What Does A Life of Dance Look Like?

Growing up in dance can look differently from state to state, studio to studio and kid to kid. In the past several years dance has made a comeback in the mainstream spotlight of television and film. While this pop culture reboot has done some great things for our art, it has also given rise to some negative trends for both youth and adults. This is one reason why it is so important to take time to find the best dance school for your family. It didn’t occur to me that parents are actually afraid of their children becoming commodities or exploited through dance until I had a lengthy and honest email conversation with a father concerned about his daughter choosing dance as her passion. 

It’s worth noting this conversation was with a prospective client whose daughter danced at another school. For anonymity and brevity’s sake, this is only an excerpt of our conversation. The only thing altered is I have used pronouns where names had been. Do his concerns in yellow ring true for you? Or do you relate more to our responses? Both sides are valid and worth discussing. We’d love to know your thoughts on this important issue!  

“But at the same time, I play it out in my head of what a life of dance would look like, and what message does that convey to our daughter of what we value.”

So this makes me wonder, what movie is playing in your mind when you picture what a life of dance would look like? I hate to answer your question with a question, but it is important to know what you’re picturing here. For me, a life of dance has looked like:

  • A lifetime sport- everybody dances throughout life at school, parties and weddings. I have built the confidence to get out on the dance floor until I am at least 100 years old. 
  • Life skills that have led to my success in life- discipline, work ethic, physical exertion, nutrition, balance, stamina, time management… 
  • Growing up I loved performing. Then I joined a competitive team. (This is no longer a part of my value system and my school won’t be competing. We focus on performances.) In high school this led to me forming a dance team. In college, this lead to me forming another dance team. I also performed in the Dance Collective show in college. As a young school teacher, I joined a professional dance team and performed at games for two years. Highlight moments there included dancing at a game with Bon Jovi and John Elway present, flying in US military Chinooks to land on soccer fields and talk to kids about not doing drugs, and performing in a packed Mile High Stadium on the 4th of July- they were such rare experiences, and SO exhilarating. I also coached and taught dance all throughout my college and “real job” years, where I created dance scholarship programs and put on some amazing shows to raise money for awesome causes. I have seen some of my dancers go on to become professional performers, others who have become dance instructors, and still more who have gone on to do nothing with dance but still be amazing at life and come back and share how dance shaped them as adults. I have performed with bands and choreographed flash mobs. When I was in high school, there was a death in my family- a child, my nephew. It was heartbreaking for my whole family, and I firmly believe dance saved my life back then. Today, my mission is to change lives for the better through dancing. THIS is what a life of dance means for me, and it’s pretty similar to what most of my colleagues and dance friends would say too. Is this what’s going through your head when you picture a life of dance? 

 

I have a message that plays in my head that goes something like “If you get into dance, then you are placing a high value on how you can move and use your body, and you learn to move your body in a way that gains attention and appreciation from other people.” Now I know that this is incorrect, and maybe you could help me out with what value is being conveyed to the dancers with the time and energy they invest into this. 

Well, I’m not sure you are incorrect on this. I think it’s absolutely true. HOWEVER, I imagine that this has a negative connotation for you. Perhaps you are picturing a tiny little outfit and some sexual movements in a dimly lit room. If so, these are terrifying thoughts indeed. For me, my perception of the same sentence is 100% positive. I am completely fascinated with what the human body can accomplish, and I think it deserves the attention and appreciation of others. This is no different than how I appreciate the amazing feats of a football player’s body rushing the passer, a gymnast’s body in a double tuck, the baseball player’s body that swings the bat so hard the ball leaves the field, a wrestler’s body who gets a reversal and pins…. I could go on and on.    

 

I know our daughter loves to dance, I just need to ensure that the time investments and values we lift up and tell her to aim for are good and pure. The last thing I want to be is apathetic and indifferent. 

I completely agree. Apathy and indifference will convey a horrible message to your daughter. However, you might just have to fake it until you make it on that one. It will take some time for you to buy-in. Frankly, it could take years for you to appreciate the life changing magic that happens when a child who loves dancing finds the right fit in a studio. That’s okay, and I promise you’re not the first dad to feel this way. You won’t be the last either. You are probably the only dad who takes the time to think through it this thoroughly though, and THAT in and of itself puts you miles above apathy or indifference. 

