Biodanza is not something that can be explained in words. It needs to be danced and experienced. Some people have described it as
- a dance and movement system that has therapeutic effects
- a creative and expressive arts system that is fun, social and active
- a system of education reawakening our individual potential
- a medicine for life, which reduces stress and increases well-being
- a fusion of the arts, science and love
- a system for social change
Perhaps the best way is to go back to its source. Rolando Toro Araneda, the creator of the Biodanza system, was once asked in an interview,
How would you describe Biodanza? Is it a physical therapy? A system of growth? A creative exercise?
Here’s what he had to say, “Biodanza is more than all of these! It addresses the totality of the human being. It doesn’t separate people into fragments. Biodanza has many therapeutic effects, but these are not the goal.”
“The word Biodanza has two parts, bios (life) and danza (meaningful movement). So Biodanza is the possibility of dancing our own lives, of bringing music, rhythm, harmony and emotion into our communities and personal lives. Biodanza is different from conventional dance because it’s a guided discipline that stimulates specific aspects of human potential, such as creativity, affection, vitality, and so forth, through different sets of movement to music exercises.”
Biodanza was created in the 60s as a system of human development based on the belief that the desire for positive life changes can motivate people to develop their highest human qualities and potentials.
What drove Rolando Toro Araneda to create Biodanza
In his words, “The factors that drove me to create Biodanza are many but can be encapsulated in two. First, my own concerns about what was happening at the time. The WWII, massive destruction of large populations, the atomic bomb, the bombing of undefended towns, countless deaths during the holocaust, the unbelievably perverse behaviour of human beings. On the other hand, I was also experiencing wonderful things, like love, connection with nature, the beauty of the sea, and other experiences which could be described as heavenly. These two aspects, one terribly destructive, the other incredibly constructive, presented a metaphysical conflict.”
Biodanza was born out of one man’s desire to create a more humane world where people could enjoy healthy, creative and loving lives in thriving communities – in short, a life truly worth living.
Here is a little about Rolando Toro Araneda
- He qualified as an Elementary School Teacher in Santiago in 1943. He taught pupils in Valparaiso, Talcahuano, Pocuro and Santiago (Chile), between 1944 and 1957
- In 1964, he graduated from the School of Psychology at the Pedagogical Institute of the University of Chile.
- In 1965 he was appointed Professor of the Centre of Medical Anthropology, School of Medicine, University of Chile, and worked there until 1973. In parallel, he conducted research on violence in penitentiary centers in Santiago. He also belonged to the Research Institute of the Psychiatric Hospital of Santiago.
- In 1966 he was appointed Professor of Psychology and Psychology of Expression Art at the Institute of Aesthetics at the Catholic University of Chile.
- Between the years 1968 and 1973 he began his experiments with Biodanza (called during this period “Psicodanza”). He applied this system at the Psychiatric Hospital of Santiago and at the Aesthetics Institute of the Catholic University of Chile.
- In 1974 he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he applied the Biodanza System in patients having undergone a mastectomy at the Argentine League for the Fight against Cancer.
- In 2001 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Biodanza and Biocentric Education at the Casa de America, Madrid, Spain.
- In 2006 he was named Doctor Honoris Causa of the Federal University of Paraíba (Brazil).
- In 2008 he was appointed Professor Emeritus by the Metropolitan University of Peru.
- He was also a poet and painter, and has made exhibitions in Brazil, Italy and France. He has published books of poetry and psychotherapy that have been translated into several languages.
- Rolando taught Biodanza until he died on February 16, 2010, at age 85, in Santiago de Chile.