Benefits of Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing provides a rare combination of social interaction, physical exertion, and mental stimulation that can add so much to your life. Participating in ballroom dance can enhance your social life, boost your self-confidence, give you a great workout, promote relaxation, diminish stress, and relieve depression. Perhaps most importantly, it serves as a fantastic outlet for creativity and self-expression. With all these reasons to start learning ballroom dance, we challenge you to find a good reason NOT to.
BALLROOM DANCE IS A GREAT WORK-OUT!
Burn Fat / Lose Weight / Increase Metabolism
Ballroom dancing is a low-impact aerobic activity that can boost your metabolism and promote weightloss. In just thirty minutes of dancing, you can burn between 200-400 calories, which is roughly the same amount that you would lose while running or cycling! Burning an extra 300 calories a day can help you lose between ½-1 pound a week – that adds up quicker than you might think. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology demonstrated that dancing as a form exercise is just as effective for weight loss as cycling or jogging. Dance training is also an excellent form of “maintenance” exercise, allowing you to stay healthy and toned once you’ve reached your goal weight. And because ballroom dance is so much fun, you’re receiving all these benefits without feeling like you’re working out!
A good ballroom dance class begins each session with a few stretching exercises and warm-ups. Although it takes just a few moments, it helps protect dancers from injury and allows them to dance with comfort and ease. New dancers will especially notice that the more you dance, the more flexible you become. Increased flexibility improves your range of motion, decreases muscle soreness and joint pain after exercise, and reinforces core strength and balance. Ballet and yoga stretches can also serve as great warm-ups before a ballroom dance session, but be sure to talk with your instructor about a recommended warm-up or stretching routine.
Better Muscle Strength & Endurance
On top of everything else, ballroom dance serves as a form of resistance exercise using the dancer’s own body weight. The lifts, twists and turns, and quick steps involved in the dance style helps you developer more muscle strength in your legs, arms, and core as your lessons proceed. The longer you study ballroom dance, the better your endurance will become. You’ll find that your body is able to exert itself harder and longer without experiencing fatigue in dance and other physical activities. Ballroom dancing as exercise is especially effective at building up your endurance – focusing on your dance steps keeps your mind off the fatigue, allowing you to push yourself and condition your body faster. The end result? You’ll look and feel tone, strong, and sexy.
Great for All Ages
Ballroom dance is a fun activity for everyone – from children to senior citizens, which is another reason it’s such an effective form of exercise. We work with students of all age groups, physical abilities and skill levels – and will create a custom dance program that’s comfortable yet challenging, and will help you attain your dance AND exercise goals.
Besides all the benefits listed above, ballroom dance can strengthen bones, slow or prevent bone loss related to osteoporosis altogether, decrease cholesterol and blood pressure, increase lung capacity, and lower the risks of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. As a lower impact exercise than jogging or biking, it can even help speed up the recovery period after orthopedic surgery. The poses and fast movements required in ballroom dance help improve stability and balance, a crucial benefit for older people that might become prone to falls or stumbles. To reap the full body-conditioning benefits of ballroom dance, you should dance for at least half an hour about four days a week.
Ballroom dance can even sharpen your mental and intellectual abilities. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine described a study that followed adults for over 21 years. The research showed that dancing was one of the only activities that both improved cardiovascular fitness and reduced the risk of dementia and other serious cognitive impairments. Besides providing a measure of protection against those conditions, ballroom dancing can help enhance alertness, focus, awareness, concentration, and memory. Participating in activities like ballroom dance promotes the creation of more intricate neural pathways, warding off the weakened synapses that often accompany old age. Partner dancing can also help decrease loneliness among all age groups, as it is a goal-oriented social activity that brings like-minded people together. The mental health benefits of ballroom dance can even be seen in younger dancers. Researchers in Sweden studied teenage girls that struggled with anxiety, depression, and stress and showed that those that took up partner dancing improved their mental health significantly.
Every opportunity to dance – whether during a lesson or a social event, whether with your significant other or a new dance partner – will improve your confidence, communication skills, and comfort level on the dance floor. As your dance technique improves and you feel more at ease with other people, your sense of accomplishment, motivation and confidence will continue to increase. Even better – you will notice these new attributes taking root in other areas of your life as well.
