Creativity can be expressed in many different ways, through dance, art, music, and writing, but also through how we cultivate a garden, how we cook, how we rake leaves, and even how we walk a dog. Our daily tasks are creative in and of themselves, and hold so much insight. How we do these things, and how we feel in relation to them, speaks to every aspect of our lives, because we live in relation to all of our choices. Everything we engage in is a relationship. If we want to change the course of our lives, if we want to change ourselves, then looking at how we relate to our self-expression holds one of the keys to that change. Creativity can become a process of self-discovery, providing a safe, experimental place for exploration, risk-taking, and change (Gina Serraino)
Ageing Creatively Through Dance
Now for the good news: we are born with a 100 billion neurons and one of those is capable of making 10,000 connections. Every one of us continues to produce new brain cells until the day we die.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to constantly lay down new pathways for neural communication and to rearrange existing ones throughout life.
Use it or lose it, and now, we can now add: use it and grow some more.
Since the 1960’s, there has been a growing body of evidence that new nerve cells are born in particular regions of the brain throughout your life.
This natural birth of new cells in your brain is called neurogenesis.
Physical exercise, as little as three brisk walks a week, increases the size of the hippocampus, a key brain region important for learning and memory.
Aerobic exercise produces neurotransmitters:
- Serotonin, a natural feel good substance, with no side effects.
- Dopamine for learning, reward and motivation.
- Norepinephrine, increases alertness, concentration and energy.
In many ways the brain benefits from the same things we know are good for the body. It is just not as visible when your brain gets flabby!
Exercise reduces flab, it also reduces your risk of dementia, the best way to do it is through exercise and the best exercise is dance.
After studying 469 individuals, participating in 19 activities, for 5 years, Professor Joe Verghese and colleagues, concluded: dance is the only physical activity demonstrated to reduce the risk of dementia.
There are three factors known to reduce the risk of dementia:
- Physical activity,
- Social engagement and
- New Learning
Dance has all of these and adds creativity.
Sustained creative challenges can positively contribute to maintaining mental functioning, supporting the brain reserve hypothesis (Goldberg 2005; Staff et al 2004; Stern 2002).
We are not all artists but all of us have the potential to be creative. As with anything else, the first step is to begin. Embrace the concept, use your imagination, search for opportunities to engage yourself and others in doing or making something new.
The brain is not hard wired, it can and does change itself, every single day until the end of life, even if a person is living with dementia, her/his brain will make new cells.
Youth is a gift of nature… Age is a work of art.
We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.
See below – WaW Dancers feeling good after a heartwarming response to our performance of Artifice at the DanSCIENce Festival in Brisbane2015.