Why Dance? When it comes to dance there are many reasons that different people in different cultures spanning the globe choose to dance. This article will explore some of the many reasons that people dance around the world and perhaps provide new incentives for you to dance your way through your days as well. Dancing for Religion Many religions around the world and throughout history have used dance in praise of their deities, in celebration of the seasons, and simply as an outward expression of joy. Christianity has mixed emotions when it comes to dance. Some religions feel that all manner of social dance can lead to forbidden actions or thoughts and tend to frown upon dance in general as a result while other Christian religions believe that there is a time, place, and purpose for dancing. Some have even incorporated dancing into their religious ceremonies (weddings as one example). Most will agree that dance is a matter of personal conviction within the Christian religion because of the heated debates that can arise on the topic. The Hindu religion dance is an essential form of worshipping the various aspects of the Divine. This form of dance is often mistakenly referred to as Classical Indian Dance though in reality it is a form of worship. There are different dances for the different deities as every god has a different preference. Even the religion of Islam has its own version of dancing for worship. Those who practice this form of dance for the sake of worship are often referred to as Whirling Dervishes. The Weapon Dance This is a form of dance that has a long history dating back to Spartan warriors preparing for battle. This style of dance has been used throughout history and around the world by many nations and cultures as preparation, training, and raising morale for imminent battle. Though no longer widely practiced, and certainly not as a precursor to battle, the history and ceremony of the Weapon Dance is not to be forgotten and still practiced in ceremonial events today to honor the way things have been done in the past. Native American Tribal Dances It is also worth noting that what has become commonly referred to as war dances by Native American tribes are quite possibly the very same weapons dances that have such a long and noble history around the world. Individual tribes had their own dances that were used when preparing to battle with other tribes, preparing for a big hunt, or preparing to defend themselves against constant invasion and relocation. War, or imminent battle was not the only reason that Native American tribes danced however. Dance held an important role in the worshipping of various gods as well as tribal ceremonies or individual expressions of prayer, grief, joy, or simply of embracing nature and become one with the world around them. Dance is essential to Native American heritage and culture. For Native American dance, the beat of the drum is an essential component. It is the drumbeat that drives the pace and the intensity of the dance. Competitive Dance Around the world there are those that dance competitively in all forms of dance. From recreational forms of dancing to spiritual forms of dancing the competitions are fierce and the competitors quite often dedicate their lives and the vast majority of their free time to honing and perfecting their particular forms of dance. In competitive dance there are judges who judge artistic expression, technical skills, costumes, and the uniformity or execution of movements. Those who dance competitively must be committed to their craft in order to remain competitive. Of course some people dance simply because they want to and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. There is really no bad reason to dance unless you are being forced to do so against your will. Otherwise when it comes to dance, the best reason to dance is because the music leaves you no other option but to dance. Why Not Dance? There are some religious taboos when it comes to dance other than religious reasons why on earth would anyone not want to experience the mind and body renewing energy that results from dancing? Truthfully, not all dancing involves the wearing of pink tutus and many forms of dance are quite masculine in nature so preserving masculinity cannot in any way be an adequate excuse for not dancing. When it comes to dance there are many interesting and amazing styles of dance that span the globe. From the weapon dances of old (which are a perfect display of virility and masculinity though not widely practiced today other than in ceremonial dance) to the grace and beauty of ballet or ballroom dancing there is almost certain to be some form of dance that should appeal to almost anyone on the planet. Native Americans had an excellent attitude and ideals when it comes to dancing. They danced for almost any reason and let the beat of the drum serve as their guiding spirit. Native Americans danced for worship, for rain, for joy, for grief, and to prepare for war. Their dances were heartfelt and as much a part of their individual natures as it was their tribal identities. Dancing was an essential part of their culture and heritage and is still passed on today though to a much smaller degree. While some religions discourage dance, others embrace dance as a form of worship and commitment to their deities. Some encourage dance as an expression of praise. Others dance for the joy of the blessings and bounty of their gods or in submission to their gods. Regardless the fact remains that dance plays a vital role in many of the world's religions. If you are a believer, I can think of few better reasons to dance than to express your beliefs in a physical form. Some people dance simply because they like music and enjoy watching other people dance. There are all kinds of fun dancing styles that can be practiced alone, as a couple, or as a part of a much larger group. In the United States line dancing and square dancing are excellent ways to dance as part of a larger group as well as many types of competitive dancing and as part of a ballet company or other type of competitive or professional dance company. Couples dancing to some degree includes square dancing but other forms of dance such as ballroom dancing as well. Singles dancing is pretty much reserved to competitive dancing and often requires years of practice in order to perfect. Some people devote their lives to this sort of dancing and still never manage to make their mark on the competitive dancing circuit. Dancing for fitness is another wave that seems to be taking the world by storm. There are many ways that this can be done and it is quite effective among those who would otherwise not exercise at all as well as those who simply love to dance. It is getting out of your seat and moving around to the music. Find a nice driving beat, close the curtains, and dance until you can no longer breath. It's a great way to get that much needed exercise while having fun and not even realizing that you are (gasp) exercising. Mind over matter is a great thing. If it doesn't feel like exercise then there is no reason for your body, mind, or spirit to protest, right? Dancing is becoming somewhat of a novelty sport