Dance is one of the key elements of human expression along with music, writing, and culture. Shared across the world by multiple civilizations and people, dance has always enjoyed a centers stage when it comes to the history of our species. Today dance is more popular than ever with a 35% increase in the number of Americans who have taken ballroom dance classes for kids from 2001 to 2011. In the United States there are an estimated 8,404 dance studios specializing in everything from hip-hop dancing to elegant ballroom dance. Despite the fact that there have been no events dedicated to it over the past two summer Olympics, ballroom dancing has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee since September 5, 1997 with the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) serving as the sole representative body for DanceSport — this means that future Olympic games are likely to feature ballroom dancing.
The History and Development of Dance as Art
Archaeologists have uncovered proof of dance in the form of Indian cave paintings that are believed to be over 9,000 years old. It is known that the ancient Egyptians routinely used dance for both entertainment and religious purposes. Cultures continued to pass down and develop dance into the intimate cultural element we know it as today. Yet regulated dance as we now know it was not established until the late 17th century. The French King Louis XIV standardized the specific rules for forming ballroom dance when he founded the Academie Royale de Musique et de Danse. To this day, those same rules and guidelines laid by Louis XIV remain as the standards by which modern ballroom dance is held.
The Physical Benefits of Dance
With the ever-constant connectivity we experience thanks to our mobile devices, many parents fear that their children will adopt a sedentary lifestyle complete with obesity and the myriad of health concerns that go with it. Studies suggest that regular participation in dance classes for kids has a number of benefits to a child’s health. Dance class provides regular aerobic activity that helps promote cardiovascular health; this helps to lower a child’s risk for developing hypertension, heart disease, or other similar conditions. By participating in regular dance classes, children are able to improve their posture and balance, potentially opening up new athletic avenues for the child to explore in the future. Studies show that the regular training needed for dance provides children with an ideal opportunity to strengthen muscles and bones at an early age to promote life long health. Finally, constant dance classes provide children with a regularly scheduled time to get active, increasing flexibility while also contributing to healthy weight maintenance. While these physical benefits can be considered reason enough to enroll a child in dance classes, the added benefits of dance help drive this point further.
The Emotional and Beneficial Benefits of Dance Classes for Kids
Studies over the past few decades maintain that regular dance classes do more for a child than what the physical benefits would suggest. The New England Journal of Medicine found in a study that regular dance classes can help improve memory and ultimately reduce the risk for dementia in adults. There are a number of soothing, therapeutic benefits to dance according to experts; regularly participating in dance has been shown to reduce long term stress and tension levels in adults and children alike. Of the millions of American children and adults who suffer from depression, those who routinely participate in dance are shown to have decreased symptoms for depression and enjoy a generally higher quality of life. Dance classes for kids also provide a social opportunity for children to meet like-minded peers, develop rivalries, and form friendships that can last for a lifetime. Traits such as discipline, dedication, and focus are difficult to teach children; enrolling a child in a dance class is an investment in their future as these traits become second nature embodiments through their expression. Find a dance studio near you to schedule a private dance lesson or enroll in public ballroom dancing lessons to enjoy all the benefits that dance can offer.