Why dance is supposed to make you a better person Shanta Serbjeet Singh Hindustan Times Saturday, June 24, 2006
‘A sound brain in a sound body’ is not just a saying. It encapsulates the spiritual wisdom of our traditional societies. We know now that every cerebral activity like reading, writing or solving a mathematical problem may be primarily concerned with the brain but also has a direct impact on the body. And the emotions, feelings and sensory reactions created by brainwork have a bear ing, however subtle, on the body and its health.
Similarly, every kind of exercise has an impact on the brain and the nervous system. There’s the direct effect when we plan and think about exercise. At the same time there’s the indirect effect due to the release of adrenaline and other chemical substances in the blood from exercising.
Classical dance involves both the physical and the neurological halves of the body and dance students develop such a high ability to remember, calculate and plan that their academic record, too, improves significantly. In Indian dance training, the skills that are imparted are almost universal: from control of the body in every position and movement, except climbing, to a heightened sense of the body in space and overall alertness. There is also the refinement of the fine neuro-muscular adjustments of a whole host of cooperating nerve fibres.
Now, the autonomous nervous system connects with the involuntary organs like the heart muscles, blood vessels of the respiratory system and the muscles of the digestive tract. Through connections that dance creates between the autonomous and the central nervous systems, the exercises of the skeletal muscles have a tremendous influence on them and heighten the balance between the reciprocal nerve fibres regulating the heart muscles, blood vessels and the intestinal tract. This indirect effect is very important in helping a child grow into a healthy adult, free from disease.
In his book, The Function of the Human Body, Guy A.C.C says: “Repetition is the great secret of success, to allow the whole coordinated performance to become smooth and satisfactory.” He talks only of sports and such activity. Dance scores over them because it combines in itself a host of skills like speed, stamina, dexterity, endurance and grace, normally attained by different exercises for each benefit. This not only saves time but, as dancers swear, comes with a high degree of genuine enjoyment enhancing a holistic spiritual connect. Especially since the source of the drive to dance is in the emotional mechanism, invaluable in the nervous organisation of man!