Monday, February 27, 2006

Modern Dance is the new Xanax

Abstract of a study found here:

The study investigated the effects of modern dance on anxiety. State anxiety was assessed before and after a 3-mo. education programme, using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The target group followed a class in modern dance. Control groups were (1) a physical education group to control for the effects of exercise, (2) a music group to control for aesthetic sensitivity training, and (3) a mathematics group. Several concomitant variables were measured: age, sex, attitude towards dance, and previous experience in sport, dance, and relaxation. Dance training significantly reduced anxiety, but no control activities did so. Examination of the concomitant variables showed that the result could not be accounted for by any obvious artifacts.

Though this study apparently focuses on the effects of bringing dance to nondancers (I don't have access to the full text), the implications speak to one of the reasons why "dancer" is as much an identity as a profession. I and many dancers I know will talk of dance as our therapy, our refuge, our safety net. And the idea of giving it up (a suggestion frequently and cavalierly made by some nondancing others in our lives) provokes feelings akin to withdrawal.

This is not a new study (1984) so perhaps it's time for it to be revisited: let modern dance take its rightful place with yoga, meditation, etc., as a mind-body healing technique.

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