Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dance: One of the Eight Elements of Movement

So why are you drawn to dance?  There is a good chance that you have realized that you need music and dance in your life.  Perhaps you feel that music and dance helps to "process" all the difficult things you have experienced in life.  I am convinced from working as a  therapist with those who suffer from psychological trauma that graceful movement is essential for overcoming the mounting difficulties most mature adults endure during their lifetimes.   We need to move in order to remain psychologically resilient.  Being caged drives us mad.

Dance, the bodily reaction to music, is just one of the eight movements of our evolution and our childhood development.  Dance is the most powerful, but all of the movements can be practiced gracefully for a more robust psychological resiliency.  The other seven movements are:

The Eight Elements of Movement

Elements of Movement
Evolutionary examples
Child development examples
Life spawning in the seas.
In-womb experiences. Later, skill returning to water. The last exercise modality for the elderly.

Amphibious life.
The first freedom of movement for a child.

Ability to avoid dangers through climbing.
Toddlers climbing up before walking.

Breaking from our primate ancestors.
The most important development for independence/ mobility for children.

The ability to evade danger or to hunt by fast synchronization of movements.

Coordination of multiple motor abilities.
Survival Movements
Hunting, defending, eating, preening, making/using instruments (tools), self-/other-care.
Playful fighting develops to self-protection.  Being cared for develops to self-care in hygiene, eating, preening, etc.

Social Communication Movements
Communication through social intercourse, including: Gestures, posture, stances, courtship, and sexual communication.

Movements that convey with increasing sophistication how to be a part of a group and to convey what one wants.
The somatic response to internal or external musical stimuli which may include symbolic movements from any of the 7 elements above, especially social communication, survival movements and walking.

The child’s unlearned somatic response to music.  Pure dance, at times started in the womb or early experiences with rhythm.

A huge misunderstanding of the importance of graceful movement is shown by calling any movement an addiction.  "Tango junkies, "obsessive runners," "exercise addicts" are simply people overdoing a specific movement.   The problem is having only one pill in one's Resiliency Medicine Cabinet.  What if you purposely decided to practice all eight basic movements with mindfulness and grace?  Dance would be less likely an obsession because your RMC (Resiliency Medicine Cabinet) would be filled with eight different movement medicines!

How well are you at practicing other elements of movement other than dance?  This is part of my own New Year's resolution--to have a robust Resiliency Medicine Cabinet through movement.  Will you join me?

Comment at this link.


In the Part II on the Eight Elements of Movement, please join me in a reflection on the psychological power of expressing some or even all the other eight elements with grace.  You may have to find some children to practice some of them.  When was the last time you were on a swing with children or got down on the ground to crawl around with children?  In Part III, I'd like to explore what we are truly learning in a dance class and why it is so important.  Hint:  I think it is not how to dance!

Footnote for the Eight Elements of Movement:
I have given the above Eight Elements as I understand them.  I found no articles on generalized human movements, but these are my thoughts.  One physical trainer uses many of them for a complete workout, but I find no unified ideas on these basic movements.   I'd love to hear your ideas.  Comments at this link.

Photo credit of dancers at sunset:

Further reading:  Here is a great reference for music being truly a human trait:  The Power of Music