Conveying emotions through movement pre-dates our ability to speak and the way we move and hold stillness offers a powerful link to the core self that sits beneath the cumulative layers of modernity.
Research has shown that our emotions can be successfully expressed and recognized through movement. Emotions, in turn, serve a powerful evolutionary function crucial to survival, as they deliver information about the friendliness or danger of our environment.
The contemporary self is moulded by experiences within our worlds. However, that modern identity doesn’t override the primordial system in our brains. Instead, it exists beside it, sometimes in harmony with it and sometimes at odds.
Survival in 2019 is quite different to the experience of our evolutionary forefathers. Yet, the instincts buried within our primal selves, and the automatic survival behaviours triggered by our brains, are relatively unchanged from way back when.
We still respond as we did thousands of years ago, yet our natural physical instinct to communicate those responses is often stifled. Consider the urge to fight, flee or freeze when your brain pumps into overload in stressful situations like, for example, a high pressured meeting. You can’t respond in the way your body wants to, so the bubbling emotions, and the physical results, are pulled back and pushed down. Where do they go? It’s interesting to consider what the effect of that might be.
For the most part, we don’t live in a world where spontaneous expressions of emotion, embodied physically, would be tolerated. In fact, in certain environments, such behaviour might be downright alarming for those around us – imagine for a moment an emotive physical expression of unbridled joy and jetes in the frozen peas aisle at your local supermarket.
Nobody is expecting you to try that…
What we are urging you to consider, however, is the effect that physical constraint of emotions might have on you.
Then, if it feels right, maybe carve out a little time and a safe space for yourself in your own world, with or without your people, to drop the caution of words, turn the music up, and let your unedited emotion tumble out.
Fancy fitting a bit of dance into your life? Check out our suggested dance vendors here.
References and further reading:
Rösch, F. (2017). The power of dance: Teaching international relations through contact improvisation. International Studies Perspectives, 19(1), 67-82.
Van Dyck, E., Burger, B., & Orlandatou, K. (2017). The communication of emotions in dance. In The Routledge companion to embodied music interaction (pp. 122-130). Routledge.