As dance aficionados can attest to the fact that attending a dance performance can be a truly invigorating experience. From the dancers’ flexibility and rhythm, to the lavish costumes and mesmerizing music, dance presentations have a vast appeal with plenty to offer to those of varied tastes.
But despite the visual “wow” factor, we asked ourselves why should dance be limited to a spectator sport for non-professionals who enjoy the art form? Surely there are many benefits to individual’s participating in dance, as opposed to just sitting back and watching. To this end, we’ve dusted off our pointe shoes in order to point our readers in the right direction on what experiencing dance first hand can offer.
1. HEALTH & FITNESS
Something you will never experience by merely watching a dance performance, as opposed to taking a dance class or just dancing for fun, is a good old-fashioned cardiovascular workout to get the blood flowing and the calories burning. Not only will dancing help to reduce your blood pressure, lower harmful cholesterol, and increase your flexibility and muscle tone, it will also help you lose weight, making that tutu fit too, too well! Just to give you a few examples and an approximate idea of how many calories you can expect to shed in an hour, per dance type: Salsa burns 405 to 480, Ballet burns 380 to 450, Swing 300 to 550, Ballroom dancing between 150 and 320, Tap zaps 200 to a whopping 700 an hour, depending on pace.
2. SELF-ESTEEM BOOSTER
Professional dancing obviously requires confidence, especially when performing in front of an audience. While your goals might not include gracing the Broadway stage, taking dancing classes or just hitting a dance routine regularly or on the dance floor of your favorite night spot, is enough exercise to release beta-endorphins into your blood stream. These, in turn, increase feelings of well-being. And the awesome side benefits? The regular aerobic exercise helps to contour your body and the increased stamina and strength does wonders for your self-assurance when you walk into a room.
3. EXPOSURE TO NEW CULTURES
One of the many wonderful aspects of dance is that it transcends all cultures, bridging societal differences with the commonalities of artistic expression. Classes in Tango, Flamenco, Belly Dancing and others open the door to cultural exploration, not only in the dances of other countries, but also in their foods and customs. You will surely be inspired to take in some delish Latin food after a heavy session of Salsa dancing, for instance. And the great thing is you also get the opportunity to meet others from varied backgrounds, while all coming together in an enjoyable and social activity.
4. CREATIVE OUTLET
Divergent thinking is a key factor in creativity, and dancing promotes this wonderfully. Sometimes it’s difficult to find regular opportunities to exercise the imagination, especially if you spend most of your day at a non-creative job. Through dance, you can flex your creative muscles and feed your inventive side. Dance allows you to come up with your own routines, and lets your body channel your ideas without worrying about strict limitations or deadlines. Improvising and experimenting with new moves on the dance floor is definitely a creative highpoint that’s very achievable.
5. TRANSCEND GENDER ROLES
When considering dance classes, your gender shouldn’t be a determining factor. Traditionally, there are many examples of defined gender roles in dance, particularly in ballet, where the male dancer is always lifting the woman, even though both male and female ballet dancers have to be extremely strong. But nowadays, there are many types of dancing where these gender roles are abandoned, such as Contact Improv, where the male and female mutually rely on each other physically. Contemporary Dance is another example of gender neutrality in dance, as it can feature two males or two females dancing a duet. Hip Hop also dispenses with gender roles in dance, since both partners are engaging in the exact same movements.
6. REDUCE STRESS
Another great aspect of taking up dancing, is that it can definitely help reduce stress in your life, no matter what type of music you choose to dance to. For example, dancing to slow music provides the equal benefits to stress reduction as does dancing to a fast, upbeat tempo. As long as you are feeling the music, moving your limbs, and swaying your body, dancing will release pent-up tension and allow you to relax. Modern society can be highly stressful, with pressures from jobs, relationships, children, and finances. Dancing provides an outlet to cope with these challenges by releasing calming endorphins into your system, contributing to feelings of well-being and euphoria.
Not only can Dance get you in tune with your innermost thoughts, it also provides an emotional outlet to express these feelings. This is so important because it strengthens your ability to channel these expressive qualities and apply them to your daily life, even when you aren’t dancing.
8. RECONNECTING AS A COUPLE
Many times, the stress of daily life has a tendency of driving a wedge between couples, whether they are newly together or have been together for ages. Taking dance classes as a couple is a great alternative to traditional couples’ therapy. In a dance class, you’re discovering new steps together, often gazing into each other’s eyes while exploring sexy new ways to connect with each other. Who can deny the heat and passion in dancing the Tango, or being joined in a sensual Bolero? It’s almost like you’ve just started dating again, and what can be more exciting than that?
9. FUN FACTOR
Perhaps the simplest, yet most powerful reason to enroll in dance classes is that it’s a heck of a lot of fun! Health benefits and stress relief factors aside, it’s hard not to have a good time when you’re dancing. Whether it’s just an hour or two a week, it’s an hour of being free from the daily grind, listening to great music, socializing, and swaying, hopping, twisting around to the beat. And if you’re having a great time doing it, that’s all that matters.
10. CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO
Many people might be apprehensive about trying new things. Let’s face it. Doing something you’ve never done before can be scary sometimes. Jumping into a dance class not only trains you to face your fears of the unknown, but it provides a relatively risk-free environment to experiment with and expand your comfort zone, without worrying about the need for a bungee cord!
No matter which of these reasons appeals the most to you, there’s no denying that dancing provides a host of physical and emotional benefits which all contribute to make you a healthier and more well-rounded individual, while having fun and enhancing your social interactions.
How many hobbies can boast that claim without missing a beat?