THE BENEFITS OF DANCE

Why We Dance

Why do we dance?  We dance because we love it, it makes us feel happy, it brings community together and spreads love and tolerance. There are a million and one reasons to dance.  Anyone can benefit from it; you certainly don’t have to be a professional. When I find my way to the dance floor at a gathering, I can feel the desire that others have to join the party. They may feel shy or unsure, but the craving to let go and feel the joy is there. And it’s always worth, letting your guard down, and just letting the music move you.  Here are 10 perfectly good reasons to dance more!

1.  Releases stored emotion and stress

As the body heats up, endorphins kick in and we are able to let go of the tightness and holding.  Many of us work hard to hold it all together.  Parenting, work, finances, daily responsibilities.    Dance is a release.  A letting go.  A way of expressing our feelings that are sometimes hidden, even to us. It is a perfect activity for sickness prevention! Get it out, don’t let it harbor and stay inside.  

2.  Quiets the mind chatter

Dance is a form of meditation, a tool to get us out of the stressed, active mind that jumps from one thought to the next.  The movement brings us to the present moment and the life force energy that is generated brings a sense of calm, bliss and joy. Dance is a wonderful bridge from the overworked mind to the quiet space within.  

3.  Opens up the pathways to increased insight and clarity

As the mind quiets, we get in touch with the incredible wisdom and inner guidance that we all have access to. We may come up with solutions to problems we never thought of before. We may receive bursts of creativity and ideas that flow easily and gracefully. I always keep a journal nearby so that I may write any inspirations that come forward during my dancing.  

4.  Improves strength, flexibility and balance

Muscles are engaged, worked, and strengthened. Footwork challenges balance and helps us stabilize and gain better control of our bodies. Dancing reduces stiffness and eases joint pain, and allows for more mobility and grace on the dance floor, and in life.  

5.  Improves cardiovascular health 

Our heart rate increases and we improve our heart health, breathing and quality of life. Dancing allows us to work at our own fitness level, increasing speed and footwork as strength and stamina improve.  

6.  Promotes better sleep

It’s no a surprise that regular aerobic exercise can promote good sleep. The body has worked, exerted itself, and can fully rest and restore during the night. 

7.  Increases a sense of well-being 

Dance is a form of alchemy that serves to illuminate, transform and bring more levity. It naturally increases serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps control mood, and brings a positive mindset. Dance helps us to build up our emotional reserve so that we have more energy to handle the struggles that may arise in life.  

8.  Makes you smarter

Dancing increases cognitive acuity at all ages. It integrates several brain functions at once - kinesthetic, rational, musical and emotional - further increasing our neural connectivity. Dance takes us out of our comfort zones and allows us to build new pathways to learning.     

9.  Opens your heart

Dance is heart expanding. Where we feel tightness and holding, dance brings space, joy, happiness and light to those areas, and your whole being. You may feel “blissed out” and expansive after a dance workout.   

10.  Helps you feel courageous, free and empowered

As we tap into our own life energy, we feel our purpose, our own power, our voice. There is much to be expressed and shared through dance.  It is free, without judgment, and pure.  

Dance is a gateway to freedom, a gateway to what we want in life. It dissolves fears, transcends boundaries, and brings us closer to ourselves and each other. Whether in a dance class or in your living room, let dance be a gift. I am very thankful to have dance in my life and to share it with others as a powerful source of healing and comfort. So, get to dancing!

UPCOMING EVENTS

Why You Should Get Your Dance On!

I’ve been dancing all my life.  Without realizing it, dance during my childhood years was an emotional salve for a lot of painful and uncomfortable experiences.  Shyness in groups, hiding for fear of being seen, self-induced perfectionism.

When I showed up at the dance studio every day after school, all my fear, vulnerability and pain came out through the movement, the music, the passion and drive of my heart. I didn’t have to talk about my struggles, or fix things or figure it out.  I barely understood what I was going through.  But I did have raw emotions and luckily, dance gave me a way to process the natural and real feelings that coursed through my being.  Instead of getting stuck in a place of fear or worry, the movement brought in the light, the joy, the comfort.

My heart beats, the music takes me, the wood floor under my feet.  I sweat, I focus, I move.  I dance, I get lost inside in the most satisfying way.  I am ok.  I am here.  I will be ok.    

We hold emotion, stress, trauma, hurt, anger, fear, worry in our bodies.  Our shoulders and back tense up, our hips ache, we have chronic ailments and pain.  We get sick.     