In all honesty, I don’t think it’s the art of dance that scares you. I think it’s all the potential environments you are wary of. You don’t need to worry about that with us, and I don’t think you need to worry about it for your daughter in general. It seems to me you are working hard to raise a values-driven adult. No matter what she does with dance or where she goes with it, she’s not going to make decisions to disappoint you. 

 

Introduces our youngest dancers to ballet and tumbling in a positive and fun setting.

Why Can’t I Watch Class?!

Elevate Dance Center is a “kiss and go” studio. This can be hard for some of our youngest dancers’ parents to understand, but we feel very strongly that our children should be given a learning environment free from spectators. Class time is about exploration, mistake-making and growth. It is not a performance, and therefore needs no audience. 

While certainly you are the most well-behaved parent on Earth, some folks are absolutely not. When parents are in the room, they unintentionally create a slew of distractions, such as texting, tending to younger siblings, whispering to one another, or giving a misbehaving child “the eye.” 

While well-meaning, it is actually a huge step in the wrong direction for our classes when parents interrupt the room to help with changing shoes. We totally get it- you’re just trying to help, and you don’t want to see us “waste” 5 minutes changing shoes. But, we are experts in our craft, and there is actually magic that happens during the shoe transition part of class. Did you know it’s actually an opportunity for our kids to reach some benchmarks and milestones in their coordination and independence? Did you know that’s the part of class where some students step in as leaders and help those who need it? Did you know during the shoe change is when some kids share whatever’s on their heart with us?

Who knows what goes on in all those brilliant little minds while you’re watching, but we bet it goes something like:

Why does her mommy stay and mine goes? I want my Mommy too! 

Oh I see my mommy over there I will run and give her a quick hug. 

My mommy is here but she’s looking at her phone. I have an idea! I will really act up so she pays attention to me. 

Why does my mommy keep making those movements at me while I do this dance? She doesn’t like it. I must not be a good dancer. 

My mommy isn’t here today. There’s nobody clapping and watching me do this. I guess I’ll stop. 

You see, when parents stick around, it creates two distinct groups of kids; those kids whose parents stay, and those who don’t. This creates a whole bunch of different behaviors that we don’t normally have to handle when ALL parents simply kiss and go.

So what if you’re on board with the kiss-and-go policy, but you’re still not ready to be separated from your little for 45 minutes? Here are some tips to make it easier on you, momma:

  1. Arrive early enough that you are both calm and not rushing. Take your child to the bathroom, help her find a cubby, set up their stuff just right. Spend a couple minutes together in the room, dance it out for a sec. 
  2. With a bright smile, wave and say “See you soon! Have fun!”
  3. THEN GO. No more hugs, no tearful slow-motion waves. Rip the band-aid off and book it. We promise to keep your child safe and comfort him if he’s upset. 
  4. If you are really uncertain if your child is going to go for this, then talk to the teacher about your concerns up front. Let her know how long you are comfortable with your child crying before you want to be called. (We’ve never had to make that call, by the way. 😉
  5. And lastly, if you can’t bring yourself to leave- just stay invisible. The room is made of glass, you can see in. Just make sure your baby doesn’t see you, or it all really goes downhill from there.

We promise, it gets better every week. This is why we suggest you give it 6 weeks for your predancer to adjust. Check in with your child’s teacher after class. If after 6 weeks it’s still a struggle, then it’s possible your dancer isn’t ready yet.  We will be honest with you and help you if the decision to dance now needs reassessing. We are in this together. You and your child are in great hands. It takes a village, and we are your people. Now kiss that beautiful baby and go! 

More Than Just Great Dancing

Why dance?

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words the magnitude of what we do when step into the studio. When we dance, we throw a party for our soul. As dance teachers, we know we are changing lives in every class, and we think our parents intuitively know it too when they sign their kids up for dance.

When you find the right fit in a studio, you get it. You begin to understand that dance is so much more than pointing your toes. By engaging in dance in a positive and nurturing way, we’re building beautiful human beings, not just beautiful dancers.

Yes, technique is very important. The athletic and artistic benefits of dance cannot and should not be ignored. But, it’s more than just great dancing. Dance enhances intelligence. It also develops resilience, creativity and teamwork among other important life skills.

Your dance studio is a lighthouse in your dancer’s life; a bright beacon in this dark, crazy world. Your dance school is a community of growth and learning, where children are celebrated and dancers are invited to become the best version of themselves.

