Whether you were moved by the great film dance movements of the iconic Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire or you’re more of a Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze Dirty Dancing fanatic, dancing has inspired the young and the not so young to take their turn at the glamorous world of ballroom dancing. There are tons of dance schools willing to take on those eager students but, unfortunately, not many of those students are going to continue for more than a few weeks, or stop once they realize that it will take much more practice than “Baby” (Jennifer Grey’s character in Dirty Dancing) had in preparation for her grand mambo dance scene. So, here are the many reasons for you to resume your ballroom lessons, but even more importantly, to have your little ones begin theirs.
For years, the exercise benefits of ballroom dancing have been well known. Not only does dancing increase flexibility, strength, and endurance, but more recently research has also shown ballroom dancing to reduce stress levels and increase serotonin levels. And because it is a communal activity, ballroom dancing has also been found to have positive effects on a person’s mental health because of close partner interaction and being around others while forming a social link to people with similar interests.
A landmark 21-year study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, further educated us on the benefits of dancing for one’s mental health. It, among other studies, showed that frequent ballroom dancing actually reduced the risk of dementia over other physical activities including bicycling and swimming. “Ballroom dancing involves precise physical activity, listening to the music, remembering dance steps, and taking your partner into account, which is very mentally testing,” Joe Verghese, the study’s head researcher said.
But just how does ballroom dancing benefit children? Is it just another activity to add to an already busy schedule? Ballroom dancing, as with most other forms of physical activity, improves children’s physical health. With the growing concern of childhood obesity, this is not an insignificant fact and should be reason enough for parents to embrace ballroom dancing as an extracurricular activity. Children who dance regularly exhibit increased stamina and strength while their balance, posture, and coordination are improved. Furthermore, children who learn to enjoy physical exercise at an early age are more likely to continue on as adults.
But its benefits don’t end there. Not only is ballroom dancing a fun way to get much-needed exercise, it also offers socialization and educational benefits in addition to building self-esteem. As mentioned earlier, ballroom dancing is a social activity, which can help eliminate shyness while they pick up new communications skills through partner cooperation and team interaction.
A local dance studio, Avant Garde Ballroom, emphasizes posture, etiquette, and teamwork in their ballroom dance youth program. “The first thing we start out with is how the gentleman escorts the lady on the floor,” says dance instructor Jennifer Christophel. “We also reviewed how we ask someone to dance and how to look each other in the eye.” The program’s goal, which welcomes children as young as 5 years of age, is to teach life lessons that they can take with them once the class is over both on and off the dance floor.
As studies on the correlation of dance and its educational benefits continue, thus far it has been found that students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers. “Family Talk Magazine” estimates that students who have a background in dance tend to achieve significantly higher SAT scores and do better in math and science competitions. After all, in order to become a skillful dancer, one must be disciplined, persistent, and focused– necessary skills for any child on track for academic (or life in general) success.
Written by Cindy Claros, Marketing & Events Director for Avant Garde Ballroom.
Avant Garde Ballroom is a premier full-service dance studio in North Bethesda, offering a state-of-the-art facility and talented instructors who specialize in classic and cutting edge dance.
For more information on Avant Garde Ballroom’s Adult and Youth Ballroom Dance Programs, please call (301) 881-1436 or visit their website: www.AvantGardeBallroomMD.com.