SELF EXPRESSION AND CREATIVITY
Dancing comes naturally to people and it’s easy for anyone to participate. Dance provides an emotional outlet to express your feelings through body movements, with passion and flair. Ballroom dancing can be a uniquely powerful creative outlet that enhances your ability to use these expressive qualities even when you are not dancing and share that creativity with others. After only a few lessons, you will start to find yourself moving more and more seamlessly through your dance steps while you get lost in the music. Over time, you will unlock a beautiful rhythm that you might never have experienced before. Ultimately, dance can also help with your motivation and energy.
STRESS AND DEPRESSION
In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes forget to take a moment for ourselves. Dance lessons provide an enjoyable escape from your normal daily routine, plus a chance to relax, relieve stress, and concentrate just on yourself. Our students often tell us that even if they’re “not feeling it” when they come for a lesson, once they stretch and start dancing, they’re able to forget about the day’s challenges, simply b-r-e-a-t-h-e and let the dance take over. There’s also a growing body of evidence to indicate that dancing has a positive effect on the treatment, relief, and prevention of depression.
Group activities such as ballroom dance lessons can expand your sense of social “connectedness”, which is beneficial to lowering stress and depression levels.
Ballroom dance is similar to the practice of mindful meditation (which has been shown to significantly reduce levels of depression and stress) in that it requires you to fully focus your attention, and be present in the moment. This meditative state can help you “switch off” the negative thought patterns associated with depression or stress. For those who are not interested in traditional meditative practices, ballroom dance can be a great way to reap the same benefits.
The physical act of dancing releases endorphins and lowers the levels of stress hormones in our bodies. This produces a sense of alert calm and improves mood and energy levels.
As a depression or anxiety treatment, ballroom dancing is more likely to be voluntarily continued by participants than many traditional forms of therapy, further increasing its effectiveness.
SOCIAL FUN, FRIENDSHIPS AND CREATING NEW MEMORIES
One of the best aspects of ballroom dancing is how it brings people together. Ballroom dance lessons serve as a great opportunity to expand your social circle, build connections and engage with people in a low-pressure environment, where there are no expectations. It’s perfect for younger singles who want to step up their dating game, couples looking to reconnect, and for adults interested in discovering something new and inspiring, just for them. Learning to dance does take focus and dedication, but you will be surrounded and encouraged by artistic, positive and cheerful people who make learning enjoyable and rewarding. In studio events and outings, national and regional competitions, group lessons, and weekly practice parties, you’ll become part of a melting pot of people of all ages and cultural and occupational backgrounds. And the best part? Since they all share your passion for dance, these meetings often transition into lasting friendships. We are truly proud of the supportive, welcoming and warm environment you’ll find in our studio.
Dos & Don'ts of Social Dancing
Ballroom Dance Etiquette
Are you a newbie to the ballroom dancing scene and are unsure of the right way to dress, and interact with your partner and other dancers? You do not need to worry, as ballroom dancing etiquette is not rocket science, but there are a few simple rules that you should be aware of.
Familiarizing yourself with these rules will help you feel at home on the dance floor, so that you can actually accomplish what you came to do in the first place; dance and have lots of fun!!!
1. Dance Floor. If you are just starting out, it is especially important for you to learn to observe the line of dance. In traveling dances such as waltz, tango, foxtrot, samba, Viennese waltz, and quickstep,couples always move counterclockwise on the floor. Faster, more experienced dancers should always be in the outermost lane, intermediate dancers in the middle lane and inexperienced dancers in the center of the ballroom. By following this placement you will ensure your own safety, prevent collisions and save yourself a lot of stress.
Cross the dance floor around the perimeter if you're not dancing. Don’t cut through.
2. Personal Space. While ballroom dancing is passionate, sexy and provocative by nature it does not mean that accepting or asking someone for a dance imply personal/romantic interest. It is very important for both men and women to be aware of and maintain this personal boundary. You do not wan to run the risk of offending someone or embarrassing yourself. In the spirit of not crossing boundaries, kissing a woman’s hand or any other part of her body without her permission or invitation to do so can easily be considered a serious invasion of her personal space and even sexual harassment. Both men and women should think of each dance as brief light conversation at a party where they will then move on to the next chat.