This is why we dance.

Tights. Are They Over?

Elevate Dance Center is a tights-wearing dance studio in spite of the fact that it’s become very trendy and “cool” to skip the stockings. The no-tights camp is quick to label the pro-tighters as “old school.”  The issue can be such a point of contention, that we once had a parent petition to get Miss Janelle and I fired from Belliston Academy because we did not allow her daughter to dance barefoot and sans-tights at a dance convention like students from other studios were doing. It was our job to enforce the rules of the studio, and we told her she needed to take her classes in dress code. Her mother complained to the owner, Miss Jeannine, and although I don’t remember the exact language she used, it amounted to, “The other kids are doing it, and my daughter should be allowed to look like them if she wants. We pay a lot of money for dance.” Thankfully Miss J backed us up, and told the mother to go ahead and take her pick of those other studios. Phew! Bullet dodged. However, that crazy mommy’s reaction is just a microcosm example of the greater dance world’s hot-button feelings on the tights-or-no-tights issue. I asked our expert EDC instructors to weigh-in, and here’s what they had to say:

Miss Janelle (Hip Hop, Breakdancing, Jazz): I like for them to wear tights. It helps make their body lines look cleaner when on stage. It keeps their muscles warm. When I was judging [a regional dance competition in another state] last month I noticed three [different] teenage dancers that started menstruating [during different dances]. You can tell they were uncomfortable on stage. Tights add extra protection for young dancers. I am 100% in support of tights.

Mr. Keston (Ballet, Turns & Leaps): I mean, it’s ballet. You should always be wearing tights. I didn’t stop wearing full-length tights until I got my first professional contract. It is an extra layer of protection for guys as well- keeps everything in place.

Miss Sara (Predance, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical): I think wearing tights is important to keep muscles warm and I think it completes the body’s lines too.

Miss Harley (Jazz): Tights always made me feel confident and comfortable [while I was dancing].

Miss Shelli (Acro): They are fine right now with what tricks they are working on [but we may need to reconsider them for Acro as the kids progress in difficulty].

Let’s examine both sides of the coin from a broader perspective of the international dance community where this is an ongoing debate. (The following quotes are taken from dance instructors and studio owners across the country, however they were pulled from conversations from closed networking groups and are listed anonymously to protect privacy.)

“What would be a pretty step or trick otherwise looks sexual without adequate coverage. As an Acro teacher, I am very careful about putting kid on stage in just a leotard, hitting split lines and balances. It’s gets inappropriate quickly, and can have the potential to sexualize children. I just watched a community performance with teenagers wearing only leotards and doing balances and tilts, and the audience of adults were either very uncomfortable or watching intently…It’s a slippery slope.”

“As a teenager, it did make an impact on my emotional development feeling so exposed because that’s just ‘what you wear’ and my point is – shouldn’t we be making costuming choices for our children based on what is most modest and appropriate for them individually rather than on what everyone else is doing?”

“Once upon a time when I was training and going to college for dance…tights were a rule. The light compression helped improve circulation to your legs and feet (there have been studies where this is proven…same reason I wear compression socks as a runner). It was also thought to be part of the “uniform” and make class professional.”

“As a studio owner, dance teacher, and mom to three girls, it’s tights all the way. In a perfect world, we should all be able to appreciate the beauty of a dancer’s body, and if body parts happen to pop out, it should not be an issue because it’s all beautiful…. HOWEVER, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world loaded with sickos and perverts, and those out there ready to post pics and exploit a child.”

“When I was in high school I always said “no way” when an instructor brought up not wearing tights. I don’t know why, but tights were just a barrier from my body to the audience. I think part of it is that I never heard someone say “you’d look great without tights” or “you’ll still be beautiful.” Now, every time I bring up not wearing tights, or even wearing shorts instead of leggings, I have a lengthy conversation with my dancers about it and how they feel about wearing them (or not) on stage. The choreographer should be in tune to their dancers’ level of confidence and comfort. There is a difference between choreographing for professionals and choreographing for young girls who have very fragile ideas of their bodies.”

“This will be a conversation that will never end – can we agree it is up to the choreographer and hopefully based on costume and body types, they make the right choices. If you don’t use tights, please make sure your dancers are trimmed, glued and don’t show anything they don’t want us to see. I love seeing the muscles they work so hard on developing without tights, but I also use tights depending on the costume and dance genre.  Let’s let everyone make their own choices and support each other.”

