A new book, Dance Wise, by internationally celebrated dancer and choreographer Stefan Freedman explores the science, psychology and healing powers of dance.
When the Covid pandemic prevented Stefan from continuing his busy programme of teaching Circle Dance around the globe, he turned instead to writing. This extraordinary book is the result, presenting 38 years' worth of experiences and insights, demonstrating how dance can assist in recovery from trauma, addictions, and stroke, and even bring healing to fractured communities.
Stefan combines research from the fields of brain science, neurology and psychology, linking with timeless parallels from mythology and folklore, presenting the whole with a dash of humour. The book has immense implications for mental health, but can equally be used to help inspire first dance steps in young children, and even in adults who think that dance is beyond their grasp, with fun, imaginative and simple-to-follow activities.
The book is accompanied by a resource-rich companion website: dancewise.net
Stefan writes: "Dance has been a surprising and powerful therapeutic path for me, with life changing discoveries along the way. This gives me the inspiration, as a 68 year old in the ‘harvesting’ time of my life, to chart the journey and pass on as many useful insights and tools as I can do in one book."
Dance Wise includes cover and vignette illustrations as well as freestyle brushpen hand-lettering by artist Lois Cordelia, created specifically for the book. Lois is an avid dancer herself, and most of her artwork is directly or indirectly inspired by the expressive freedom of movement that she finds in dance. She was delighted when Stefan asked her to create a series of illustrations for his new book, which was, at the time, still in the process of evolving. Lois resonates deeply with the themes, imagery and messages of Dance Wise.
The proverbial wise owl appears on the cover of the book - arguably a surprising choice of imagery for a book about dance. Do owls dance? It would appear so. Both Stefan and Lois are self-confessed night owls.
Dance Wise is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle (e-book) form. Order your copy today.
Stefan and Lois have previously collaborated on a number of music, art, film and fundraising projects, including Malka, a film dedicated to refugee children, which has travelled around the globe since its Ipswich premier in 2016, being screened at more than a dozen international film festivals. Malka has touched the hearts of diverse audiences and cultures through the universal languages of music, song and visual art, and raising several thousand pounds for refugee support charities in the process.
Stefan Freedman (second from left) and Lois Cordelia (far right), with Andy Mapplebeck and Adrian Lush (middle), with some of the musical instruments and visual artwork for Malka, 2016 (photo credit: Tony Mounter, with kind permission)
More recently, Stefan and Lois collaborated on Land of No Today, a 75th birthday tribute song to Bob Marley, premiered in Ipswich in February 2020, a few weeks before lockdown. The launch event continued the fundraising efforts of Malka, helping to raise funds for Suffolk Refugee Support.
Both Malka and Land of No Today have inspired their own dance choreographies.
Stefan and Lois are both connected with local Ipswich and Suffolk based charity Inside Out Community, promoting arts for mental health and wellbeing. Inside Out Community is one of the case studies referenced in Stefan's new book to demonstrate the healing potential of dance.