I ran back through the gates of my hall of residence and immediately stopped. It was getting dark and the bright lights of the dining hall lit up the faces of my peers inside. I had no desire to join them. I was too pent up. Too nervous about exams, too on-the-edge with my friends. I had meant for the run to work off some of this restless energy, but it hadn’t.

I wandered left instead of my usual right, trying to avoid encountering anyone I knew. A staircase was barely visible in the gloom. Perfect. I could hide out on the roof of the dining hall for a while. No one ever went up there.

My iPod blared in my ears as I ascended the staircase and by the time I was on the roof I knew exactly what I was going to do.

I was going to dance.

I started off doing ballet barre exercises and worked up until I was full on leaping over the roof, spinning like crazy, letting out all of my emotions through this impromptu dance. It was basically the ballet equivalent of that scene in Footloose where Kevin Bacon dances out his range in the empty warehouse.


And it worked. I felt so much freer after that release. Because punchdancing is actually a thing. Only the professionals call it movement therapy, or dance therapy.

You might think of therapy as lying on someone’s couch and talking about your feelings. And dance therapy is kind of similar. The aim of talking therapy is to clarify your thoughts and feelings through discussion. Dance therapy just uses movement instead of words.

I think it’s a natural way to express yourself. When a baby or toddler can’t communicate with words, they express their emotions through movement. Hitting, kicking, stamping their feet, wriggling their body, and yes, dancing. Have you ever seen an adorable baby dance with joy? As an adult you’ve probably danced with joy, too! But you might not have thought to dance to release other emotions as well. I can tell you from experience that it works.

When I punchdanced out my moody adolescent gloom on the roof the dining hall, I felt so much lighter. Breathing heavily, I took my earbuds out and looked to the night sky to take one last refreshing breath of air before going back down the stairs and facing my friends.

Only instead of stars, I saw faces. Faces of people in the windows of the hall next door. They were all staring down at me. Some smiling, some with mouths agog. One even started clapping. But, oddly enough, I felt so light from my dance therapy session that I didn’t even feel embarrassed. I just smiled and hoofed it out of there.

When you next have pent up emotion, why not shut yourself in your room, put on some music and dance it out?

Or you could dance out in the open with teenagers staring at you from their windows. Totally up to you.

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