If you don’t let emotions live, they will never die.

This is why dance is an integral part of my INsideOUT workshops; dance helps us to release emotion, let go of judgment and dissolve doubt.  As we connect to any pain, discomfort or disturbance that is present for us, we use dance to give voice to those feelings, and as we express, we release.  Just as an animal in nature "shakes" off the energy of a fight or flight moment, we humans need a way to let go, to release these strong moments from our bodies.  And as we do, we make room for new information, new ways of seeing things.  When we dance, our mind quiets and we get in touch with that inner voice inside, that inner guidance that has messages, wisdom, clarity and is the map to real peace and happiness.  

Dance is a powerful impulse and you need no training or technique to receive it’s benefits.  

Dance . . .

  • Gets you grounded in your body
  • Releases stored emotion and stress
  • Opens up the pathways to increased insight and clarity
  • Quiets the mind chatter
  • Improves strength and flexibility
  • Warms the body and ups your heart rate
  • Helps you feel courageous, free and empowered
  • Opens your heart

Dance is a gateway to freedom, a gateway to what we want in life.  It dissolves fears, transcends boundaries, and brings us closer to our ourselves and each other.  I am very thankful to have dance in my life and to share it with others as a powerful source of healing and comfort.  

For a simple, guided exercise, and to get a taste of my INsideOUT class, you can sign up below. It's FREE!

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UPCOMING EVENTS

Capturing Grace, Dancing with Parkinson's

Who knew that a simple hour in a dance studio with strangers could move me so deeply and be so transformational, to the point where I slowly and discreetly slide tears from my cheeks, as my heart swells and my body dances.   

This beautiful hour happened yesterday when I decided to join and witness dance as a healing source for people with Parkinson’s disease.  I first heard about Dance for PD through a posting that the Michael J. Fox Foundation shared.  I was perusing the internet, looking at research and information as my father has been struggling with this debilitating and progressive disease for over 12 years.  I see him bravely face the changes in his body, the grueling tightness, the fatigue, the tremors, difficulty walking, and other nonmotor symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, depression.  

When I saw that the Mark Morris Dance Group had collaborated with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group to create Dance for PD, I was immediately inspired and wanted to experience it.  Luckily these classes are offered throughout the states and in 11 countries around the world, and a beautiful documentary called Capturing Grace literally captures the essence of this healing work and the lives who are benefited from it.      

I know and understand the power of dance to heal, through my work as a professional dancer and choreographer and from the program I created INsideOUT, using dance to relieve pain in the body, bring joy to the soul and peace to the mind.   

As the participants filed into the studio yesterday I saw the familiar symptoms, the swinging gait, the shuffling feet, the far away glance, the scared look of uncertainty.  As the class began, those limitations sort of fell away.  It’s not that all of a sudden they were sky bound and leaping, but the heart and soul, the childlike freedom and joy is what rang so loudly in that room.  The music swept all of us up, and each of us brought our concerns, and placed them on the dance floor.  No longer patients, but dancers.  We each spoke a word to describe one of our current struggles, flexibility, feeling alone, can’t communicate clearly, exhaustion, and then we put those feelings into movement.  In a circle, facing each other, we strung our gestures into a linked dance, a story of our human experience, our highs and lows.  And again, the tears streamed from the corners of my eyes.

To finish, hand in hand, passing love and acknowledgment from one person to the next, was so incredibly moving.  To slow down, to be present to another’s experience, to give love, was truly a divine moment for me and kind of life changing.

May my father and others enjoy the benefits of this fitting and healing program.  Thank you to Lineage Performing Arts Center for having me and for all the other studios bringing this beautiful work to their communities: Find a class 

Love and blessings, 

xo Tara

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UPCOMING EVENTS

5 Ways Dance Can Help Clear Your Mind & Bring Inner Peace

From Tara's article on Mind Body Green

Photo by Ron Hamad

Photo by Ron Hamad

For many years I believed dancing was a type of escape:  from fear, worry, judgment, tough teenage years.  Especially when I was young, my analyzing and worrying mind was so active and my emotional life was vulnerable, hidden and confusing.  Yet, when I stepped on the dance floor, those worries and uncertainties fell away.  Something about the rhythm and the vibration of the music and getting lost in the movement allowed me a gateway to expressing, giving voice and ultimately releasing those emotions of sadness, fear, loneliness.  And what poured in, as I went deeper into the dance, was a wellspring of freedom, happiness, calm, a feeling that I am going to be okay in this world.     

