Tanuja,39, was afflicted with diabetes and back-pain for many years. Her lifestyle had become sedentary even though she was a trained classical dancer. Dance-therapy came to her rescue and helped her revive her health. “Dance therapy was a wonderful experience. It helped me with my diabetes and completely eliminated my back-pain,” she said. Another dance therapy participant Ramya had a similar opinion. She took up dance therapy as an interest but reaped many benefits such as losing excessive weight. Dance forms such as Bharatanatyam and Kathak are widely known and appreciated as forms of art. But are you aware that these dance forms also have a therapeutic quality? Well, they do.
Dr A V Sathyanarayana Rao, Director of Shristi Institute of Dance Therapy, has discovered, researched and preached the healing quality inherent in Indian classical dance forms. A dancer for over 42 years, Dr Rao has been conducting workshops on dance therapy for around 12 years.
“Dance itself is a therapy. It is an integration of mind, body and spirit,” said Dr Rao.
While many western forms of dance therapy exist, Indian dance therapy is a psycho-therapeutic process that involves the grace and vigour of Indian classical and folk dance movements that are crafted into an innovative holistic therapy session.
It is capable of treating diabetes, stress, obesity and other lifestyle diseases. It is also safe and rejuvenating for pregnant women. “Pregnancy is an important phase in a woman’s life. Dance therapy eases the stress during pregnancy,” said the dancer.
When asked whether dance therapy can be an alternative to exercise and yoga, Dr Rao said, “Dance therapy is more than an alternative, as in most of the exercises and yogasanas only mind and body work. But dance combines the movements of body, mind, gives expression to the emotions and rejuvenates the spirit. It also uses imagination thereby instilling creativity in an individual.” Dr Satyanarayana Rao has carefully tailored workshops based on Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Manipuri martial arts and folk dance. This has helped many participants overcome health-related problems. Dr Rao’s therapy is not just a series of movements but an expression of a vibrantly choreographed story. People with depression and anger issues also reap benefit from this therapy.
Sanjitha Lahoti, a Kathak dance teacher by profession and a trainee under Dr Rao is looking forward to becoming a dance therapist. Lahoti said, “Though dance therapy has been established in recent years by Dr Rao, many dancers have little knowledge of its therapeutic effects scientifically. I only wish that more and more people, especially dancers, are made aware of the benefits. And I think I can reach out to people and provide them the benefits of dance therapy.”