By Tineka Blake
Do you want to enliven your soul, release your fears and let yourself loose? Dance may be what you’re looking for. I'd like to share with you why it's more than just a great physical activity or art form to pursue. Here are my top 10 reasons to dance!
- Dancing takes the psychological pain out of exercising
Tired of forcing yourself to the gym or harbouring guilt for not working out at home? Dancing offers a wide range of benefits from a full cardiovascular workout, improved muscle tone, to weight management—without having to sweat buckets over the treadmill. And it’s incredibly fun too. So yes, you have my permission to unapologetically step away from the dumbbells (if you don’t like them, I envy you if you do!).
- You can get rid of your labels
You may be a wife, partner, mother, sister and/or carer, but in the studio you get to drop all those labels, and lose yourself (and whatever soap opera you’re playing the main role in). Dancing helps to relieve stress—even a boogie around the living room when no one’s home can do the trick. Research also supports the positive impact of dance therapy on depression, anxiety, and overall quality of life. And personally, I find myself to be a more relaxed and calmer version of myself after a dance session. Trust me, your family will thank you for it later!
- You can’t fail at it
Maybe you’re not planning to be the next prima ballerina—I’ll leave my broken ballerina dreams to Michaela DePrince* —but seriously anybody can dance. At least that is my motto. As long as you’re feeling good whilst dancing, you’re doing it right. Plus, it’s never too late.
Eileen Kramer at 103 years old
- Those that dance together bond together
When I was younger, I’d train with the same girls up to 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I wouldn’t just say I knew my dance friends, I laughed with them, exchanged perspiration with them; I grew with them. Strong interpersonal relationships have also been demonstrated in the older generations too. So much so, Prime Minister Theresa May aims to alleviate loneliness by promoting social cohesion through dance. Let’s hope that’s a promise!
- Who do you want to be?
What I love about dance is that you get to choose who you want to be: an absolute sass-pot in Commercial Jazz; cool and composed in Street Dance and Hip-hop; or sexy in Salsa. But no matter what style of dance you go for, your own personality still manages to shine through. And that’s where the magic is. You have the absolute freedom to express yourself.
- Dancing takes the physical pain out of exercise
I’m going to reveal my ‘inner geek’ on this one. I recently found out that “endorphin” is an abbreviation for endogenous morphine.
morphine= morphine, i.e. painkiller
When you are dancing, (like various other engaging activities) you are literally tapping into your supply of “morphine produced naturally in the body”, as well as creating a general state of euphoria. You can totally check it out for yourself here. Thanks Wikipedia.
(For extra geeky bonus points: dancing literally changes your brain)
- You can grasp a greater understanding of music sheets
My partner loves to sing opera—yes, I do empathise with our neighbours at this point. Well, one night I was surprised to pick up quickly what he was explaining:
Minims, crotchets, semibreves and quavers (no, not the crisps…)
These are all terms you can be familiarised with in tap dance. So, I can confidently say, with dance comes a greater understanding of music, without even having to pick up a trombone**.
- You become that person people mirror on the dance floor
You know that part of the night when we’re all dancing in a circle and staring awkwardly at the person opposite wondering what to do next? YOU get to be that person who busts a move that everybody copies!
- You can get away with thinking you’re a swan, and wear a leotard after the 1980’s…
I recently took a Repertoire ballet class here in Utrecht. It was only when we lined up to run "onstage" I thought, wait, am I really doing this? Twenty-two fully grown human-looking swans, and the swan master. (Luckily, there were no feathers to sweep up after all of that flapping.) With dance, you don’t just work out your quads, you get to flex your vivid imagination too.
“There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.”
– Edwin Denby
- You realise anything is possible
When you’ve just landed that grand jeté as you saw in your dreams, when you’ve practiced that same step over and over again until you've conquered it. When you leave the studio with more confidence and stamina than you walked in the door a few months ago. You see that really, anything is possible. Now that’s a mindset I don’t mind spilling over into my everyday life...
By now, I hope you believe that dancing is more than just a good idea. It’s opportunity to invigorate, replenish and celebrate yourself! Such will be possible at the Pop-Up Dance Class for our members in April. For more details, please see the Calendar.
** I have no personal grievance against trombones. I love musical instruments, but unfortunately, I have never learnt how to play one (that’s if you exclude the triangle).