I have lived and breathed dance, theater, music, and art since I was three years old. As I grew up I began to see the arts in a different light. The arts became essential to my sanity. My body, mind, and soul were empowered by lyrical choreography, piano compositions, and guitar chord progressions– I couldn’t live without these things. The arts became familiarity amongst chaos and gentleness amongst harsh. How is it I can walk into my dance studio deep in stress yet leave deeply relaxed? How is it that my mindset can shift from one of tribulation to one of inspiration? I encourage you to delve into the exciting world of the healing arts.
People experience the healing power of the arts everyday by dancing, drawing, playing music, etc. Different therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, and dance/movement therapy are beginning to used in the medical field.
The Healing Science
Art and healing are joining and becoming one. Art can be defined as a creative expression through human application that produces and expresses a variety of emotions, ideals, and life events. The arts have been proved to have profound healing effects. They can immediately change one’s perceptions of their world, change emotional state, attitudes, and pain perception. The arts create hope and positivity, help people deal with difficulties, physical and psychological, and help maintain happiness through everyday life.
In the art world artists, choreographers, and musicians have found that the work they produce heals themselves, as they express their inner atrocities, as well as they provide others with a template to express themselves and be able to heal through. These healing methods through the arts now branch out to hospitalized patients, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, mentally and socially disabled children, trauma patients, premature infants, and essentially for any physical, cognitive, emotional, or social need.
Traditional medical treatment is even more powerful in combination with art, music, and dance. To utilize the fine arts, art therapists often work with patients who need strengthened motor skills, and instead of partaking in physical therapy the patient can be strengthened through the fine arts by doing activities such as drawing or painting. Situations like this are also possible with dance and music therapy, and they are highly utilized with the elderly whose motor and mental skills are beginning to diminish because music and dance engages their minds and bodies.
In the medical field music therapy, art therapy, and dance/movement therapy can be utilized to distract or reduce pain. All three can also be used with autistic children to help them build connections. Participating in a dance class, for example, would give them a social connection where talking is not necessary. Patients with mental health needs can use these therapeutic ways to calm anxiety and express their emotions.
Arts and healing is also quite prevalent in social work. Arts are often used with these kids to find deeper meanings. Younger kids don’t think about what they draw they just draw what sticks out most in their mind. A lot can be decoded from that. It also gives them a medium to speak through if they are fearful of using words. Many people would rather speak through the arts rather than expressing their feelings with words. Different arts provide different mediums for people to express their emotions. It is an outlet, an expression, and sometimes a cry for help.
I have witnessed the powerful effects of the arts. It is what people revert to in times of adversity. I am from Newtown, CT and tragedy struck my town on December 14th, 2012 as the Sandy Hook Tragedy occurred. My small town was shattered and my life changed forever. While in grief, the arts are what many turned to. Newtown had been inundated with art from around the world. These tangible gifts of love consisted of small paintings to life-size sculpture from around the world. So a few months after the tragedy the Newtown Healing Arts Center was opened to house all these tributes and pieces. At the official opening of this arts center I found myself lacing up my pointe shoes to perform a tribute piece with my dance studio called “My Beautiful Town” for state leaders and citizens still in mourning. Fittingly, it was Valentines Day and dancing in a room filled with love, surrounded by watercolors of angels and snowflakes, I experienced the enormous power of the arts to bring beauty, peace, and comfort even in moments where joy seems impossible to find. I could see others experienced some solace as well, smiling at us through their tears as we danced.
We see the arts everywhere, we heal with the arts daily. And now that healing is being utilized on a larger scale. People can vent their emotions, maintain happiness, express creativity, opinions, and emotions, and get their mind off of adversity through the arts.