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The power of dancing

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What if jiggling your body on music could change your emotional state? Did you ever think dancing tango could increase your creativity? Or that by moving your body freely on a daily basis you could boost your self-esteem in an unprecedented way?

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This is what psychologist and dancer Peter Lovatt says in his unconventional presentation on good moves. “If my mood was ever low, then dance would lift my mood.” he says. Also: “Dance gives me a boost that nothing else gives me.”

Having worked as a professional dancer for a few years, he then went to study psychology, so that he could study and teach how moving our bodies can help us change our mind patterns and moods. Now he teaches psychology at Hertfordshire University (UK)  where he  runs The Dance Lab, a place where he studies the psychology of dance and dancers. Also, Lovatt hosts a 2 hour Dance Night as part of the Physical Education Program at The School of Life.  Find out more about the studies and enjoy the presence of  this countagiously happy man:


“Your body posture changes the way you think about problems. It influences the decisions you make in life even after one minute. ” 

First, he asked the people attending his conference to take part in a scietific test. He split people in two groups and asked one to stay in a power pose (leaned back, with arms up, holding at the back of the head) and the other one to sit in a low power pose (with their legs crossed and arms folded) for 1 minute. After that he offered to give everybody 12 pounds and a dice, so that by gambling they could either lose their money or gain double. When he asked who was interested in the dice, more people who sat in the power pose raised their hands, showing interest, while the others, who stood in the lower power pose, showed no interest.

He states the same experiment was made in a scientific lab, where scientists found out that:

  • for the the people who sat in a high power pose, the testosterone level increased and their cortizone level ( a stress hormone) went down. Also they showed a greater level of taking risks and making decisions. 
  • for the people with  a lower power pose, the testosterone level went down and the cortizone went up.


When people dance it has a major impact on how they feel about themselves. 

It seems that ballet dancers have much lower self-esteem than non-dancers. It might be because people with low self-esteem get selected into ballet or because the ballet training itself makes people lose their self-esteem.

Also, Mr. Lovatt says that young teenage girls have a very high dance self-esteem. At 16 or 18 their confidence drops. Then it grows again from 20 to 25,35 to 60, when women lose their body confidence again.

For men, a different thing happens. They start with a very low self-esteem and then it rises and rises so that when they’re in their 40s they feel really confident about their dancing abilities. When they reach 60-65 their confidence goes up through the ceiling. Thet’s why we see so many old men dancing so happily.

Different types of dancing lead to different types of moods. 

A study made on different types of dance revealed that:

  • when people were engaged in contemporary dancing, they did not change their moods for the positive
  • when people were engaged in a relaxed contemporary dance, they become more positive
  • when people dance a very relaxe-no-rules dance , they feel very free to express and enjoy themselves

Certain types of movements influence the thinking in certain ways. 

He states that moving in certain patterns has some special effects on creativity. A study experiment was made on this: people were asked to walk in squares while others in random circles. Then, they were asked to think about what they’ll eat next week. It turned out, people who walked in random circles had a bigger creativity and came up with more recipes than people who walked in squares.

Also, people who were asked to improvise in their dancing turned out to have a bigger ability to think convergently than people who danced structured dances with rules. Instead, the second group showed an increased ability to think mathematically.

By simply moving in a new, unplaned way has an impact on our thinking. It releases our minds from set patterns of thinking. It seems that the way we move can help us solve puzzles: mathematical puzzles, verbal puzzles etc…

Could body movement be introduced in school learning? 

He raises the question if,  by knowing this, it would be posible that body movements be introduced in learning chemistry or mathematics so that children could develop their convergent or divergent thinking?

There is no difference between the mind and the body

Dr. Lovatt states that his studies are also good to show that there is no separation between the mind and the body, like we were taught in school. He says that we should celebrate our bodies and enjoy them all the time.  By moving our bodies we can change our moods and also increase our creativity and ability to learn new things.

Let’s get groovy!

Comments (1)

  1. […] A psychologist and dancer, Peter Lovatt, says that “Your body posture changes the way you think about problems. It influences the decisions you make in life even after one minute. ” According to the research he has done regarding posture/behavior and emotions, dancing or doing particular kinds of movements even if it is only for 60 seconds, can boost your mood (Lotus Pocus Focus). […]

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