In summary, the list seems to go something like this:

PRO TIGHTS

  • Clean body lines
  • Warmer muscles
  • Added layer of coverage/protection
  • Builds confidence and comfort on stage
  • Hygiene! Tights provide a light barrier between our skin and everything else in dance class. Besides the fact that we want to keep from spreading our sweat, open scratches and/or odors around the room, we also want to keep everything from touching us as well.
  • Protects dancers’ modesty
  • Finishes the look in a costume
  • Looks more innocent, especially on curvy dancers
  • Light compression improves circulation in legs
  • Completes a dance school dress code, adding to the professionalism and uniformity of dancers in class
  • Lessons the probability of a wardrobe malfunction
  • Filters the look of the leg- hides distracting imperfections- bruises, ashy skin, body hair, cellulite, etc.
  • Dancers who don’t wear tights typically must and/or choose to groom excessively- trimming, shaving, gluing, applying self tanner, using tanning beds- to look good and feel comfortable on stage. This is unnecessary for young dancers and can lead to greater questions about beauty and body image.
  • Dancers in a dance school are still in training. They are not professionals and should not be subjected to the life of a professional dancer yet. There’s plenty of time for that later.

ANTI-TIGHTS

  • Old school, outdated
  • During certain lifts or Acro tricks and partner work tights can add slip and take away from grip.
  • Modern, Contemporary and Acro dance styles should never use tights.
  • Dance tights aren’t inclusive enough. Now the manufacturers are getting smarter and offering tights in several skin tones, but that has not been the case for long.
  • Filters the look of the leg- there’s not a thing much more beautiful than a dancer’s muscular leg in motion. Dancers work very hard for their muscles, and seeing the engagement of the correct muscles while dancing highlights fabulous technique.
  • Professional dancers rarely wear tights, and we should be preparing our kids for the “real world” of dance.

I believe there are valid reasons both for AND against tights, and I wholeheartedly agree with the inclusion argument. However, during my dance training I experienced the many benefits of using tights. As a dancer with a professional dance team, we still wore tights while performing. As a parent, I recognize the fact that nobody wants to see children who look remotely unclothed. And now as I come full circle as the owner of Elevate Dance Center,  I strongly believe the pros to wearing tights absolutely outweigh the cons. EDC will continue to mandate tights as part of our uniform for Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Turns and Leaps and other classes as necessary, and hopefully now you feel educated and equipped on why tights matter for our school.

Thanks for reading, and never miss a chance to dance. -Miss Dena

What do you think? We’d love to hear your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Do With A Correction?

I absolutely love the “What Do You Do” collection of books written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom. They are beautiful to look at and such good advice for both children and adults. So far Yamada has written three books in this series and they are all incredible:

  • What Do You Do With An Idea?
  • What Do You Do With A Problem?
  • What Do You Do With A Chance?

I wish I could get Yamada and Besom to team up with me on a dance-inspired version called, What Do You Do With A Correction? I think all dance teachers worldwide would read it to every dancer age 2-100 from now until the end of time. It would become an immediate international bestseller and be translated into every language across the globe. I think I’ll try tweeting them when this blog post goes live.

Why? Because growing dancers often do not have a clue what to do with a correction. I can remember being a young dancer and getting all self-conscious and bunchy when my dance teacher corrected me. I remember holding my breath when she walked by and thinking, “No, no, no….”  My inward chant was a little prayer that I would not be corrected.  It wasn’t until I was 12 years old, a decade into my training and taking a class from the world famous Liz Imperio, that I learned what to do with a correction. She had just given me a tip to fix something in my dancing. Funny, I can’t remember the specific correction now, but I do remember her words that followed it. She must have sensed my prickling at the correction, because she looked me in the eye and in her commanding voice said, “If I do not give you a correction in my class, it is because I think you are a lost cause, and my correction will be wasted on you.”

Wait, what? If I were a cartoon character in that moment my eyes would have popped out of my head and rolled all over the floor while a thinking bubble of giant exclamation points floated above me. To date, I think that was my biggest a-ha moment of dance and also the one that has catapulted my personal and professional growth throughout my life.

I was transformed. Liz Imperio immediately changed my perspective on corrections, and suddenly I was clamoring for them in all of my classes. Liz taught me that a correction is a gift from someone who believes in you and your potential, and it should be accepted, honored and used with grace and appreciation. What a moment.

