My wife and I started ballroom dance lessons about four years ago, so it is a good time to reflect at the experience. Since dance studios proclaim the benefits as part of their marketing, this post is a personal evaluation of those. The bold is the proclaimed statement, thus my thoughts follow.
#1: Improves Posture
Check. No question that my walking movements are different today than when we started – although I need to work on being more upright.
#2: Sharpens the Mind
Check. Ballroom dance is more difficult that one thinks in terms of brain activity alone. Besides the obvious learning, dancers (especially the lead) have to plan, react, and adjust. Ballroom is a challenge requiring mental discipline. The female must also increase her awareness in order to react to subtle and/or unexpected signals. Since most ballroom is lead and follow (as opposed to choreograph), the bottom line is that dance involves a lot of brain activity.
#3: Improves Self-Confidence
Check. Of course that is assuming that one is achieving what they want to achieve from the experience.
#4: Exercises the Body
Check. The aerobic extent of ballroom dancing correlates to the type of dance. Obviously, a faster song is more aerobic than a slower dance. There is no doubt that this activity also improves muscle tone and endurance while lowering blood pressure, exercising the heart, and improving breathing.
#5: Relieves Stress
Check. Although ballroom dance tests our patience, we have grown to become more patient. Besides, the enjoyment of dance takes one away from the rat-race nature of today’s world.
#6: Fosters New Friendships
Check. Since we have been at the same studio during our time, we have met many people and have become very good friends with some, thus have been to each other’s home for dinner and socializing. Since we dance outside of our studio, our circle of friends expands even more.
#7: Improves Relationships
Check. Ballroom dance is something we do together. Sure, times can be testy, but it takes two people working together to be successful.
#8: It is Fun
Check. For me, the combination of music, friends, and spouse adds up to fun. Through the music of the past and present, dance allows everyone the opportunity to rediscover a child-like spirit within us.
A Few Cautions
- Quality ballroom dance lessons are not cheap because a studio is a business, not a recreation center.
- Like anything else, some instructors are more professional and knowledgeable than others.
- Having a musical background is helpful, but not required.
- Practice is important.
- Some participate in ballroom dance to compete, yet others do it be social dancers.
Bottom line is that we enjoy the activity and have experienced its proclaimed benefits.
Meanwhile, enjoy this Bolero – a slow, Latin dance that is one of our favorites.
Opening Image from Fred Astaire Dance Studios