Our brain is made up of hundreds of millions of tiny cells called neurons. Their connections are what help us to think, feel and do everything that we can do by sending messages from our brain to the body and vice versa.
Dancing is so much more than all the fun in the studio and on stage. It has the awesome ability to improve the functionality of your brain. Here are 4 amazing things that happen when we dance.
Neuroplasticity in the simplest terms is the ability for our brains to change and develop. Learning new things, builds different mental routes and paths to help increase our access to memories and stored information. Research has proven that people who dance have more complex neuronal synapses (more connections), slowing down the brain aging process. As we grow older, brain cells die, and these neuron connections weaken. The more complex and numerous your connections are, the better. Dancing frequently, is so effective with aging that it can reduce the risk of dementia (a brain degenerative disorder common in older people) by 76%!
Makes you intelligent
Intelligence according to Jean Piaget, the founder of cognitive development, is what we use when we don’t already know what to do. In other words, the automatic response to a given situation as the brain evaluates various responses and chooses one. To improve this type of decision making, we must engage in split-second, rapid decision making tasks. Dancing is a great example of instant response training: How fast do I go to fit the music? What leg do I step on? Which way do I turn? It is an excellent way to enhance and maintain intelligence.
Improves muscle memory
The process of “marking” steps (walking through movements, visualising the choreography) helps dancers memorise, repeat and achieve more complex moves fluidly. This skill is important for proprioception (the sense of movement) and muscle memory (the ability to move without thinking about it), This helps to reduce conflict between the physical (body) and mental (brain) aspects of dance.
The brain adapts to the rapid movement and fast spinning we do as dancers, reducing the signals that make us feel dizzy. With years of practice and training, dancers have the ability to suppress signals from balance organs in the inner ear and cerebellum. The cerebellum in the brain regulates movements such as posture, balance, and coordination. This, adaptation and supression of signals also helps the overall functioning of the cerebellum, resulting in smooth and balanced muscular activity ideal for dancing.
This learning and rehearsing during dance requires concentration and cognitive visualisation which can be used in other aspects of life.
Who knew dance could be so awesome?... we did!