What is the Biodanza System?
From a passionate desire to humanize medicine, to get away from the
stereotype of the sick patient and to enable peoples’ instincts to be
reborn, Rolando Toro Araneda devised a system using the universal
language of music which is capable of eliciting emotional responses, and
dance. He created a subtle combination of music, dance and exercises to
stimulate vitality, creativity and communication among people, calling
the system Biodanza because movement stimulated by the emotions has a
profound effect on our biology and, in fact, in our lives. Some
exercises stimulate the autonomic nervous system leading to either
stimulating or calming effects. Yet others are ‘enlightening’ enabling
participants to gain a deeper perception of themselves and their style
of communication with others. Toro’s hypothesis is that we have lost
much of our instinctive unity with ourselves and with nature, hence
Biodanza seeks to re-integrate people through the arousal of the
emotions of affection.
Because the exercises bring about psychological and physiological
changes in the body, cells repair themselves thus re-establishing
homeostasis. The original instincts with which we were born such as our
instinctive expressions of creativity, vitality and compassion may be
relearned within Biodanza classes. These changes are brought about
within a group through what Rolando calls ‘Vivencia’ (from the
German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey on his book The Essence of
Philosophy: Erlednissen). The word vivencia has no direct English
translation, but the best approxi-mation is ‘A vivid experience with
intensity’. It is an intense perception of being alive in the here and
now. There are five lines of interconnected Vivencias, each
designed to develop different aspects of the human being: Vitality,
Sexuality, Creativity, Affectivity and Transcendence.
Different Biodanza groups cater for different needs, for example
adults, the elderly, children, special needs such as Parkinson’s
patients, the mentally ill, drug and alcohol abusers, etc.
Psychological symptoms of the
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease increase under the effects
of emotional situations of conflict or anxiety. There exists a
neurological circuit in which the emotional and motor symptoms are in
feedback. The common depressive state of physical incapability has the
tendency of being progressive. There also exists a diminishing of the
immediate memory, of the capacity of thinking and the critic capacity.
The progressive feeling of uselessness emphasizes the depression. The
Parkinson’s patient suffers severe disturbances of his identity such as:
feeling of no value, tendency of dependency, alteration of judgment of
reality, difficulties of communication and lack of motivation of living.
His lack of affectivity deteriorates due to his motor and expressive
difficulties. The Parkinson’s patient is not only a motor ill person;
actually his own inner existence is severely ill (in the sense of
illnesses of the existence by K Jaspers).
The exercises of traditional rehabilitation are proposed to
activate walking, correct posture, stimulate movements of the legs
(bicycle) and global motricity. Other soft exercises of extension,
prehension and coordination facilitate the manipulation of objects.
The system of biofeedback and autogenic training are also utilized
with uncertain results or no results. The recommendation is that the
patients participate in activities of daily life due to the efficacy
that this has in rehabilitation of movement.
Rehabilitation of the patients
with Parkinson’s disease through the Biodanza System
The fundamental difference between the traditional approaches with
the approach of Biodanza is that with Biodanza the strong motivation to
move exists. The traditional rehabilitation of the patients of
Parkinson’s is mechanical, based on exercises imposed ‘from outside’ by
the therapist. These procedures include machines in order to exercise
certain movements. During a session of Biodanza the movements that the
patients make are ordered ‘from inside’, impulsed by an emotional need.
The movements that the patients make during a session are complex,
organic behaviours integrating the motor affective structure – (
Affective: The expression of affection. Motor: Movements integrating
feeling with movement )
The patient adjusts with the joy of rhythm or makes simple
movements of coordination in order to dance with another person.
Through certain exercises the patient is able to express a
diversity of emotions. To express in a safe environment through
different dances what they feel – integrating in this way ‘what I feel
and what I do’ because as we know sometimes the person feels something
and the body expresses something different. So the idea is to integrate
and unite in simple exercises this human possibility.
The challenge of moving himself into group activities stimulates
himself in order to make movements and gestures of interpersonal links.
The rhythmic dances (Jazz, South American rhythms etc.) increase the
humour, overcoming momentarily the depressive state. After a certain
time the humour levels increase and stabilize. The exercises of fluidity
eliminate progressively the extra-pyramidal hypertone. The emotions of
joy and affection activate the motor centres overcoming the tendency to
acinesia. To make a simple dance demands changes in the motor schemes –
the variation of the impulses of adaptation of each moment of the dance
possess a very high complexity to the simple mechanic exercises.
Finally, the affective contact within the group re-establishes the
communication and strengthens the consciousness of their own identity
severely threatened by the disease. The self esteem and confidence
increase progressively in each class when the patient can experiment
autonomy in order to move, to dance and to express.
Hypothesis about the possible
mechanisms of rehabilitation and healing of the patients of Parkinson’s
disease through Biodanza system
We have observed amazing cases of rehabilitation of patients of
Parkinson’s disease through the Biodanza system. The explicative
hypothesis belongs without a doubt to the field of psychosomatic
medicine. The starting point is the unitarian conception of the human
organism in which the psyche and soma belong to the same systemic
structure – the new stimulus of motor character induced by intense
emotions change the levels of responses of the central nervous system
and alter the production of neurotransmitters. This new stimulus can
generate collateral nervous circuits that reinforce each other
progressively by feedback, establishing new schemes for the motricity.
The neurochemic circuits induced by the emotions and by the new motor
behaviours can integrate and restore global psychomotor functions. The
motivation in order to act stimulates the cortical and cerebellum
centres. The studies of neurochemic anatomy of the ganglions of the base
has allowed to establish numerous neurochemic circuits and localized the
neurotransmitters that intervene as chemical mediators of the ganglions
of the base in connection with motor cortex.
Considerations of the possible
mechanisms that intervene in the rehabilitation through the Biodanza
Biodanza is a system of human integration, organic renovation that
facilitates the healthy organic functions and improve the quality of the
style of life through the progressive induction of intense emotions (Vivencias)
induced by music, dancing and exercises of group communication. These
dances and exercises are organized according with the theoretical model
based in biological, aetiological and psychological studies of the human
being. These studies have allowed us to have evidence that certain
exercises united with strong emotions have specific effects on the
organism. In this way exercises that represent a challenge have an
ergotropic (sympathetic, adrenergic effect). Exercises that induce
regression and relaxation have a tropotropic (parasympathetic,
Harmonizing exercises have an anxiolytic and tranquillizing effect
(Gaba effect). Euphoric exercises with sensual nuances have
anti-depressive effects, inhibitors of the OAM.
The proposal of Biodanza is not just to improve the inner states of
the patients or a simple mechanical way of movement – the real aim is to
give back to the patient the human condition, that is to say to make
them feel the healthiest and loving part of themselves and to express
it. We have received from patients treated with rehabilitation through
the Biodanza system very positive feedback due to the increasing
motivations towards life. Some patients without the possibility to
experience Biodanza suffer a very strong depression and a sort of
acceptance of suffering of the disease. Through the progress and process
with Biodanza the patients experiment during the class the connection
with oneself, having intimacy with their own bodies and necessities as
an ordinary man or woman and also the possibility to socialize and
relink with people with affection, increasing the poetic quality of the
expression among them-selves, giving a new vision of the human encounter.
Many of them have said that Biodanza changed their lives because it gave
a new perception of the life, more sensitive, more healthy with latent
talent that they discovered class by class. Biodanza offered the
possibility to connect with the group as a centre of energy that creates
equal opportunities of expressivity for all the members of the group in
a non- competitive and safe environment. For many of them Biodanza is a
re-discovery of life and a rehabilitation not just of Parkinson’s
diseases but as a hope for human rehabilitation at existential level.