In today’s era of globalisation, the world is becoming extremely competitive especially for the youth. In this rat race with time, children especially become victims of anxiety, stress, depression and panic attacks at a very young age. It has therefore become extremely necessary to find a means of recreation that not only refreshes the young minds, but will also make them healthy and strong to face the challenges of life.
One of the major sources of stress among youngsters is the desire to do well on the academic front. The highly demanding requirements of high performance and competition causes distress amongst students while performing at current levels. In today’s busy lives everyone understands the importance of recreation and digression, however, only a few are able to engage in activities that actually help in rejuvenation. Activities which don’t feel like mandatory exercises are accepted as better media for students to get free from all worries. Therefore, dance is an excellent collaboration of mental and physical fitness. Dancing is one of the hobbies that can unknowingly act as a stress buster. We often don’t realise the benefits of dance. A hobby for many, yet can be a medicine for many popular problems amongst youngsters.
In the competitive times that we live in, theoretically everyone understands the significance of recreation however very few find their true means to attain a sense of respite or spiritual tranquil. Caught in the cobweb of anxiety, tension, exasperation, inferiority complex and frustration, most people find it difficult to unwind.
In her thesis on how dance improves communication of a student, Mary K Corteville of The College at Brockport, says that the movements and postures are helpful in creating the right body postures and language. This is a critical need for teenagers as self-esteem builds confidence in them. The confidence derived through various postures, exhibiting of body language and communicating their ideas and feelings gives a sense of pride to the evolving adult. In fact, there are agencies across the globe that are now increasingly deploying dance as a medium for self-reliance and expression.
Rakhi Rangpariain’s doctoral work on Dace and Movement Therapy in India, submitted to Columbia College – Chicago, says that this area is just about beginning to gain importance in India. There is a continuous debate on the origin of Dance as Therapy. Research literature says that therapeutic treatment through dance begun in the United States of America and western dance form is the base to movement and therapy. It can be seen that the current trends of therapeutic treatment has its foundations in age old culture of the East too.
In almost every form, dance is a synthesis of acts of various human faculties. Such a synthesis, gradually and steadily programs the brain to seek interpretations to different stimuli and create suitable responses. Continuous practice of such mental activity, not only develops physical stamina, but also mental agility to create synchronous responses to various actions. Since, mental action is invigorated, this works almost like any medication that would stimulate brain function for specific purposes. Not only is the ability of the mental function improved, this also produces soft feelings and emotions that connect with various other elements in the surroundings of the dancer. The dances in Indian dance system have typically explained the emotions undergone by an individual. To explain the emotions, the centre point has been a God or a Goddess, generally called nayaka or nayika.
While the rhythm activates a certain part of the brain function, the physical action through hand and feet movements enhances the appeal through motion. To create complete connection with the lyrics or theme, the facial expression is added. Since there are multiple movements and actions, it is indeed appreciable how dance not only stimulates the performer but the viewer too. These pleasing senses create a sense of calmness in an individual and the impact on the brain to stay focused for longer spans increases. This is comparable to the effects of meditation and other forms of deep mental exercise. To understand the impact of practicing or frequently viewing dance on teenage stress, a small study was conducted in Delhi.
The study focused on students of classes 11 and 12 of premier schools. A majority of the students were involved in regularly performing dance or similar art forms and a few of them were regular attendees to such performances. 80 per cent of these students said that their quality of work improved after a one hour session of performing. Similarly, for about six hours after witnessing a performance, the students said, their ability to think differently improved. Another interesting dimension that came out of the study was that the performing students had lesser issues with completing work on time. They had a 30 per cent enhanced performance over the non-performing students. Confidence to face unknown questions increased as a result of performing or viewing. This was evident when the students responded if they were better off in handling “higher other thinking skills” questions after being involved in dance related activities than before.
These results are encouraging for schools to enforce dance as a key tool, rather as a field of study to stimulate student learning.