Move More; Dance More

Nearly two years ago, I began a journey into a more integrative approach to understanding the mind and body (you can read my early thoughts in this blog post).  I have continued to engage with research about neural integration and development.  It has changed how I structure my dance classes and even how I think about dance in general.

I recently saw a post from Rae Pica where she expresses her own concern: “If schools aren’t devoted to children’s health – to taking care of their bodies, as well as their brains – then I fear for the future.”  This aligns with concerns Anne Green Gilbert expressed when she observed what she calls unhealthy brains[1] that have come as a result of children being confined to seats with their gaze fixed in one position – predominantly staring at a screen.

Now we have had to manage a global pandemic and its impact on minds and bodies.  Preliminary research has shown that infants born during the pandemic have been adversely affected in gross motor, fine motor, and communication skills when compared to their pre-pandemic born peers.[2] Research into the affects of the pandemic on children will continue and will provide additional insights into the affects of the pandemic on children.  Anecdotal evidence from my dance colleagues is that behavioural issues with dancers have escalated and I do not believe we need to wait on researcher conclusions to take action now.

If, as Anne Green Gilbert observed long before the pandemic, children were coming into her studio with unhealthy brains, then what dance teachers are facing now is a tidal wave of brains that have been even further confined, with extended exposure to screens.  I believe this is true for all of us, regardless of age.

This post is a call to all of us to move more.  A few months ago, I read about a study where they performed an MRI brain scan of a seated person and then immediately after they stood up. It was a remarkable difference in brain activity. Research has also shown that standing improves response times to questions asked.[3]  It’s really a very small thing to stand up; imagine the difference moving more, or even dancing more can make to a person’s overall well-being.

At Kaleidoscope Studio we offer a range of Irish dance and specialized movement classes designed to help you move more! Come, stand up, and dance with us.

[1] Anne Green Gilbert, Brain-Compatible Dance Education, 2nd Edition (Reston, VA: Human Kinetics, 2019), 4.

[2] Melinda Wenner Moyer, “The COVID generation: how is the pandemic affecting kids’ brains? Child-development researchers are asking whether the pandemic is shaping brains and behaviour,” Jan. 12, 2022, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00027-4#:~:text=The%20infants%20born%20during%20the,using%20an%20established%20questionnaire)1 (Accessed November 30, 2022).

[3] Neha Krishnam & Angelique Guina, “Stand Up for Your Brain” May 31, 2019, https://greymattersjournal.org/stand-up-for-your-brain/#:~:text=This%20specific%20study%20measured%20whether,approximately%20120%20milliseconds%20%5B10%5D (Accessed November 30, 2022).

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