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THE MIND, DANCE, AND MUSIC - 101
"Dancing is a beautiful art, sport, and life extending miracle that will stimulate your mind in more ways than anything else."
Lai Rupe's Choreography
DID YOU KNOW?
MUSIC AND DANCE ARE THE KEYS TO HAVE MORE INTELLIGENT MINDS.
As a little girl, I remember one of my favorite things to do was my homework outside of dance class. I was / am pretty nerdy, and I loved school, almost as much as I loved dance. So I would go to the studio, change into my ballet slippers and work on my homework while I watched the big kids dance and listened to the beautiful classical music. I always felt at piece, in tune, and intelligent doing my homework while amongst dancers I admired, listening to music that I loved. As a child, what I didn't know, is that music has been scientifically proven to help students learn faster and more efficiently.
Our mind and body work together, they need each other to fully function. When we stimulate our mind with music it opens our mind even more, to be able to learn faster. When we stimulate our body with exercise and arts, it in turn stimulates the mind as well. Since dancing includes music for the mind and exercise for the body, it allows us to be able to learn faster and deeper when dance and studies are intertwined.
The reason this is true is because oxygen and blood are considered food for the brain. Deep breathing and aerobic exercise create blood flow and oxygen, which are essential for a fully functioning brain and body. Oxygenation reduces stress and brings flow and ease to all movement. Blood and oxygen in the brain improves ability to stay focused during class.
In a recent Stanford University study,
The benefits of dance were proven to be even stronger than previously imagined.
This study took 21-years to fully analyze senior citizens, 75 and older. It was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and you may find this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The primary objective for this study was to measure mental acuity with aging to monitor rates of dementia. With this study, they wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. From this, they discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect, while other activities had none.
One of the biggest surprises from this study,
Was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. This study showed that most physical activities only benefited them through cardiovascular and other health, but the focus of this study was the mind.
With that being said, there was one important exception. The only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.
Reading - 35% reduced risk of dementia
Bicycling and swimming - 0%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week - 47%
Playing golf - 0%
Dancing frequently - 76%. The greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.
This study not only helped show how the mind and body are connected, it also proved that dancing had the greatest benefit both physically and cognitively.
Do You Agree that Dance Stimulates the Mind?
Psychology Today Data
PH.D, Steven Brown dove into the cognitive influence dancing has in his Psychology Today Article, "Is Dance the Next Wave in Cognitive Neuroscience?"
"Dance takes advantage of many of the strides made by music research and combines them with notions of motor control and sensorimotor coupling that have already attracted great interest in neuroscience."
He continues to state how dance is an art-form in which complex movement patterns performed to music that includes constellations of features that stimulate brain.
Tell a Story of Zombies coming to life when they hear Music.
1. Meaningful Gesture and Story Telling
Most dance routines hold a story or character, to intrigue audience members, and connect to them on a more personal level. You may not think it, but dramatic dances and story telling, actual help your mind connect more fully to your body.
Brown explains this by saying, "The neuroscience of dance is in its infancy but it has the potential to unify several domains, including motor control, rhythmic timekeeping, body contact, imitative learning, gesture production, emotional expression, and theatrical role playing, among many others."
2. Imitation & Motor Learning
Tons of research have be conducted concerning the neuroscience connections within dance, both by performance and observation. Studies conclude that watching a dance routine stimulates not only the visual parts of the brain, but also the motor-planning areas too.
That isn't all though. As dancers learn routines, choreography, and steps, they often do this through imitation. Lai Rupe's Choreography dives into this concept in the article titled, "HOW TO MIRROR OTHER DANCERS TO BECOME A BETTER DANCER YOURSELF."
Within that article by Lai Rupe and the neuroscience proven by PH.D Steven Brown, we find that imitating other dancers stimulates the neural circuits leading to well trained dancers, and a stimulated mind.
3. Interpersonal Contact
Brown talks about the connection that dancers have both to each other and to other dancers. He explains, "The social and emotional attunement processes that accompany such physical coordination, including feelings of bonding, empathy, cooperation, and social identity." Interpersonal contact helps human maintain cognitive memory and connection to other humans, helping prolong life expectancy.
In short, dancing has proven to be the most effective physical tool to maintain mental health as well as physical health. It stimulates the memory, interpersonal connections, cognitive learning, motor-planning learning, and can help protect your mind against dementia.
"Dancing is a beautiful art, sport, and life extending miracle that will stimulate your mind in more ways than anything else"
Have any dance questions, concerns, or topics to discuss? Don't hesitate to reach out to Lai Rupe's Choreography. I am here to spread the beauty of dance.
Also, feel free to check out the article, "The Beautiful ART of Dance," to hear a bit more about the other perspective of dance as both a sport, and an art.
Thanks for your LOVE and Support!
~Alaina (Lai) Rupe