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The Healing Power of Dance: Expressing Emotions, Empowering Minds

Updated: Jun 10

Dancing is a conversation, a language beyond words. It's the way we express ourselves when our words fail us.

Think about it: every step, every gesture tells a story that words alone cannot capture. This is where choreography steps in, transforming music into a visual experience that speaks directly to our hearts. But the question lies: how exactly does music – a mere collection of sounds – evoke such powerful emotions? And how does choreography amplify these feelings? In a world where social stigmas obstruct the realities of mental health from coming to light, dance can serve as a powerful medium for an expression of the mind and an exploration of these mental challenges. 

 There are various interpretations of Sia’s Elastic Heart music video. Some say it’s about inner conflict, while others see it as a battle against depression. Regardless of the intended meaning, the choreography within the video is what tells this story.

The video itself shows the two dancers ​​– played by Maddie Ziegler and Shia Labeouf – locked in a cage and through their acrobatic movements, the choreography depicts an intense fight scene between them. Their “battle” speeds up and slows down in intensity, and approaching the end of the video, Ziegler can escape the cage as she pleases, while Labeouf is still trapped, and now basks in his own loneliness and defeat. Each choreographed movement in this video conveyed storytelling elements that serve as a visual metaphor for themes of abuse, mental illness, betrayal, etc., and although the interpreted meaning of this story varies from person to person, it still conveys a meaning that resonates with them on an individual level. 

Dance is art, and art itself does not come with a meaning, rather, it is the viewer that gives it a meaning. The subjectivity of dance is what makes it so powerful as each viewer finds their own truth within it, resonating with the story on a personal level. Thus, Sia’s Elastic Heart music video is the epitome of choreographic storytelling – exploring the challenges many face in their daily lives. It's a reminder that we're not alone in our struggles and that there's strength in vulnerability. Through the art of movement, individuals can externalize their inner struggles, finding solace and understanding in the rhythm of the music.

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice's silent dance on Strictly Come Dancing stands as a touching example of how movement can be used to convey powerful messages of inclusivity. Rose Ayling-Ellis is an actress and model who has been deaf since birth and competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 with duo partner Giovanni Pernice. Their most notable performance was a tribute to the deaf community to the sound of Clean Bandit’s Symphony. It was already astonishing to see a dancer who was unable to hear the music, able to stay so in sync with only the guidance of her partner to direct her movements. However, it was even more emotional when about halfway through the choreography, the music purposefully cut out for about twenty seconds as Ayling-Ellis and Pernice continued to guide each other through the movements and stay in sync with one another. The two dancing in complete silence was incredibly heartwarming, however, the moment before the silence was even more remarkable. Ayling-Ellis covered Pernice’s ears and then, for the first time ever, she led him. She invited him into the sound of her world and guided him through the silence, and this world wasn't filled with sadness or fear, rather, they both kept smiling and dancing.

Music may be the heart of the experience, but choreography is its soul. It adds depth and dimension to the melodies, turning them into stories beyond the screen or stage. Through movement, emotions are magnified, making them easier to understand and feel. And in doing so, dance becomes a powerful tool for empowerment, challenging stereotypes and amplifying marginalized voices.


So next time you watch a dance performance or music video, pay attention to the choreography. It’s not just about the steps; it’s about the stories they tell and the emotions they evoke. And in that shared moment of movement, you might just find a piece of yourself reflected back. In the language of art, we find healing, connection, and hope.

What's your favourite way to express yourself?

  • Singing/Dancing

  • Photography

  • Drawing/Painting

  • Other (let us know in the comments!)

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