If I could convince Yamada and Besom to write my book, it would go something like this:

One day I went to dance class, and I received a correction. 

I didn’t want it. I didn’t ask for it. It was not enjoyable. But, I got one anyway. 

Why did my teacher hand this to me? “What do you do with a correction?” I wondered. 

It felt awkward and heavy. I was uncomfortable. I wanted to un-receive it. Set it down. Make it go away. I did not know how to handle my correction, so I gave it major attitude. That didn’t work. 

I tried ignoring it too, but that only made it worse. I kept receiving it again and again with more force after that. 

Well, I found what you DON’T do with a correction, that’s for sure. 

I started worrying about my correction. I began dwelling on it. It followed me home from dance class where I thought and thought about it. It started growing in size. It got so big, I didn’t know if I would fit out the door to get to dance class again. 

The next morning I woke up, and it was gone.  Phew. But when I walked into dance class again, there it was waiting for me. And it was bigger than before. It had even grown hair. Now I didn’t just have a correction, but I had a big, hairy correction. It got ugly. “What on earth do you do with this correction?” I worried. 

I started stressing about what the other dancers would think of me with this annoying correction following me around all the time. Would they notice? Might they get mad at me? My teacher sure had a look of annoyance on her face. This persistent correction did not seem to be making me any friends! 

One day I realized this correction was not going to go away on it’s own. I had to do something about it. I decided to face it head on. The next day, I went to dance class. When my teacher gave me the correction again, this time I imagined it was a not a big, hairy, ugly correction. Instead, I pictured a beautiful gift wrapped in colorful paper with a big shiny bow. I smiled at my teacher as she gave it to me, and just like the polite recipient of any gift, I said “Thank you.” 

I thought I saw a little twinkle in my teacher’s eye as I said it. I instantly felt stronger and more powerful. Wiser. It felt so good, I decided to take my correction to the next level. I unpacked it, twirled it around in my hands and studied it. I figured out how to use it, and suddenly my dancing was lighter, easier and so much better! 

So, now I know what you do with a correction. You accept it graciously and dance with it because corrections help you grow every step of the way. Then, you hope for more. 

 

 

acrobatic class will get the heart pumping as students dance

Conquering The Confidence Crisis

You belong. 

We are your people. 

This is your place. 

I spoke these words to a dancer the other night who skipped a class during our intensive because she had talked herself out of being good enough to go. I have noticed lately that I am having this conversation more often with kids and adults alike. Everywhere I look, people are convincing themselves they aren’t good enough- they can’t hang, they are undeserving, it just will never work out.

When did we find ourselves in such a confidence crisis?

Being a kid is harder these days. The tween and teenage years have the same problems they always did, but in our digital climate there is rarely an opportunity to unplug. There is an onslaught of information being thrown at our kids on a constant basis. They so are inundated with images of air-brushed famous people showing them how they should look, feel, think and act, that they’re losing their ability to do these things for themselves confidently and in their own way. They are always accessible to friends via texting and social media, so it’s harder than ever to silence the noise.

Our kids need a village. When we can tuck ourselves into a safe cocoon of a loving family, positive friendships AND a community outside of school and home that both challenges and accepts us- like a dance school-  then we have better chances to emerge from adolescence transformed for the better.

If we are to resolve the confidence crisis, we’ve also got to teach our children to militantly monitor their thoughts and be courageous.

Let’s take the case of my dancer who was scared to go to class. She has studied ballet only, but in the intensive she is signed up to take a bunch of different genres of dance. The class she decided to skip was a hip hop format. She was right to expect that hip hop would be wildly different than ballet. But, what went on in her head when she decided she didn’t belong? I can only guess her monkey mind started shouting  something like this:

Oh my goodness. Hip hop?! I’ve never even taken a hip hop class before. All of the other students will probably know so much more than me. I will look like I don’t know anything at all. They might even laugh at me. What if the teacher is mean? What if I don’t like hip hop? How will I ever survive this? What if I DON’T? That’s it. I’m not going. It’s not worth the risk.

If I could have turned her inner rant into a dialog, it would have gone more like this:

Oh my goodness. Hip hop?! I’ve never even taken a hip hop class before. Nope, you haven’t. Aren’t you excited to try something new? What if you like it?

