Belly Dance

Dance Therapy and Belly Dance

Dance therapy

Dance therapy , which is also commonly known as Dance Movement Therapy, is to do with the way the therapeutic use of movement and dance are used to improve emotional, cognitive, social, behavioural and physical conditions. The basis of dance therapy is formulated with the concept that the mind and body and connected or let’s say, interrelated. Dance therapy uses a lot of different approaches to encourage people to improvise and express themselves freely through movement. Amongst other things, it uses principles and techniques borrowed from contemporary dance, such as contact improvisation, and props are also sometimes used.

It can be said that every type of social and improvised dance is good for the mind because it helps people connect with each other, it helps the body produce endorphins through exercise and it connects the body with the mind. Belly dancing in particular, is about joy of living and accepting one’s body the way it is without aiming for an ideal, unrealistic notion of how the perfect body should be.

Emotional healing

People have been using dance as a healing power for years with dance commonly accepted as a tension reliever. Throughout tradition dance has been used in different cultures as a way of helping to reduce stress and as a way of healing. Dance and therapy can work together perfectly as a way of healing and this can help people with many different conditions.

Many traditional cultures have used dance as part of rituals to heal the mind. Just one example, within Europe, is a dance form from the south of Italy called taranta during which the person affected claimed to have been bitten by a spider (tarantula) and he or she was made to dance to exhaustion to a frenetic rhythm, in order to get rid of the poison. In reality, the spider bite was just a pretext but the taranta dance was used to help heal mental stress or disorders. Taranta is no longer used in this fashion, but there are still memories of it and some dance companies in Italy re-enact staged versions of it.

Healing the mind?

Women (of all ages, shapes and sizes) have found that belly dancing is a genuinely useful way of improving one’s creativity, femininity and self-esteem. Belly dancing can also play a role in releasing one’s emotional health and many dancers have found that this dance form acts as therapy for them in helping them to deal with:

  • Breast cancer surgery
  • Bulimia
  • Rape and/or sexual abuse
  • and various other conditions

An important component of oriental dance is improvisation, which alone fosters creativity and the release of bad energy. Belly dancing’s roots are in social dancing, which means that this art form should by its nature encourage a sense of support and cooperation between dancers. Of course this is not always the case unfortunately, but a belly dance class, in order to be effective towards helping participants feel better mentally, should foster a sense of community, cohesion between dancers and the lack of judgement so that every dancers feels free to enjoy and express themselves. A good belly dance teacher should never forget that dance is first of all an expression of joy and fun.

Getting Involved

Many local colleges now have evening and weekend courses in dance therapy. You can also volunteer to be involved with local projects involving dance therapy, to gain valuable work experience in this specialised field. By being involved with dance therapy and bellydance, you can then build the contacts you will need in the business: a business which is rewarding and fulfilling. You can find more information on dance therapy in the UK on the website of Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMPUK). Here you can also find lists of institutions where you can study dance therapy in the UK and a local practitioners.

Are you interested to find out more health benefits of belly dancing?

Oriental dance can also be good during pregnancy and for new mothers. Click here for more information.

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Valeria is a dance researcher completing a PhD in dance and heritage. Valeria also teaches and performs as a belly dance but also enjoys learning ballet, jazz dance and other dance genres.