Dance class isn’t just for tutu-garbed little girls – the practice and discipline learned through dance can have lifelong, real-world benefits, explains Nancy Schroder.
Any dance technique, whether it is classical ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, or others, develops muscle tone, strength, flexibility, and jumping for cardiovascular fitness. A dancer is the ultimate athlete, as they must execute their movements without obvious effort, and yet the effort is immense. Dance is the study of form, and can be applied to many things in life, from workouts in a gym and social dancing, to working in a high-powered office or as a police officer on the beat. There is no doubt that dance helps with efficiency of movement in everyday life. Dance can be applied to anything, but the deeper benefits of the social and psychological aspects of dance are not initially seen. To be an achiever in life, one must first learn discipline, and the ability to apply oneself. Dance helps to develop the ability to practice regularly to reach a level that will make an impact, or change the status quo, to propel one forward in life, and to gain the skills and confidence to fulfil one’s personal goals. Dance teaches people to possess the stamina to carry on when it counts, in spite of fear, tiredness, or self-doubt. In dance class, a student learns about themselves, their expectations, limitations, and disappointments, and follows these lessons with growing determination. Within the dance studio, the student learns to work with others and to take on board direction in a healthy and positive way.
To add to the intellectual side of dance comes creative artistry: The expression of large emotions and the freedom and space to do so; to interpret a story physically in partnership with music, where one tunes into the sound, its rhythm and its feel. For young children, this merger of emotion, music, and story teaches so much, hidden among the skipping with pointed toes and marching like soldiers. For teenagers, the dance studio becomes a safe place for their changing mental and physical world. It’s a place to express the good and the bad in an environment where they are safe to express anger, fear, love, and passion, all accompanied by music that speaks to them on a personal level. Whether or not the intention is to be a prima ballerina, a musical theatre performer, or a commercial dancer, or to work as a lawyer, bus driver, or teacher, dance gives a lifetime structure of emotional, physical, and mental well-being that will see one through to old age. Dance can begin teaching of all of this early in life, in a fun and imaginative way.
Nancy Schroder trained at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet and Arts Educational Stage School in London and has worked in theatre, film, and TV. She is currently Artistic Director for KISS Theatre Co and Co-Director, with Penny Dodd, of Auckland Academy Of Dance (& Performing Arts).