Dance for Young Children Being Used in Many Powerful Ways...
Nationwide we are finding that dance for children is now being used as a method of treating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical problems. Throughout the ages, people of many cultures have used dance to express powerful emotions, tell stories, treat illness, celebrate important events, and maintain communal bonds. Dancing harnesses this power of movement in a comfortable setting and uses it to promote personal growth, health, and well-being.
Quality dance programs for children are based on the premise that the body and mind are interrelated. Many dance therapists believe that mental and emotional problems are often held in the body in the form of muscle tension and constrained movement patterns. Conversely, studies have shown that the state of the body can affect attitude and feelings, both positively and negatively.
Dance movements promote healing in a number of ways. Moving as a group brings children of all ages out of isolation, creates powerful social and emotional bonds, and generates the good feelings that come from being with others. Moving rhythmically eases muscular rigidity, diminishes anxiety, and increases energy. Moving spontaneously helps children learn to recognize and trust their impulses, and to act on or contain them as they choose. Moving creatively encourages self-expression and opens up new ways of thinking and doing.
On a purely physical level, dance provides the benefits of exercise: improved health, well-being, coordination, and muscle tone. On an emotional level, it helps children feel more joyful and confident, and allows them to explore such issues as anger, frustration, and loss that may be too difficult to explore verbally. On a mental level, dance seeks to enhance cognitive learning.
Dance has a broad range of health benefits. It has been demonstrated to be clinically effective at improving body image, self-esteem, attentiveness, and communication skills. It can also reduce stress, fears and anxieties, as well as lessen feelings of isolation, body tension, chronic pain, and depression. In addition it can enhance the functioning of the body's circulatory and respiratory systems.
Dance has also been shown to benefit adolescent and adult psychiatric patients, the learning disabled, the visually and hearing impaired, the mentally handicapped.