Why Dance?

Why Dance? 2017-10-23T02:10:52+00:00

Why dance? There are many reasons to keep dancing or to start dancing now? However, the most important might be the many health benefits of dancing. Moreover, there is more evidence than ever that dancing is good for both your body and your brain. It’s never too late to start dancing and begin reaping the benefits gained from dancing!

Is dance a sport? Misty Copeland

(Arsensio Hall appearance of American Ballet Theatre ballerina, Misty Copeland)

In addition, social dancing is a healthy, inexpensive,  social activity for all ages of people.  In fact, it is one of the few inclusive hobbies where all ages and types of people mix socially.  But, even the other types of dancing including competition dancing, dancesport and performance dancing are a healthy alternative to the gym.  In this article, we cover many of the major benefits of dancing. In addition, we include suggestions for ways to start dancing.

Dancing has taken center stage in American lifestyles through television dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars and Dance Moms. Additionally, the types of dance styles that are available have greatly increased.  Also, dancing has always been part of the entertainment industries of film, stage and movies. The names of famous dancers are better known than most politicians. For example, everyone has seen some movie scenes from classic films with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In recent years, movies with a dancing theme have been popular in the cinema including Take the Lead, Step Up, Black Swan and Shall We Dance with Richard Gere & Jennifer Lopez.

Shall We Dance (Tango Scene)

Richard Gere & Jennifer Lopez tango dancing

Newcomers to dancing have so many different ways to start these days.  The different types of dance include ballroom, jazz, hoop, aerial silks, folk, country western, Brazilian samba, social dancing and many other styles of dancing. Dancing is one of the healthiest hobbies and easily available to most people. It is unique with its mind body connection. Additionally, studies have shown that ballroom dancing, as well as, other forms like jazz, tango, folk and other styles may delay and/or prevention of dementia in later life.

What are the health benefits of dancing?

There are many benefits gained from dancing. For instance, dancing is beneficial to our physical, mental, psychological and social well being. These health benefits can be achieved through participating in dance lessons, both individual and group dance classes, practice dance parties and dancing at social dance venues. Also, participation in dance might be achieved through competition dancing, dancesport and performance dancing. For example, performance dancing might include showcases, exhibitions or team dance activities.

A couple that goes to dance competitions

Reasons  For Starting Dance Lessons

Physical Benefits

There is an abundance of studies that conclude that dancing has many physical benefits.  For instance, aerobic benefits are achieved through increased use of the  heart and lungs while dancing. In fact, studies suggest dancing might be better for our heart health than other forms of exercise like biking and treadmills (Italian study).  In addition, improved motor skills, coordination, weight management and balance. Additionally, since it is a weight baring activity there is a reduced risk of osteoporosis for dancers.

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that there was, ” a significant improvement in balance in the exercise group at the end of the exercise program, whereas the control group did not show any significant changes.” Also, the results showed a significant difference between the experimental group and the control group for improvement in balance. Maintaining or increasing flexibility as we age is important for reducing soreness or pain in the joints and muscles. Hence, it is crucial to participate in some form of stretching as is common in many forms of dancing.

West Coast Swing Social Dance Party

Pattie Wells’ DanceTime, 2013

Brain Boost and Other Brain Benefits

In recent years, there has been a plethora of articles about the brain benefits of dancing. While dancing we engage our spatial awareness as we move through space. Hence, there is a mind body connection that occurs while dancing.

Also, there are many articles suggesting that dancing is one of the best activities to delay and/or prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  In fact, cognitive skills seem to improve in elderly people when they start dancing. It has been suggested that dancing, more than any other activity, engages more parts of the brain at the same time. This makes sense since the dancer is responding to music (auditory), while moving through space (kinesthetic), engaging their body (physical) and participating in spatially awareness (brain).

Furthermore, many studies conducted on seniors have demonstrated improvement in cognitive skills and memory. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may improve your memory and delay or prevent you from developing dementia as you age.

Psychological Benefits of Dancing (And Dance Lessons)

Couple taking dance lessons

Psychological well being is another one of the many reasons to take lessons and start dancing. It has been shown to decrease depression and improve mood through the increase in endorphins.  It also serves as a great way to reduce stress through the physical activity, music and the socializing.

The social benefits are greatest in social dancing rather than dancesport or performance dancing. Many friendships are forged through taking classes, group dance lessons and attending social dancing activities.

What are the top reasons to take lessons?

Cinderella  – The Ball 2015

Dancing Viennese waltz at the ball

You can improve your fitness through hour long dance lessons in the form of classes or individual lessons, social dancing, dancesport or performance dancing. It is a great workout and a fun form of exercise (better than the gym). Also, it is more fun than the treadmill, weights, jogging or cycling. It definitely improves our physical bodies through improved muscle tone, strength, stamina, endurance and agility.

There are other aspects of dancing that are unique to dance as a sport. Many people ask the question,  Is Dancing A Sport? Some categories qualify as a sport, however, others are more like art. Some forms of dance allow a great deal of self expression and vast improvements in gracefulness.

Social dancing is a great form of recreation. Dancers socialize in a safe space participating in a healthy hobby and meet lots of people.  Moreover, social dancing is a for people of all ages. Also, most of the activities are inexpensive like group classes, workshops, events and social dancing venues.

Where can I find lessons, group classes and social dancing venues?

There are many ways to find a place to get started learning. For example, check Google for local studios, dance schools, adult educations classes and dance centers. Also, lessons are offered at various Elks lodges, nightclubs and recreation centers.  Additionally, one can find lessons and dancing  on cruise ships and in foreign countries while traveling for fun.

How do I get started taking lessons?

It is important to determine what type of dance style or genres you are interested in learning.  First decide if you prefer dancing solo, with a partner or in a group of dancers. After you have determined the right category, you can check out some of the different genres of dancing.

Dance Connection couple

A sample of types of dancing genres and styles

Solo Styles (Genres)

  • Aerial Arts, Silks, Hoop
  • Belly dance
  • Flamenco dance
  • Hip Hop
  • Hoop dance
  • Pole Dancing
  • Tap dance

Partner Dancing Styles (Genres)

Group Dance Styles (Genres)

  • Aerobic
  • Ballet
  • Clogging
  • Folk
  • Hip Hop
  • Irish Stepdance
  • Jazz
  • Line dance
  • Modern
  • Square dancing
  • Tap
  • Zumba

Tips Before You Start Dancing!

  • Get a check up and okay from your doctor before starting
  • Warm up before your lessons
  • Stretch to improve flexibility
  • Hydrate with lots of water (bring water with you)
  • Slowly build skills and endurance
  • Learn about frame, posture, balance as well as patterns
  • Watch dancing, in person or online
  • Plan to dance several times a week, if possible
  • Cool down after your class workout

Resources