5, 6, 7, 8…
I’ve been dancing in some way for my whole life. As a child, my mother put me in ballet, tap, Chinese dance, and somehow, praise dance classes. (I say somehow because we’re not religious.) The recital portraits are embarrassing, but at least some of my friends are in them with me. I ended up dabbling in other activities and drifted away from dancing. Now I’m an adult in a veritable dance capital, and I’m making the most of it. I urge others to give it a try too.
1. Dance is good for your brain
When I saw this article from the Harvard Gazette about how dance can prevent neurodegeneration, I was stoked. Not only do I get a good sweat in, but I’m also keeping my brain healthy? That’s a win-win if there ever was one. Although it’s noted that the studies are mostly observational, it’s common knowledge now that endorphins from exercising boost our mood. So even if you can’t do this move or that step yet, you are upkeeping your important gray matter!
2. Dance teaches you discipline
Whether you subscribe to Malcom Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” rule or not, dance is no exception. Of course, the quality of practice matters, but to get good at dance you just have to…do it often. If at all possible, dance in a room with a mirror. That could mean your bathroom! Like drawing, small tweaks and adjustments are immediately visible. Then to ingrain the right technique or the right move, you just have to do it over and over again. Your discipline will be rewarded.
3. Dance gives you a creative outlet
Let’s face it, the majority of us hold less-than-glamorous, but (hopefully) important jobs. Some of us draw, write, sing, code, play, or mix, and some of us choose to dance. When you’re in a class learning a set of steps, you get to personalize it by adding your own flair. If you’re jamming to music at home, you might get bitten by the choreographic bug. If you feel up to it, record your creations, even if they’re rough.
4. Dance has something for everyone
There is no one “superior” style of dance. You can be in your sixties taking jazz class, or a twenty-year-old learning to vogue, or mid-lifer learning the “Nae Nae” or whatever latest dance fad is popular with your kids. With the amount of variety available both in actual classes or YouTube tutorials, you are bound to find a style you like and resources to help you learn. Remember that you can slow down the speed of playback!
5. Dance encourages you to laugh at yourself
Usually I try to attend classes specifically for adults, but occasionally this isn’t possible. That means getting served by the tween in the center killing it in an open-level hip hop class. I find the disparity of skill between us to be hilarious. If you’re in LA or NYC, this possibility increases. It doesn’t matter. Unless you’re taking a super strict, no-nonsense ballet class (in which case I say, you should probably look elsewhere), your mistakes are and should be funny. Laugh at yourself now and prepare to be impressed later.
You may feel self-conscious when you first start dancing. Put on music you like, and just grant yourself a moment of fun. You’ll be surprised by what you discover and how you’ll feel…