• Sophie Rogers

Choosing a song, choosing to dance

Choosing a song, choosing to dance, in Dance Movement Psychotherapy

At the start of a dance therapy session, it is likely that you would be given the option to choose some music. You then would be given the option to dance to that music.

Being given a choice can be an empowering experience. It can also be an overwhelming struggle that some shy away from.

Choosing to tell someone that you enjoy a piece of music, or relate to it, is the beginning of a way for you to express yourself to this person or group. The song may have many significant meanings for you: memories, meaning in the lyrics, association to someone or a to place. It may help express certain feelings, it may sooth or uplift.

Sharing a piece of music to dance to with others offers a temporary encounter, a relationship. It’s an invitation.

Choosing to dance.

For some dancing comes easy and the offer is received with great pleasure. For others it’s a daunting experience to say the least.

In my dance movement psychotherapy career, as well as my ongoing attendance at dance and movement workshops, I have enjoyed noticing in my self and others how we move from observer or stationary to ‘dancer’.

I think for many dancing is something we go to do. We are on the edge of the dance floor, we walk to a spot we like and then we start moving our bodies in a recognisable and acceptable way that is interpreted as dance by those around us.

However, what I have enjoyed noticing in non-stylised dance forms is that dance arises before the arrival at the ‘dance floor’. It begins as a tapping hand, a twitch, a tilting head. The dance begins from seated or lying down. It can roll across the floor, it can rock into standing. It doesn't have to follow a pattern, routine or rhythm and can have stillness.

For some the dance is held within their mind - pictures of fantastical manoeuvres (think of when you were a child). For others, we dance without moving our bodies as we watch dancers on stage. Our mirror neurons leap with the air lift. Feelings erupt in us as our synapses engage with observing a dance.

Ever been taken for a spin with a dancer more confident and experienced than yourself, more agile? Have you noticed how it makes you feel and dance? Do you come out of yourself, do you feel more expressive? How does the connection feel with the other dancer?

Dancing alone and dancing with others - dancing is seen as a social engagement. We all know what happens when we go to a wedding disco: the floor starts empty, then one or two dancers erupt and start wiggling their bodies, then people watch and they just can’t resist. The beat of the drums, the catchy melodies and memories of the songs, rush through our senses and we have to move. Some of us resist, scared to be seen, perhaps need those drinks to help free our inhibition. Inevitably that floor fills with bodies. Movements are made, endorphins are released, exchanges and encounters happen. Stories are shared, emotions are witnessed. All without words of the mouth, just words of the body.

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