We all know the general benefits of moving and shaking our booties (so-to-speak), but how many of you consider dancing a form of therapy?
Whether you’re conscious of this while you’re doing it or not, dancing has numerous benefits that can (in some cases) outweigh a visit to your shrink – and it’s certainly a more fun and cost-effective way to feel better about yourself!
Dance therapy is a creative methodology dedicated to helping patients develop positive body image, improve self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, decrease body tension, increase communication skills and encourage a sense of well-being [Source].
Over the weekend, we had a chance to learn more about the benefits of dance therapy, as it relates to breast cancer patients, at the “Integration of Dance Therapy in Femininity Reconstruction after Mastectomy” lecture by Dr. Annie Nganou (which was also part of the “Advances in Breast Oncology” seminar the was being held at the Bellevue Medical Center (BMC) that day).
Dance therapy, as Dr. Annie defines it, is “psycho-corporal reconstruction through dance and movement” and it benefits victims of abuse, traumas, accidents and other physical disabilities. Her classes are open to anyone and she advocates that’s also part of the healing process that there is no segregation.
So what inspires someone to become a dance therapist, you might be wondering? Like most good things, Dr. Annie stumbled into this passion by chance. As a medical student, Dr. Annie was giving dance classes on the side when she noticed that several of the women (from the class) would confide in her things they’d never shared with others before. This got her thinking more in-depth about the benefits of dancing as a mode of recovery and releasing mental baggage. She later went on to pursue this subject more in depth as part of her Masters’ thesis.
Dr. Annie employs oriental dance techniques in her therapy sessions to help women regain their sense of femininity and inner self. After all, who can help not feel sexy after a session of seductive belly-dancing, right? More importantly, for women who’ve had a mastectomy or suffered post-traumatic stress as a result of their treatment, this style of dancing allows them to regain confidence in themselves through the gentle and feminine movements while also helping them re-connect with (and re-appreciate) their bodies. She has, so far, worked with around five breast cancer patients and has noted the positive changes in them since.
Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself “the dancing type” as the classes are organized to be gentle and accommodate to your comfort level. There’s no pressure applied whatsoever and if you prefer to simply watch on days when you’re not feeling so energetic, then that’s o.k. too.
For anyone interested in getting more information about these dance therapy programs, Dr. Annie is part of the Daamu Dance Company in Paris and Brussels so be sure to check them out online.
** We’d like to thank Dr. Annie for taking the time to talk with us. We look forward to collaborating with her and dance therapist based in Lebanon soon. If you know someone, please don’t hesitate to let us know by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. **