All of the students will probably know so much more than me. Yep. That’s possible. So what?

I will look like I don’t know anything at all. Um, news flash- you don’t. You just said you’d never taken a hip hop class before. Also, do you know that for sure? Is that even true? Do you know each person on that roll sheet and exactly how much hip hop they’ve taken-if any? Besides, everyone in the hip hop class was once someone who had never taken a hip hop class before! So what? The beginning is an amazing place to be- you are a blank slate! You’re not a know-it-all, you’re going to be so coach-able and fresh, you don’t have any bad habits yet- this is awesome!

They might even laugh at me. Okay, Crazy Pants. Now you’re just getting worked up. Do you really believe that? Most of the kids in that room are already your friends from ballet class. Do you think they’d be mean to you on purpose? I sure don’t. And even if they did laugh at you- which they probably will not- so what? What is the worst thing that could happen? You won’t melt into a puddle and evaporate. It won’t kill you. Maybe you’d be embarrassed for a minute. Would that be the end of the world? Are you really going to skip class based on the idea that some pretty nice kids probably won’t laugh at you?!

What if the teacher is mean? Kiddo, give yourself a break. When was the last time you were in a dance class here where the teacher was mean to you? You’re talking yourself into a dark corner. Come into the light, and breathe. I have to ask you again- so what? She’s not going to throw you into a pit full of lions and snakes. What is the worst thing that could happen if the teacher is mean? Do you think you could survive that? I do.

What if I don’t like it? Ah, but what if you do? And even if you don’t, that’s still wonderful! You will have learned something new about yourself. Thomas Edison tried making the light bulb hundreds of times before he finally accomplished his task. Someone asked him- aren’t you upset that you’ve tried hundreds of times and failed? And he said, I haven’t failed at all! I’ve found hundreds of ways NOT to make a light bulb. I’m getting closer every time I learn.

Fine. I guess I’ll go. But if you’re wrong, I will be so mad at you. Noted. Good for you! Now get yourself in that room. It only takes 20 seconds of courage to walk in there. After that, the hardest part is over. 

I did not get to have that conversation with my dancer. All I got the chance to remind her was: You belong. We are your people. This is your place. However, I’m thrilled to report she went to hip hop the following week. She stood on her head, she did a back spin and she smiled quite a bit. Who knows if she’ll ever sign up for hip hop class, but I will mark that in the win column any day.

The next time you catch your child paralyzed by fear, try taking them through this kind of a “so what” exercise. Teach them to monitor their thoughts. They don’t have to judge, but rather be curious about the thoughts they’re thinking and ask themselves more questions to challenge the unproductive thoughts and build courage. This gives them the power and freedom to change their thinking and make a different choice rather than be a victim.  They can ask:

  • So what?
  • Do I know this for a fact?
  • Is it true?
  • Is it helpful?
  • What is the absolute worst thing that could happen?

Teaching our kids to ask these questions not only helps in everyday situations of fear and self-sabotage, but it also might come in handy during those scary peer situations they will all be sure to face someday. Our teens will be offered all kinds of opportunities to think about and make big hairy choices- drinking and drugs, decisions about their bodies and sex, what to do about school, what to do about friends and parents, and more. It’s a jungle out there, and we’ve got to teach our kids not to let their monkey minds be king.

No, choosing whether or not to go to hip hop class is not a life-or-death decision. But, it is good practice for when we do make those critical decisions. We cannot put our children into a bubble where nothing ever happens to them or challenges them. But, we can arm them. We can teach them to ask critical questions that will challenge their monkey minds and calm their thoughts from running amok. We can give them opportunities to exercise 20 seconds of courage. And we can tether them to a loving community- like their dance school- by showing them: You belong. We are your people. This is your place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Reasons Boys Should Dance

While I dance I can not judge, I can not hate, I can not separate myself from life.  I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance. – Hans Bos

The joy and sense of self we experience when we dance is something that crosses all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses and genders. The men in our society deserve to feel the bliss of movement to music just as much as the women. We need to encourage our sons to dance like we do our daughters. Here are the top 9 reasons why:

10. There is no escaping it. You know the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” It couldn’t be more true. All throughout life our boys will be faced with situations where dancing would be a great tool to have in the old toolbox… school dances, clubs, weddings… wouldn’t it be better if they had the courage and swagger to get out there?  

