Friday, March 31, 2017

No Cure for Dance Phobias

There in no cure for dance phobias except by dancing.  The fear of dancing (chorophobia) has no special pill, no easy therapy, no healing magic wand.  Why?  Because chorophobia is often not even seen as being a problem. How can you cure a problem when it is not even recognized as one?  So, in other words, chorophobia does not even get a chance to be cured.

But there is hope for a restoration of how you were once a dancer as a child.  Let's call it your child within, who freely and openly dances when music plays. It is only later that many people become afraid to dance--especially in public. Many will never get over their fears WITHOUT YOU, someone who loves them. This post is about how to help someone you love overcome their "chorophobia"--the avoidance or phobia of dance.

Phobias--of any type--are best understood as illogical avoidances. The worst phobias are avoidances of the very thing that is good for you and your own survival.

Prepare to say to yourself that I am overstating the importance of dance.


"Dance is connected to your own survival, and what a shame if you are avoiding it."

Overstatement, right?

I truly do not think so from many years of working with movement therapy and speaking with thousands of combat vets, traumatized by war.  The somatic reaction to music (called "dance") helps people resolve the unending parade of tragedies that we see in our lives--whether it is family members who die, losses in our love lives or simply watching world news reports. We need music and dance because we are uniquely aware of the past, present and future like no other animals are. We need to be reminded that there is beauty in the world, and dance helps the mind "resolve" the ever-growing data that leaves many older people bitter and cranky. Do you know bitter and cranky dancers?  If you do, try to imagine how miserable they would be without their dance therapy! Now then . . . do we agree that we, the thinking primates need this unique skill of psycho-trauma mitigation?  If you do agree, here's a new motto for you as one who loves to dance:

Do not let a friend go to their grave with a dance phobia!
Perhaps you cannot help your fear-filled friends or family. So I hope you will try once more.  Here are some talking points when you lovingly attempt to motivate them:
  • Music/dance/communication helps the thinking animal remain stable and well.  Look at the historical evidence:  The slaves and later oppressed generations of the Americas demonstrated the importance of music/dance/communication as a way to survive the psychological trauma they endured.  Would they have endured without music and dance?  Tango, Samba, Mambo, Jazz and Negro Spirituals all came out of the psychological trauma of slavery and oppression. Cumbia in Columbia is still danced with the ankles together--the way slaves danced with their ankles in shackles.
  • Movement (not just "exercise") is the main way animals maintain mental well-being.  Human beings are no different.  Observe a caged animal or person going wild in their cages. Movement and especially dance is more than a nice "mood enhancer"--movement is required to not go mad.
  • Psychological trauma is best treated with a combination of music, movement and higher levels of communication.  Talk therapy by itself is often futile. Trauma is all about fear; don't let the very thing that cures fear be seen as a mere hobby!
  • Somatic reactions to music (spontaneous movements) are natural in human beings (not animals) and are the first developmental indicators of our humanity.  This is why children dance without instruction; animals need instruction, and even then then are not good at dancing.  Returning to your childhood's ease with dance is returning to a primary marker of your humanity.
If you love someone who doesn't dance, help them re-find the child inside of them who once danced spontaneously when music played.  They need this for their own well-being.

Comment or "like" Tango Therapist's Facebook page at this link or
Comment at Google+ Link to posts

PS:  If you have a partner and you want to motivate them to dance, you might want to take that person to a relationship therapist and phobia specialist.  But if you do, make sure you have the therapist read this. Most therapists will see dance as a hobby; so how could they possibly help you?  Find someone who dances and understands.
Photo credit:  Seek a therapist for social phobias.  Here is an example.