Salsa, Zumba, Lindyhop, Ballet, Locking, all different forms of dance, all different in their own way, however they all have at least one thing in common; they make people happy.
Dancing is a form of physical therapy, it's exercise and that we cannot deny, however it is also a mental therapy. Take that to mean what you will but I want to break down just a few ways in which dance has helped people to develop.
When I first started Salsa I had very little confidence. I would get nervous just talking to new people, petrified that they wouldn't like me or that they would think I was boring.
It was incredible just how much a few Salsa lessons began to change me, I realised that as I moved around the circle and got to talk to more and more people I could do just that, talk to anyone, and it didn't matter what they thought. Ever since then I've met newer and greater challenges; worrying that people would judge my dancing and not think I was very good, that I sweat too much (grosse), and more recently my fear of talking in front of a large group of people-teaching is petrifying but I'm getting there.
I have not only seen this development in myself through dance, but also in the people around me. Are you the same?
- Brain activity
It is scientifically proven that dance is good for the brain. New research is constantly coming through which shows that dance can help ward off Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Even more poignant is that it is not just any type of dance, but freestyle dancing, as this requires constant rapid-fire decision making (do I go from a Left Turn to an Open Break or to a Titanic) which is key to maintaining intelligence as it forces the brain to work.
Dancing integrates kinaesthetic, rational, musical and emotional brain functions giving greater cognitive reserve. Frequent freestyle dancing has been shown to reduce the risk of Dementia by 76%. This is almost twice as much as much as reading and 100% greater than playing sport.
Next time the guys tease you for going to Salsa instead of playing Football just tell them your going to exercise your brain instead of your biceps. All of this adds up to the suggestion that 'Dancing makes you smarter'.
- Parkinson's disease
If you have never heard of it this is a degenerative disease where the sufferers lose control over their bodily movements. Celebrities such as Michael J. Fox have made the world more aware of its existence and the fact that currently there is no cure.
Unlike as I mentioned before with Alzheimer's Disease dance cannot help to prevent Parkinson's, however it can be used as a treatment.
'Dancers know about stretching and strengthening muscles, about balance and rhythm. Dancers know about the power of dance to concentrate mind, body and emotion on movement as they use their thoughts, imagination, eyes, ears and touch to control their bodies everyday'. Charities such as Dance For PD use professionally trained dancers who are 'movement experts' to help those with Parkinson's.
Had a hard day at the office, been sat at a desk all day straining your eyes at the computer screen, or dealing with difficult customers? If you just go home after work and think that sitting in front of the TV or Facebook, or taking a nap, is the way to unwind then you are very much mistaken. Unless we can take our brains completely away from the problem then I find it will continue to bubble under the surface.
Taking a dance class can ultimately remove us from this. It gets you socialising, having fun, meeting new people and learning new things, using a different part of the brain as to what we use in everyday life (unless of course you are a professional dancer in which case I don't know why you're stressed your life is great).
Ending on a less serious note, dance is also just fun so get yourself down to class!!!!