Peter's new book, Dance Yourself Happy, will be published in 2019
Dance Yourself Happy
is a book for people who want to be happier.
The Doctor Dance approach in Dance Yourself Happy is based on the underlying assumption that we are born to dance. There is a considerable body of evidence to suggest that dancing can change the way people feel and think, it can change a person’s self-esteem and it can temporarily relieve some of the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders. But dancing is much more than that. We communicate through dance and body movement, such that the way we move might be influenced by how we feel and, remarkably, we can recognise a person’s emotional state from the way they move their body. We dance with our body and we use our mind to interpret bodily signals but what’s more, our subconscious movements and the way we dance is influenced by our hormonal and genetic makeup. So dancing brings together our body, our mind and our hormones, no wonder dancing is such a powerful activity that can make us feel fabulous.
Dance Yourself Happy is about dancing; shaking your tail feather and feeling the groove. Each chapter in Dance Yourself Happy includes a specially designed, and scientifically choreographed, dance routine that will help people become happier. Each dance routine is broken down and demonstrated by Doctor Dance himself. There is a basic level of description for each routine. There is a also a chair-based description, so people who cannot stand can dance too, and there is an embellishment section so that people can add a bit of choreographic sparkle as they feel more confident.
Dance Yourself Happy, an excerpt:
"A woman in her late thirties used to come to my dance classes. Each week she would arrive ten minutes before the class began and I would ask her the normal “new student” questions: had she danced previously? Did she have any injuries? Each week she would tell me that she had been the previous week and we would laugh. This happened four weeks in a row. The studio I was teaching in had a mirror and I would teach some of the class facing the mirror. As I scanned the people in the class there was a women I didn’t recognize, a woman I hadn’t seen at the beginning of the class. As I turned to face the class, and everyone stopped dancing, I recognized her. It was the same woman.
I started to watch this woman carefully, trying to understand what it was that made her so forgettable. Then it became clear. When she danced she came alive. Her eyes were bright and her body shone. She appeared taller and her arms flowed. She was relaxed and she moved with light-footed steps. When she danced she was beautiful and she looked content.
A few days later I drove past her in the street. She looked tired, anxious, and worn down. Her shoulders were rolled forward and she walked awkwardly and heavily.
When she arrived at class the next week I recognized her at once, a drab dull woman, and I watched her through the mirror until I witnessed the moment of transformation. She came alive again when she started to dance. She connected with herself and I saw her grow. At that moment I saw the power of dance connect someone with their psychological and physical being. The result was clear. She was beautiful when she danced.
I am a psychologist and an expert in the transformative power of dance.
I have witnessed the transformation in hundreds of people. I have seen it in men, women, the old and the young. I have seen it in people who have danced for many years and I have seen it in people for whom dance is a new experience. I have even seen it in businessmen who have previously told me that they don’t and indeed cannot dance. The transformation is not about how good a dancer someone is or about any particular style of dance. I have seen the transformation occur in people when they have been dancing freestyle in nightclubs and when they have been dancing as part of a dance class. I have seen it in classical dance forms such as ballet and Indian Classical Dance, I have seen it in modern dance forms such as Jazz, Tap and contemporary dance, I have seen it in forms of couple dancing such as ballroom and Latin dancing, and I have seen it in social dance forms such as line dancing. What all these forms have in common is that elements of movement can connect people with their psychological centre, and in some cases connect people with other people, and this has a very powerful effect.
I have seen this transformation make people look beautiful. But it is not about beauty in a physical sense. It’s about the kind of beauty you show when you are happy, content, worry free and living in the moment, the here and now. Dance connects people with the here and now. A ballet teacher of mine once said that “dance is movement, and movement is life”. In this sense it is the life, or essence, of a person that is shown when they dance and it is this that is perceived as beautiful. The beauty that is visible through dance has nothing to do with the size or shape of your body. Everyone can dance and everyone can feel beauty.
The reason you are more beautiful when you dance is because of the psychological and physical changes that happen to you while you dance. The psychological changes refer to your emotions and what you are thinking. The physical changes refer to the control you have of your body.
In this book you’ll dance with me as I describe the psychological and physical changes that happen as a consequence of dance. I describe these changes from a scientific perspective and in a way that you’ll understand. I will describe how our psychological states can be understood in terms of both our mental processing and our emotions. Our mental processing refers to what and how we think, the positive effect of reducing anxiety and not thinking about problems in everyday life, and of focusing on the self and living (moving) in the immediate moment, the here and now. Our emotions can be understood from two angles. Inward emotions describe how and what we feel. People report a wide range of emotional responses to dance. Some people cry, feel proud, happy, or laugh when they dance. Some people get very severe and intense. These are internal feelings that are experienced when people dance. I will also describe how dance changes our physical state because during dance we control tension and relaxation in certain key places around our body and we move with a different purpose. I will explain how our psychological and physical states are intimately related and describe how making a change to one of them will lead to a change in the other.
We are more beautiful when we dance because when we dance we change the way we think, feel, hold and express ourselves and because other people naturally perceive those changes."
Excerpt from Dance Yourself Happy by Peter Lovatt, due to be published in 2019
Copyright Peter Lovatt 2018, All rights reserved.