9. Dance is not necessarily taught in schools anymore. Remember the days of the dreaded gym class square dance? What about the elementary school plays and choirs? While dance standards remain a part of most school’s curriculum, often today’s teachers do not have the time, space or expertise to teach a “dance unit.” Specials classes are constantly threatened at every stage of education, and if we don’t expose our boys to the fine arts- music, theatre, dance- then they might not ever experience them. According to Scott Gormley in the Huffington Post, “This problem goes beyond ballet: we encourage perceived strength over all kinds of artistry and often force boys to play organized sports while diminishing the role of the arts in schools. As a society, we are failing not just ballet danseurs, but boys who want to be violinists or actors or sculptors.”

8.  Dance is a positive form of self expression. Our boys are not taught to feel their  feelings as freely as our girls. Dance allows boys to process emotions without words and gives them a safe place to express themselves.

6. Dance develops leadership skills and builds character in boys. Besides the obvious facing resistance from friends and even family in choosing to dance in the first place, dancing also requires our boys to learn how to take the lead, both literally and figuratively. “When one leads, one does it with strength, but also with gentleness. It is done with confidence, but not as subjugation. It requires the man to make decisions, to communicate his intentions clearly and then to invite the lady to join him.”

 

5. Dancing is fun and adventurous. “Because there are so few male dancers in relation to females, the jobs available to men are particularly significant.” Dance can take you around the world as you work with inspiring people and perform on stage and screen. On tour with Rhianna? Performing for the Queen of England? Starring in the next big dance movie? Why not?!

3. Dancing help us connect. Whether it’s in the form of music appreciation and understanding or cultural awareness, dancing helps our boys connect with society and art on a deeper level while building a strong sense of community.

2. Cool Factor. Yep, we went there. Dancing is plain cool. For all the bullying that can happen when a boy chooses dance, he is always the life of the party. Men envy him, and women want to be asked by him- everybody looks up to the confident guy on the dance floor.

And the number one reason why boys should dance? Girls. We live in a #metoo world. From a very young age dance teaches our boys positive gender interactions and allows for them to learn how to engage with the opposite sex in a way that is fun, appropriate and not at all sleazy. In medieval times a knight’s training included dancing- they were onto something there.

Besides the obvious and universal reasons why anyone should dance- improved health, strength, endurance, physique, fun, artistic expression- there are reasons unique to boys why dancing just makes sense. Let’s get those boys dancing today!

Sources

  • https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-gormley-ballet-boys-bullying-fathers_us_5b02ca77e4b0a046186e2954
  • https://www.danceinforma.com/2015/06/04/10-reasons-why-all-boys-should-dance/
  • https://restlesspilgrim.net/blog/2014/09/18/why-all-men-should-learn-to-dance/
  • http://www.lordsandladies.org/steps-to-knighthood.htm

5, 6, 7, 8….

5, 6, 7, 8….

That sound makes my heart race,
I have to move
My feet can’t be stuck in one place,
There’s nothing to lose

In my element, I’m free
Easy as 1, 2, 3
Just breathe
passion takes the lead

Take your chance
Hold your stance
No second glance
Just dance, dance, dance

-Poem by Brittany Lombardi

 

Dance training increases mobility, flexibility, core strength and balance

Top Ten Reasons Why Dance Is Incredible Cross-Training For Sports

Besides the fact that dance classes are just plain FUN, there are tons of benefits dance training offers young athletes.

Discover our Top Ten Reasons Why Dance Is Incredible Cross-Training For Sports.

10. Burn-out and dropout rates in youth sports are at an all-time high and escalating according to many sports psychologists. Some estimate the rate to be as high as 73%. Dance class offers an alternative and creative training to athletes.
9. Dance training establishes movement variety. It increases athletes’ fundamental movement base and overall athleticism by working all major muscle groups.
8. Dance training increases mobility, flexibility, core strength and balance, which can reduce the rate of sports injuries significantly.
7. Dancing increases coordination and spatial awareness, which can come in handy for athletes who must arrange themselves into formations and track a tiny ball or puck across a huge surface.
6. Athletes who dance enjoy the benefits of increased muscular strength, endurance, motor fitness and muscle tone. Jean Claude Van Damme is quoted as having said, “If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport.”
5. The cardiovascular benefits of dance cannot be ignored. In a study conducted by the University of Brighton, 30 minutes in a dance class can torch 300 calories.
4. Dancing increases bone density. Many NFL players have famously taken ballet lessons for decades. In 2013 Steve McLendon (pictured) said ballet kept his ankles, feet and toes strong, and helps you get away from knee injuries.
3. Dance training supports total body fitness and weight management.
2. Dancing is a 100 Year Skill. While the former athlete may not be able to pitch a fastball or run the bases at 80 years old, he will certainly still get up and shake it down at the grandkids’ wedding.
1. Dance training treats the whole athlete by offering physical, cognitive, emotional and creative benefits to the dancer.