I realize now that dance wasn’t an escape, but a way of moving closer to myself, to my feelings, to my needs and my dreams.  Dance brought me closer to my inner peace and by giving over to the movement and the music, my soul took care of the rest.  Kind of like soul therapy.  I needed to quiet my mind and express my emotions.  Dance is wonderfully emotional.  I LOVE that quote, “If you don’t let emotions live, they will never die.”  Through dance, we can honor our emotions.  

And now as an adult, I still use dance, in addition to my meditation practice, to get in touch with that divine yumminess.  We all, at some point or another, have challenges that keep our mind reeling and questioning and spiraling and going.  The self-doubt, the uncertainty, the day to day struggles, the emotional roller coaster of life.  This chaotic mental dance can be channelled into the dance of the body to bring greater peace and happiness.  

You don’t have to be a professional dancer to dive in and feel connected to yourself and to that source that fuels us.  Whether you’re in a dance class, or you choose to dim the lights and play your favorite song in your living room, you receive the benefit of the energy that flows and the new information that comes in.  

Here are my 5 simple steps to dancing bliss.  I invite you to try it.  Who cares what you look like.  What matters is how you feel and sometimes all it takes is the willingness to do something different and be open to what appears.  There can be great healing in the dance.     

1.  Take off your shoes and put on something comfortable.  Feeling the wood floor or carpet beneath your bare feet gets you in touch with the support that is there for you always.  Allow your body weight, energy, any tension or worry to fall into the ground and melt away.           

2.  Dim the lights so that it is an internal experience.  You want to be cocooned and safe in your own private world.  This is not about perfect moves or performing outwardly, it’s not about judging yourself and deciding whether you are “good” or not.  Closing your eyes helps to tune into yourself and your journey.    

3.  This can be a beautiful journey of discovery, reflection, expression.  Set an intention for how you’d like to feel, what you’d like to get out of this dance meditation.  Maybe you’d like to let go of something, bring in something new, reframe a difficult situation.  Or maybe you just want to feel good.  Whatever it is, state it internally or out loud.  

4.  Put on a song or album that you love.  Pop music with lyrics can be fun but a soundscape feel that is more about the mood, and less about the words, can be helpful for soul traveling.  Play it on repeat or with a continuous stream, so that you are not interrupted with an abrupt ending.      

5.  Let yourself go.  Close your eyes, let the music move your body and don’t be afraid to release.  It’s a wonderful practice in surrendering to what is.  Let the energy flow as your body heats up and let instinct guide the way, allowing your body to move in different ways, shapes and expressions.  Let the anger out.  Let the happiness ring.  Let the giddiness ride.  It’s a beautiful thing.    

And when you’re done,  thank yourself for having the courage to explore and express.  Many times I go to my journal afterwards to write down any inspirations or insight that came forward.  Dance is a gift that we all have access to.  Love and light to you.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

I Won't Give Up, A Film

It was incredibly inspiring being a part of this short dance film, honoring and celebrating the amazing and brave Donna Russo.  Donna has danced nearly all her life, but over the past seven years muscular dystrophy has taken away much of her ability to move.  Despite her condition, dance is still alive in her heart.

After sharing this film, the response was so positive and amazing.  The Abilities Expo, an event for people with disabilities, asked us to come perform this dance with Donna.  The expo is a celebration of what you can do and boy, is it inspiring!! 

On a concrete floor at the LA Convention Center, with no raised stage and no stage lights, we danced for a mostly wheelchair bound audience.  My heart filled with gratitude for the gift of life and the gift of dance, and I was humbled. 

The audience members were invited to join in learning a short dance with us after the performance.  All those who participated were in wheelchairs and I was so moved at how much passion, love, joy and openness was shared in their “restricted” movement.   

I was reminded of how healing dance is.  It connects us to our humanity, to our core.  It allows us an expression beyond words.  It allows us freedom!!  

Thank you to Donna for bringing me this opportunity and for my dance partner Kelleia Sheerin and choreographer Tam Warner.

Projects like these make me so proud to be a dancer, proud to be a human being. Gifts come in so many unexpected ways. 

And, check out what the dance team at Walk and Roll Foundation can do!!

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UPCOMING EVENTS