By Eszter Iván
Student Counsellor at IRIE! dance theatre
Recently the attention on taking care of ourselves and our mental health increased. Our mental health (including psychological, emotional, social wellbeing) is as important as our physical health. Our mind and body are in a relationship and in connection with each other. If our body changes or moves will have an impact on how we feel ourselves, how we experience our environment, and the other way round. That is one of the reasons dancing or moving is powerful and supports our mental and physical health, there are cultures and scientific researches to prove that too.
Personally, dance was part of my life since childhood, it helped to disconnect my family from their struggles, to connect myself with my Dad and overcome issues. In the moment of dancing all the problems seemed to disappear and only the joy, freedom, rhythm, and music were present. Dance helped to accept my own body and express the unspoken words. As Martha Graham says `dance is the hidden language of the soul`, dance or any the movement supports us to find a way how to express our emotions, ourselves and process them, to move them through and see what emerges, as a new movement unfolds.
At IRIE! Dance Theatre through the years I have witnessed how students express their own emotional stories in their final pieces and how it helps them to let go and be free again or how they can reconnect with their cultural roots or with different cultures.
However, I need to remind them to remember and revisit when the dance was just joy and fun. It was part of their own coping strategies to release stress, to feel more grounded, and to feel balanced. It is easy to forget not just as a dancer student but also for anyone, it is easy to get disconnected from our bodies. Mainly when we feel we cannot express, or we are not allowed to feel or experience. However, dance and our body can shape it by regulating emotions and reconnecting us with our bodies and with other bodies.
Now I invite you to have some music and express if mental health would be a movement or a dance style how would it look like. Enjoy and have fun, do not think just move to change.