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PTSD and the Benefits of Dance

Updated: May 1, 2021

I Dance Because is a series that celebrates dancers from all walks of life. Dance is more than flexibility and tricks. It is expression, acceptance and authenticity. Dance is not (and should not) be elitist or reserved for a certain type of body type or life experience.

Alex | Hip Hop Dancer | #IDANCEBECAUSE it helps me tackle my PTSD.

I grew up in a very violent household. As a child, I learnt that bodies should be used to hurt other people.

As I got older, I looked for ways of using my body positively. I tried martial arts, but it wasn’t for me - I needed something that had the discipline of martial arts, without the elements of combat and confrontation.

I started dancing eight years ago, when I was 32. I was horribly nervous, but taking class has taught me so much.

Having PTSD is tough – it pulls you out of the present moment. Dance class helps me conquer unhelpful thoughts by putting me in the right-here-right-now. It makes me realise that I’m still in control of my body.

Dance helps me separate myself from my PTSD – I can detach from internal thoughts. I dance for no-one but myself. In that moment, all I think about is the movement. A pirouette for example – you can’t think about anything else other than turning, or you’ll fall over.

My dancing comes from a place of celebration, but also of pain. There are moments when I’m dancing when it triggers a certain feeling. But dance allows me to address these feelings safely; I can acknowledge my emotions, without letting them consume me.

Toxic masculinity has done a lot of damage. At dance class, your ego will get beaten into the ground many, many times. And that’s a good thing. As a man, your ego is not your personality or identity. It’s OK to mess up, to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to feel vulnerable.

We are taught that vulnerability is weakness, but it’s not – it’s a strength. If you’re open, people respond to that.

PSTD is not something that disappears overnight. There will be days where things are bad, but I've learnt to work through them. The aftermath of your experiences won't always have power of you.

People look at me and think I’m wise, but this has been years of searching for answers. There’s been a lot of work to get to here.

I come across as this happy-go-lucky guy, but there is another side of me. I’ve seen such brutality in life... my mother being beaten... so I think it’s important I share my experiences.

Sadly, with PTSD, I know that I’m not alone.

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