography or the way in which it was performed, the emotion transmitted and what it triggered in you as a spectator is so strong that you remember this state many years later. This is closely related to explicit and implicit memory.
Explicit memory is responsible for reliving the episodes that happened in your life a long time ago and is a conscious act that you perform. Implicit memory is the type of memory that cannot be accessed consciously or intentionally, and stored memories are accessed unconsciously. Memories accessed by explicit memory are closely related to emotions, feelings, and inner feelings, while memories accessed by implicit memory occur when there is motor coordination or, if enough time has passed since learning the action, the memories become implicit and appear automatically.
When a choreography arouses strong emotions in the viewer’s mind, it means that there is a connection between participants that transcends the boundaries of empathy, activated by the mirror neurons system. Maybe the song on which the choreography is performed has a special meaning for you or certain movements are familiar to you, and this awakens memories in the viewer’s mind (explicit memory can be activated). Dance therapy provides participants with all the necessary tools to stimulate the mirror neuron system and thus the training and activation of parts of both explicit and implicit memory.
The dance therapy practised by Sorina, the founder of TMoves, applies the Ways of Seeing method from New York which incorporates elements such as contemporary dance techniques, improvisation, mirroring, meditation, mindfulness, drawing and/or storytelling based on the principles of neuroscience and developmental psychology, among others. Participants discover with the help of the dance therapist how to convey stories in an artistic and personal way using the natural movements of the body, influenced by the inner feelings lived at that time.
It is a journey of self-knowledge and self-discovery through the body-mind-emotions-soul-spirit continuum and of the development of the ability to interact with others without using words.
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