DIFFERENT ABILITIES & DANCE
Definition: individuals that have different abilities (not disabilities) and have their own way of executing and performing daily or any tasks.
I believe, everyone is capable of moving and dancing within their limits.
Dance is a terrific form of movement/exercise, usually accompanied by music, great not only for physical health but also mental and emotional health.
When dance or any movement is set to music it can be extremely powerful, creating a stress relieving, joyful and sometimes healing moment for those involved, a sense of freedom as well as increasing/releasing endorphins (the happy hormone) in the brain.
I have been working as a dance and movement teacher for individuals with different abilities since 2010 and throughout the years I have seen so many incredible changes and developments in the students with whom I have worked, even after only a single class. At the end of each class, students are more relaxed, focused, and most important, feeling proud of all the new challenges they accomplished in class.
Dance and Movement have many benefits for any individual, but here are my top 5 benefits I witness during my dance classes:
1. Opportunity to Express Emotions
It is extremely important for any individual to know how to recognize and express his/her feelings or emotions. Emotional awareness allows us to know what we feel and therefore advocate for what we, and those we love need.
Dance is one of the greatest ways to express emotions that are sometimes not easily expressed verbally. Using a variety of music, props and exercises, students have the opportunity to use their bodies to express what they feel based on the exercise. Even students with limited mobility are still able to express themselves through their own energy levels and abilities. It always amazes me how different music and sounds can affect my students so differently during class.
2. Stress Relief
Any form of exercise is great for relieving stress in the mind and body. Dance is no different. Dance is a great physical and emotional activity and can bring changes to emotions and attitudes almost instantly. It's almost impossible to not uplift your emotions and attitude after allowing your body to move with the music.
It's like therapy!
3. Increased Gross Motor Skills Development and Physical Fitness
Since dance is already a great physical activity, it also becomes a fun way to work specific needs and goals a student might have without the "pressure" of a therapy or a gym workout session.
With a lot of imagery and creativity I am able to incorporate almost any need a student might have speeding up his/her development process. Whether is polishing moves already acquired or teaching a new skill, my favorite part, is when I get that "no way" look from the parents.
With the right amount of stimulation and motivation, dance can really help anyone achieve anything.
4. Boost Confidence and Self-esteem
Dance has been shown to increase confidence, social and communication skills as well as improve self-esteem and over all attentiveness in individuals.
It provides an expressive outlet and the opportunity to try new movements and interpret it as he/she wishes. The more they know the easier it becomes for them to choose their favorites, making it their own and boosting their confidence and self-esteem.
5. Encourages Creativity and Imagination
One of our greatest gifts as human beings is our imagination and ability to create. The more we use our imagination, the better we create, and that is a very important quality to be developed in a dance or movement class.
No matter what age group I am teaching, imagery is the base of the exercise, or often the key to explain a new step or a technical element of a step. For example, when I tell my student, "imagine you're a puppet and I am your puppeteer, how would you move?", it allows him/her to imagine and create the moves to interpret it as he/she please. These exercises usually give the student a feeling of freedom, encouraging him/her to explore different "territories", learn about their own abilities and realizing that their creativity has no limits.