3. Hygiene. While personal oral and bodily hygiene seems like an obvious must when dancing with a partner, its importance cannot be overstated enough. Make sure to use deodorant, body spray, breath mints and anything else in your arsenal to make sure that it would be pleasant for another person to remain in close proximity to you. It is best to avoid heavy perfumes and hair styling products with strong smells. More is less when it comes to strong scents, subtle is classy! 😉
4. Collisions and accidents. When you are just starting to dance, collisions on the dance floor can be the cause of stress and anxiety. All you need to remember is that when you get more than two people out on the dance floor, collisions sometimes can happen and there are a few simple things you can do to prevent them. As a rule of thumb, paying attention to other couples around you and not panicking if you see a couple moving in too close, should keep you and your partner safe.
Ladies, if you notice another couple about to collide into you and your partner, simply tap your partner gently on the shoulder. This will signal for him to move you in a different direction.
It’s important to remain calm and not grab your partner, as this may startle him, making the collision inevitable. If you happen to step on (or bump into) anyone, apologize to all partners involved, make sure that everyone is OK, and proceed with the dance.
No matter how careful or skilled of a dancer you may be, it is important to adapt a lighthearted attitude toward accidents on the dance floor. Chances are that once in a while they will happen!
You may end up dancing with someone who is not such a great lead/follow, someone may step on your feet or you may get an odd shove on a very crowded dance floor. Don’t get angry. Take it with a smile and go on dancing!
5. Leading/Following. Both leading and following is an art as much as it is a science that takes practice, diligence and creativity to master. While you are learning, make sure to never criticize or blame your partner for being a poor leader/follower. This will only lead to hurt pride and feelings, but will not be constructive to your learning.
Men should avoid exercising forceful leads to achieve a pattern. By pushing and pulling a woman into desired position, you will only make her feel uncomfortable. Pay attention to your partner’s level of skill and only lead what is appropriate to this current level.
When a woman accepts a dance, it implies that she is agreeing to follow and let the man lead. This means that if you are following, you should not try to lead. By doing this, you reject the man’s contribution to the partnership during the dance. This applies to the choice of dance, patters, and timing.
6. Asking someone to dance. While it may feel awkward or scary to ask someone to dance, you need to remember that this is not a typical social situation and people who ballroom dance are there to do one thing: ballroom dance. This means that it is not likely that you will be turned down, unless the other person has a good reason for it.
It's OK to say NO. During a dance party/social you don’t have to accept every invitation to dance. If you choose to decline a dance, do so with a smile. Be polite and perhaps offer to dance at a later time.
In the same vein, try your best not to turn someone down if they asked you to dance. If you do turn down a request to dance, it is polite to give a reason. It is all right to say that you are “resting” “sitting out”, or that you are “not familiar with this particular dance”.
If you would like, you can also warn them that you are a “beginner”. It is considered very rude to turn down one person and then accept another invitation during the same dance number. Moreover, doing a 100 meter dash to get a “choice” partner is considered improper.
There are also no complicated pick up lines required, you can simply ask “May I have this dance?” or “Shall we dance?” Ladies, the same philosophy applies to you, in ballroom dancing it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask a man to dance. At the conclusion of a dance it is polite to thank you partner, and the man should walk the woman back to her seat, even if she asked him to dance.
Be sociable, nice and smile. Introduce yourself to your partner right away and make eye contact. While these are very simple and basic social skills, they will take you a long way in ballroom dancing.
By being open, warm, and focusing on learning while having a good time instead of stressing out about imperfections in your dance skills, you will ensure that people will want to dance with you again.
7. Dress Code/Shoes. First and foremost your clothing should be comfortable and suitable for dancing (especially during group classes and private lessons). Also, bear in mind that your attire should not cause any discomfort to your partner (i.e. hard metal belt buckles, beaded sleeves that brush up against partner’s faces, etc). Men should always close their jackets or take them off before dancing.
Shoes: Always bring a change of clean shoes; if you don't have dance shoes yet, dress shoes are best; tennis shoes are worst (they stick to the dance floor and prevent your feet from pivoting/turning).