Various studies in recent years have compared dancers with professional swimmers, cross-country skiers, runners, and the like, and the dancers always seem to come out on top. It was hard for us to narrow the list to only 10 reasons, but hopefully we’ve helped you see dancing in a new light with our Top Ten Reasons Why Dance Is Incredible Cross-Training For Sports.

Ready to try dancing yourself? See what all the fuss is about and claim your *7 Day Unlimited Class Pass by emailing us at hello@elevatedanceonline.com.

*New students only. Expires 8/31/18.

Sources/More Reading

  • https://coachingbest.com/reasons-to-incorporate-modified-ballet-training-as-cross-training-for-athletes/
  • https://www.livestrong.com/article/555930-how-does-dance-class-make-one-a-better-athlete/
  • https://www.livestrong.com/article/499961-exercises-competitive-cheerleaders/
  • https://www.sikids.com/si-kids/2016/08/02/twinkle-toes-nfl
  • https://www.livestrong.com/article/513813-what-kind-of-exercise-do-male-ballet-dancers-do/

 

 

Thanks to dance

Practice

We’re often told to “practice our dances,” but what does that really mean?

What does practicing at home look like if we don’t have a dedicated dance studio in our mansions? When can we fit practicing in to our busy lives? How much time should be spent in practice? These questions can leave us stalled, but here’s the great news- they’re actually pretty simple to answer!

 

Q. What should practicing at home look like?

A. You do not need to strap on your shoes and go full-out to practice your dances at home. Here are six simple ways to practice:

  1. Perform. Dance for your parents, friends or stuffed animals. You don’t even need the music- just talk, sing or count.
  2. Teach. Teaching is one of the best ways to solidify your own learning, so teach your dance to a sibling or some friends!
  3. Mark. “Marking” a dance means you walk through your dances as if you’re doing them, but you focus on the routine itself and not moving perfectly. You don’t have to turn your turns or jump your jumps- just think through the dance out loud with your body.
  4. Watch. At our studio, we have private youtube videos that are regularly updated. Watch your videos for review a couple of times- you don’t even have to get off the couch.
  5. Write & Read. Jot down some notes quickly in your dance journal after you’ve learned something new. Read your notes a couple of times during the week. Easy, peasy.
  6. Visualize. Lay in your bed at night and see yourself doing the dance with your mind’s eye. Since it’s in your imagination anyway, why not picture yourself dancing the best you’ve ever danced and receiving a standing ovation? Oh, and that spot where you blank out and can’t picture what’s next? That’s the part you’ll need to ask for help with the next time you have class.

Q. When can we fit practicing into our busy lives?

A. Embed practicing into stuff that’s already happening. For example:

  • Perform your dances for your family at the BBQ.
  • Teach your friends your dance during recess.
  • Mark your dances while you brush your teeth each morning.
  • Watch your youtube videos when you’re in the car or waiting in a line.
  • Write your new moves down BEFORE you leave the studio right after class.
  • Read your dances during your 20 minutes of daily reading homework.
  • Visualize your dances each morning before your feet hit the floor.

Q. How much time should be spent in practice?

A. If you can find only five minutes a day, it will make a world of difference. Pick a different way to practice each day to keep things fresh and ensure “stickability.” Commit to an amount of time you can practice consistently, and then do it no matter what. Practice should be fun, so don’t aim too high with your time or else you’ll risk turning into a chore or an unattainable goal. Some days you’ll have more time to practice than others- roll with it!

Remember, practicing is for you. Practice gives you a safe space to learn.

It allows you to try, fail, try some more, and ultimately grow. Home practice will allow you to make the most of your classes, because you will spend more time learning new things than reviewing old material. And finally, practicing builds muscle memory, which will give you confidence in performance so you can feel free and present on the stage. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and practice!