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  • Writer's picture Alison Hollingsworth

Why should adults dance?

I had someone tell me once that dance was something that you only did in high school and if you were a dance instructor you only taught dance until you were married. Imagine my surprise at realizing I had been living life all wrong! Ha! So after informing them of their flawed and limited impression of dance I started wondering if perhaps part of his view was a pervasive assumption. Perhaps many people don't realize the benefits and opportunities adult dance can provide. Dance, and from my perspective Classical Ballet, has so many benefits to the adult dancer both physical and mental/emotional.

Let's start with a look at the many physical benefits of Dance.

* Strong Core- abdominals and back

* Improved Posture

* Strength and Toning

* Improved Flexibility

* Balance

* Coordination

Ballet has it's roots in a strong core. All movement comes from the core outward. Movement extends out the fingers and out the toes. Given this, we spend a lot of time training a strong core. We work on correct alignment of the spine, hips, shoulders, neck and head. We also train our limbs to work correctly, gracefully and quickly on command. With all of this work comes strength and toning. Another hidden benefit is that the beautiful posture that is created in a ballet class tends to carry outside of class. When you leave ballet class you tend to feel a bit taller and longer. Having heard the instructor focus on it so often throughout the class you have that planted in your head and tend to work on in throughout your day as well. You also increase your flexibility during dance classes. Many of the exercises include a stretch but we also always have a focused stretch period in the classes. We must stretch the muscles that have justbeen worked so we create long lines to avoid the bulking that other forms of weight lifting might create. And yes, you heard that right, weight lifting. You are not using weights but you are holding your arms out and using them constantly as well as holding your legs out in the air and moving them about.

We also work a great deal on balance and coordination. You will often be balancing on one leg on a flat foot as well as on Demi Pointe (ball of your foot). This sense of balance carries over into every day life beautifully! The coordination comes into play in many different forms. Ballet forces you to coordinate the arms and legs together in a movement. It forces you to coordinate a string of movements together. And it even forces you to coordinate movements on both sides of the body. Many people find moving to the right pretty easy.....then comes the dreaded left! However, the more you do all of this the easier it becomes. I was just told by a student last week that she could tell a difference in her typing at work since starting ballet. She said her left hand had become a lot faster and that the coordination of both hands working together was becoming easier. So awesome to hear things like that! There are so many other physical benefits but those are pretty darn great for sure!

Now let's take a look at the emotional/mental benefits of Dance.

* Confidence

* Stress Release

* Community

* Beauty

* Dance has been proven to stave off dementia.

Ballet has a wonderful payoff when it comes to working toward something and achieving it. You may conquer one step in one day but you may have to work on another for four weeks. Both feelabsolutely fabulous when you achieve them. And that does wonders for your sense of well beingand confidence. I also think working toward an attainable goal is really great for your self confidence. In our crazy hectic day to day life it give us something that we are in absolute control of! Dance is also a great way to release the stress of your day. When you walk into a dance class you leave all of your worries outside. This is your time to focus on you! Plus, there are so many things to think about in class that there is no room for outside thoughts in your head. Imagine that!!! No technology beeping at you or someone requesting your help. You will be busy working on the technique of the movement but also the beauty of the movement will captivate you. There is a great deal of artistry that can be applied to each movement to make it stunning. So many different layers with which to investigate and play. Dance Class is also a great way to make friends. At Ballet Arts & Fitness we have the most amazing community of dancers. I watch them and am so humbled by how they help each other and welcome new people into the studio. So, if you find the right studio you can make lasting friendships with like minded people. And last but not least are all of the new studies that have reported time and time again that dance is a great way to ward off dementia. It has to do with the way the mind and body have to work together to create the movement. Google it and read it if you care to! It isa fascinating read.

I do firmly believe that anyone can learn and enjoy Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, etc at any age! Don't let fear or some nagging voice tell you "adults don't dance." Because I am telling you- WE DO! And, we have a great time doing it!

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