Many cultures value dance as a form of non-verbal communication. What can we learn through dance? Is it possible to use dance for self-improvement to gain deeper knowledge of ourselves as we dance or others as we watch their performance?
I was intrigued by the post "The brain dancer: How about a little movement in your mediation? Just a little?" at Brains on Purpose. (As a former ESL instructor, I had fun watching the kinesthetic representation of regular and irregular verbs in the video.) I also happened to be reading the article "A Nonverbal Language for Imagining and Learning: Dance Education in K–12 Curriculum" [PDF] by Judith Lynne Hanna at the time. She writes:
Judith Lynne Hanna describes six symbolic devices to encode meaning through dance:
If we were to use the above devices to encode, for example, the meaning of an interpersonal conflict through dance, what would it look like? Perhaps, we could explore the conflict as follows:
Concretization: Use movement to express the development of the conflict and its effects on the lives of the conflicting parties.
An icon: Represent the other side, or dance in the opposing party's shoes.
A stylization: Express the feelings about the conflict through gestures and movement.
A metonym: Convey the most important thing about the conflict though movement.
A metaphor: Use a kinesthetic metaphor to represent the conflict.
Actualization: Embody your typical role or your desired role in the conflict.
What could we learn from this "conflicted dance" activity? Among other things, we could learn to:
- Express ourselves non-verbally;
- Process our own assumptions, ideas, judgments about the conflict kinesthetically;
- Develop empathy to the movement and body language;
- Explore metaphoric associations;
- Read non-verbal clues;
- Use our body as a guide in making decisions;
- Heighten sensory perception;
- Release emotions through dance;
- Induce emotions through dance;
- Evoke the memory of an emotion through dance.
And it can be a fun workout and stress-relief activity too.
Is there anything on your mind that makes you feel stuck? Perhaps, you can explore your challenge through dance.