The Benefits of Dancing
Children begin dancing for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's because a child's been dancing around the house since they arrived and displays a keen interest in dance and it's a given. For some -- many -- other cases a parent feels it will develop grace or better posture. Or, enrolling in ballet could be because of some genetic weakness, injury or illness, and ballet lessons have been recommended as remedial, corrective exercise. Ballet is taught as a practice comprised of "positions" and traditional steps set to music, which almost anyone can start out learning to do and marks the beginning of body awareness, muscular control, and powerful, poised, physical deportment.
That said, ballet is both a challenging and fulfilling body discipline that develops both coordination and mental acuity as well as helps to develop an ear for music and the joy inherent in responding physically to it. From an exercise standpoint, ballet's many benefits include muscular strengthening and the building of cardiovascular stamina, and the potential to increase flexibility. An absolute benefit includes postural awareness, postural alignment and general improvement. Because of the isometric techniques employed across ballet study, students of all ages build elongated yet strong arms and legs. Using the weight of the body against gravity strengthens lean muscle tissue.
For Emotional and Cognitve Development, in Addition to Physicality.
We have seen time and time again that the study of ballet mentors students to develop skills of determination and agility, and helps to build self-confidence. Ballet develops grace, and the discipline of the movement and practice promotes the tendency toward excellent organizational skills.
The practice and discipline developes impressive concentration levels, superior understanding of commitment, artistry, the propensity for self-expression, exceptional physical fitness, and the noticeable development of cooperation and awareness-of-other skills. Studying ballet additionally challenges the mind in that it enhances memorization capacity and sense of self in space -- spatial and kinesthetic awareness -- thanks to the application of stringing steps together, turning and level changing, reversing and retrograding, all of which can greatly improve dyslexia. And finally, our students understand the satisfaction of reaching long-term goals, a reward not found easily in today's fast-paced world.
For Theatrical, Performance Skills Development.
To perform in an art, some are born with more inherent talent for it than others. Nevertheless, opportunity to perform movements and steps set to music alongside your classmates, as well as, as a solo dancer are skills that when developed, stay with a student for life. Presentation skills are ones that develop over time and become more fun and more fulfilling -- and far less intimidating -- with practice, whether the child is headed for a career on the stage or will benefit from these skills having become a fabulous speaker and presenter at some point in his/her future. In-class opportunity to perform takes place in front of the mirror with classmates, at our annual Student Demonstration, or as by auditioning for a part in one of Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami annual, local productions, Studio students are given ample opportunity and guidance to develop confidence in personal and group performance skills.
Benefits For Adults :
Many of us who take ballet lessons know that it is a great way to keep fit.
Studies of professional ballet dancers in the United States have showed that what these dancers do is as difficult as what professional football players do. It is not hard, then, to imagine the amount of training the body gets when you do ballet.
In ballet, every inch of your muscles is actively engaged in movements. No wonder many ballet students find that they end up shedding some fat and having well-toned muscles after having started regular training.
Another benefit of ballet is that it does wonders to your posture. As the basic requirement of ballet is to have a neutral stance with the spine straightened and hips "squared" (meaning, parallel on both sides), this posture is going to have a "spill-over" effect on your day-to-day posture. If you work on it consistently, you will end up looking as graceful as Audrey Hepburn! No kidding. Hepburn had many years' training in a professional ballet conservatory, and this training showed in the way she carried herself on stage and behind the camera.
Besides the beautiful look, a good posture is extremely important in staying healthy. Many pain syndromes that people living a sedentary lifestyle experience are a result of poor posture and muscular-skeletal dysfunction. So if you don't have a good posture to start off with, ballet is going to magnify the problem - which is great, because you will now want to work on it and along brings the great health benefits of a correct posture. I will write more about ballet stance and healthy posture later.
Brain Exercise :
Speaking of sedentary lifestyle, ballet is a wonderful activity to get you off your chair. While many people choose yoga or Pilates these days to balance off the long hours of sitting and the lack of movement, some choose ballet for its high "fun factor". In ballet we get to move along with music and make beautiful patterns with our bodies. We use a lot of "brain power" to remember the steps and to coordinate the different body parts. For example, we exercise the left brain for getting the "mathematical" parts - the logic of the step combinations - right; the right brain for interpreting the music and expressing our body in an artistic manner; the upper rear portion of the brain for interpreting spatial relationships; and the lower part of the brain for memorizing the steps.
Since we do not use words to express ourselves in this art form, the part of ourselves that cannot be expressed verbally now gets a channel to come out. And the part that deals with language gets a welcoming "time off." For me, this is a wonderful form of relaxation. No need to find the right words when I dance. It's just direct, intuitive expression.
Classical music is most often used in ballet lessons. There have been studies that confirmed the positive influence of classical music, especially that of the Baroque era and that of Viennese Classicism (especially Mozart). It is found that such music stimulates the alpha waves in the brain. Alpha wave is the wave form detected when the mind is calm or in the meditative and intuitive states. Being in alpha mode would therefore enhance thinking, learning and intuition.
Artistic Development :
Ballet is a highly aesthetic art. In my experience, those who have picked up ballet as a hobby or as a way to keep fit usually end up being in love or even obsessed with the art form. In fact, cultural development comes naturally to any serious ballet students. The more you learn, the more you are likely to delve into the wonderful traditions behind it.
You will become interested in watching ballet performances, learning about all the current and past performers, and reading up on ballet history and other related art forms, especially music. You will start to learn about the different ballet composers and choreographers. Your musicality is also likely to improve over time, as you learn to move your body with music instead of just counting the beats.
Ballet is inherently a performing art. However, for most adult learners, performing for an audience may not be a possibility at all. Whether you end up on the stage or not, the ballet classes do provide a chance for you to "perform," even if it is only for the teacher, your classmates and yourself. You will gain a sense of confidence in your own ability to execute movements along with music. If you are a shy person, you might even overcome your lifelong shyness! And if you are lucky enough to go on the stage, the applause and recognition you'll get from the audience is worth gold.
If you are sold on joining an adult ballet class by now, I can guarantee that you will be reaping a combination of the above benefits, even if you simply start off with the intent of keeping fit or shedding a few pounds. And along the way, you will also get to make friends in a niche field - friends who are as misunderstood by their familiar circle and as obsessed as you are with this art form.