Benefits of Dancing – Part 2

Previously, we looked at the myth of ballroom dancing as a frivolous activity, something that benefits you on such a fundamental level that we usually dismiss it as being non-essential. The truth is, we’ve been taught to dismiss general knowledge – we want to be specialized in something. And yet, as you improve and develop in ballroom dance, there’s virtually no area of your life that won’t improve.

Most people tend to view ballroom dancing as a luxury, something to be enjoyed once the more pressing concerns of business and family are sorted out. True, there’s no obvious correlation between ballroom dance and making a good impression at an interview, or remembering important dates on the calendar; yet dancing can help you succeed at both of those things, and many others. Let’s look at some of the ways an ‘intangible’ service like ballroom dance can improve your life.

So, you’ve got work to finish, children to drop off at hockey practice, and still need to find time to cook dinner. And then the sink backs up. Sound familiar?

If you’re like most people, the situation above would likely generate a large amount of that unpleasant reaction known as stress. While you might be tempted to just pop some Prozac or hop on a flight to the Caribbean, there’s actually a lot of evidence that points to dancing as an effective stress-reliever. The following is my top 5 ways that dancing relieves stress.

What’s the first thing you notice as you are walking up to greet someone for the first time? Unless they have a mohawk and dress like a 1990s workout video, odds are it’s how they hold themselves – in short, their posture.

Virtually everything we encounter can teach us something about ourselves, and how we can enjoy this crazy experience called life. True, you usually have to be looking carefully to spot it. Perhaps what dance teaches you above all else is to just keep your eyes open – odds are, you’ll recognize something worth learning.

The following are little things I’ve learned – or am learning – during my journey with dance. I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.

So now that you’ve started to build your dance repertoire, you might notice that you’re actually starting to get ‘danced out’. You watch with envy those guys and gals who seem to be able to shake it non-stop – and they’re still there when you’re packing up your shoes. How can you raise your dance stamina to keep up?

There’s two quick answers: improve your physical fitness, and improve your dance efficiency.

We are talking about dance stamina, which is very different from

strength. The latter requires a very different approach.

1. Practice!

I can hear your groans from here – But it’s true – if you want to build your endurance, practicing your steps at the intensity that tires you regularly will allow you to do it longer and longer – and naturally you’ll get better at the steps as well.

Make sure you pace yourself. The fastest way to improve is to set an intensity that stops short of pulling muscles or frustrating yourself.

2. Less is more

Most dancers start out doing everything too much: too much hips, too much arm styling, too much turning… You get the idea. All that extra energy just drains your dance stamina, and throws off your partner as well. See if you can relax your body a little more, do a little less, and still move with your partner.

3. Consider a dance fitness class

Many studios teach dance classes that focus on burning calories. For example, Joy of Dance teaches Zumba, Nia, and Ginga classes, which vary in their intensity. You might even try a style like capoera that can’t help but strengthen your body simply because it’s the nature of the dance.

4. Hang From the Joints

Try this: position yourself in a dance frame with an imaginary partner.

Now, relax as much as you can without loosing the frame. You’ll find it a lot easier to hold the position, while spending a minimal amount of energy holding your body at the right angles. Practice dancing like this, alone and with a partner, to keep soft and save your dance stamina.

5. Fill the Music

In ballroom, movements should be spread out to fill each beat. For instance, if you begin a waltz reverse turn by rotating your body, hips and feet leftward on count 1, if will be MUCH easier to complete the turn on steps 2, 3. It’s a smoother lead too, which will score you more dance partners.

Other movements, like open breaks or contra checks, can save dance stamina if the lead is initiated a fraction of a second earlier – it’s all about being comfortable enough with your steps to anticipate the action just before it happens.

I’m not giving followers permission to back-lead here. But be ready for these subtle lead changes, and you will work with your partner – not against him.

Partner dancing is like going to a school where you have to take all the same classes, and your average score at the end determines whether you graduate. What if you had different interests? What if one of you learns faster than the other? Figuring out how to work together is the heart of partner dancing – the benefits of which, is that you will have new teamwork skills and a new romantic activity to bring you closer together. Here’s how to lay the foundation for fun and enjoyable partner dance lessons.

It’s difficult to over-estimate the benefits of dancing – virtually no part of your body or mind is left unimproved if you work at it long enough. For the sake of this article however, I researched some of the main benefits of dancing you will start seeing as you improve.

The body is the most obvious place where you will see improvement. Dancing is a first choice for many people as a supplement to going to the gym or other exercise, mainly because it’s so much fun you’re not even aware of many calories you are burning.