A suggestion for adding to the interest and ambience of a Dance and Movement Therapy session is to introduce colour. We are all aware, unless we are colour blind, of its presence in Nature and the Man Made World. There are associations with Gods, priestly vestments, people's characters and distinctions between professions and trades. Without light there is no life. By day the Sun gives us light and by night the Moon. There is no way (thank goodness) that we can influence this natural cycle. Most people can only see the colors of the Rainbow. Others can perceive some of the colors of the next spectrum.

We don't need to go into the scientific complexities of light. Suffice it to say that it is part of a spectrum of radio waves. Red is the slowest and longest, blue the fastest and shortest. It seems that the human eye is capable of distinguishing 2,000 tints and shades and 1000 hues. Although the eye is able t make minuet distinctions in color there are many languages that have few names for colors. Perhaps it is only when a particular color has significance to a group of people that distinctions between variants of the color become necessary.

There are increasing numbers of documented experiments showing the effects of light and colour on the human body. Soviet Russian scientists claim that red light increases muscular activity, blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. Blue has the opposite effect reducing blood pressure and being helpful in cases of insomnia. Blue light is used in hospitals to treat jaundice in new born babies. It is said to be a good colour for children when teething or infection upsets them. It also leads to a decrease in blood sugar and seems to help in some cases of eczema. Yellow is said to cleanse the blood stream, stimulate the lymphatic system and energize the digestive process. Orange is believed to help with mental exhaustion and rheumatism. Green is supposed to help with asthma, hay fever, laryngytis and malaria. Violet is said to aid epilepsy.

These effects would seem to bear out to some extent the effects of the various chakras (a chakra is a whirling point of energy in the body) whose energies are all associated with a colour.

There has been some very interesting an hopeful work carried out with children. At San Bernardino County Probation Department in California aggresive and violent children are put in an 8 foot by 4 foot enclosure painted bubble gum pink. Apparently after 10 minutes or so the children calm down, stop rampaging about and usually fall asleep. The effect appears to last for some time. Even the colour-blind are apparently tranquilized by pink rooms!

I have always felt that the present day trend of dressing young babies in red and other brightly coloured garments if not a good one. These energies are overstimulating. The softer more loving energies of pink are more suitable as is the pale blue associated with baby boys.

The Sunfield Childrens Home at Stourbridge, England treats disturbed children through colour or chromotherapy as it is also known. In Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Schools class teachers paint classrooms to reflect the "soul mood" of the children at their particular stage of development. The first year classroom is always red.

Aura Soma oils contain the essence of distilled plants, herbs and other ingredients in oils of the most heavenly coloours. Just looking at the bottles lifts the spirits and brings a feeling of well-being. There are seven oils for each of the principal stages of development.

I put a bottle of Aura Soma oil in the bedroom of a friend who had a rare and usually fatal form of cancer. Over time the oil developed floating debris and clouded over. The friend made a miraculous recovery. I hasten to add that the oil was used as a complementary therapy to surgery, drug and vitamin treatment.

Natural light changes during the day. Artificial light is statica and does not have the same effect on us as natural light. In fact it can make us tired and tense. It is no surprise that people in industrialized nations are rediscovering the healing, soothing effects of candlelight.

We instinctively understand the power of colour to influence out mood. When we feel "blue" we look for colours tro cheer us up. On the other hand when we are angry we seek cool colours to help us dissipate this emotion. Employing color to create a certain mood in gardens is very much the trend at the moment.

Colours are used to express certain qualities. someone my be described as "red-blooded" or as having a "yellow streak" meaning the person is a coward. We talk about someone being a "greenhorn" if they are inexperienced or being "green with envy". Black has a particularly bad press. We have "black magic", "black despair" as just two examples.Perhaps black is viewed as a negative because it absorbs the light leaving us "in the dark" and without light the Planet will die and with it us.

Colour doesn't just have an effect on our mood it is becoming ever clearer that it also influences our physiology. Insufficient sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiency and ill-health. Our skins creates vitamin D when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Fears of skin cancer have led to the use of sun blocks which protect the skin but is bad for natural vitamin D production. Vitamin D helps calcium absorption, helps fight cancer and diabetes and is necessary for a hormone which protects muscle. People of colour find producing vitamin D harder because their skins dark pigment filters out much of the sun's ultraviolet light. (Understanding Vitamin D Deficiency by Janet Raloff)

I am not for a minute suggesting that you try and give your child with special needs colour therapy treatment. That requires a specialized, properly trained practitioner. I am just suggesting that it might be helpful to try and incorporate colour and fragrance into your Dance and Movement sessions. There are many ways of doing this - the most obvious ones being clothing and accessories. You know your child and will think of numerous ways of introducing this element into your sessions.

I found that children sometimes became so fascinated by the color of the objects that they were supposed to be dancing with that they were unable to move. At the time I found this slightly awkard as it held up proceedings. On reflection these children perhaps knew what they needed better than I did.

Linking into colours deepens our sensitivity to the world and its peoples. Do try and incorporate this sensitivity into your life!

Author's Bio: 

Dzagbe Cudjoe is a Dance Movement Therapist and ethnologist with wide experience of Dance in Africa and Europe. As an ethnologist her main field of research was into West African traditional religion. As a Dance Movement Therapist her area of specialization was working with children who had challenging behaviour or severe physical and intellectual Special Needs. Dzagbe is now working on helping the parents of such children to appreciate the healing effects of dance. She is the author of the e-manual "Dance to Health - Help Your Special Needs Child Through Inspirational Dance." For more Information visit Dance to Health