If you’ve watched “Madagascar,” you’re sure to have seen King Julien leading the jungle in a rousing chant of “I Like to Move It, Move It” while doing just that.
It turns out King Julien was onto something. If the iconic lemur were a scientist, he might have written a dazzling paper on what our ancestors already knew: Dance can help heal what ails you.
As it is, more and more researchers studying the healing power of rhythmic movement on people who’ve experienced trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or parental mental illness or substance abuse issues.
Among these researchers is Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston who advocates dance, drumming, walking and other rhythm-based movements to help kids with trauma.
In a book about trauma and the power of play, Perry explains that kids with developmental trauma can lose their ability to think when they feel threatened. This is because their fight-flight alarm goes off, he says, and stress chemicals quickly shut down their thinking brain (frontal cortex) as well as their emotional brain (limbic brain).