around the USA and around the world. Reality television shows such as "Dancing with Stars" and movies such as the one with Richard Gere-Shall We Dance have made ballroom dancing popular and attractive to the average person who would have never considered this form of dance before. With so many wonderful reasons for a person to dance why on earth wouldn't you want to dance? The Wedding Dance Around the globe couples celebrate their unions with a wedding dance of some sort. Most religions, with the exception of those who still frown upon dancing, have some sort of wedding dance that is a part of this joyous event or the celebration of this event. This is much more than a simple dance. It is the dance that will begin your life as husband and wife. For this reason alone, many couples spend a great deal of time and effort choosing the perfect song to symbolize their love for each. Once decided, this is the song that is to be played for their wedding dance. Your wedding dance is one of the few memories of your wedding that you will have forever. Most of your wedding day will go by in such a blur of faces that there will be few moments that stand out above the rest. Your wedding dance however, is the one time during your wedding reception that you and your spouse are truly alone within the crowd. All eyes may be on you both but this is your moment together and no one else in the room should matter at this moment. This is the reason that most people will remember their wedding dance long after they've forgotten other details about their wedding. Some couples actually take wedding dance lessons in order to make sure that nothing goes wrong during their wedding dance. Many instructors often suggest that you use the shoes you will be wearing for your wedding as well as a skirt that is very similar to your wedding dress in order to actually get an honest feel for how you will be dancing on your wedding day. It is amazing how much of a difference the height of your shoes and the length of your skirt or train can make when it comes to dancing. These classes are very important for couples that truly want to have the fairy tale wedding experience though not necessarily practical for couples that are already working at the end of their budget constraints. Ballroom dance lessons will often suffice for wedding dance lessons and in many cases are much less expensive if you can take them at a local community center rather than taking private lessons. Group lessons are almost always more economical and can be a great way for you and your future spouse to learn to dance together in time for your big night and your wedding dance. If budgets won't even allow for this indulgence to make your wedding dance a little easier to handle you can always opt to purchase an instructional video or DVD. It would be great fun to practice your wedding dance together before the big night and it is a great way to have fun together as a couple even after the big night. You can find videos and DVDs that teach all manner of dance steps that you may find appealing. Otherwise you can always wing it. Pick a song you love, a dance you like and have fun without worrying about getting it perfect. You are beginning your new life together as a couple and who really needs the pressure of dancing perfect, right? It is also your day and that is one thing that far too few brides really realize when getting caught up in the pressure of creating the perfect wedding within a limited budget. The thing to remember when planning your wedding and your wedding dance is that you and your spouse to be are the most important people in the process. Do not allow yourself to feel pressured into something that you don't want in order to appease others. Make your wedding day and your wedding dance completely your own if you are not interested in or comfortable with the idea of taking lessons from someone else. You and your partner will be glad that you did what was right for you when all is said and done. The Incredible Importance of Dance Throughout the history of the world, dance has played a vital role in some of the most important and life altering celebrations and ceremonies that have existed. Battles have been fought and won immediately following weapons dances, Kingdoms have been one and lost and celebrated with dances. Kings and Monarchs have been crowned then celebrated with dances, and marriages have been consummated with dances of another kind. Dance has always been at the center of important events until recent history when it would seem that dance and the importance of dance to morale has been lost somewhere in the process. Dance these days seems to be limited to certain people in certain circumstances or only to those who engage in the art of dance for the entertainment of others rather than the simple joy of dancing for the sake of dancing. Dance is one of those things that should not be a footnote in the journals of the history of the world. When mankind looses the ability to dance for joy, there really is no reason for the race of mankind to continue on. The ability to dance, as an outward expression of emotion is one of those rare things that separates a man from a beast. Though the importance of dance seems to have been misplaced in the last century or so, we are seeing a rebirth of sorts for the love of dance and finally beginning to understand some of the more important issues that dance addresses. It is far more than something meant to entertain spectators. It should also entertain those that are doing the dancing. In addition to the entertainment aspect of dance, which should not be diminished, dance is also a physical activity. We live in a world where the expected lifespan of our children, is shorter than the lifespan of those who are already adults. The primary reason for this is a lack of physical fitness and an over abundance of weight. We need to lead by example and show our children that it is important to do little things that get us off our seats and moving around. Dance is a great way to do exactly that. Beyond this however, dance has other fitness benefits. By increasing your muscle tone and your blood flow by dancing you are giving your heart a 'battery boost' so to speak. Doing this on a regular basis will lead your heart to be a much healthier heart than if you were to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Dance also relieves stress and releases endorphins if your working up a good sweat so to speak. This makes you feel happy and relieves and reduces instances of depression. Another great benefit of dance to those who care is the fact that it increases muscle tone and gives your body a longer and leaner look over time and with consistent, disciplined training. Some have also noticed a renewed sense of grace and constantly increasing self-confidence. Of course, if these reasons aren't enough to convince you of the important role that dance can play in your life as well as in society then perhaps you should just get out there and dance. Try it out, see how much fun it is to dance for no reason other than to dance and then try to explain why we as a society do not need to engage in such activities a little more often. So You Think You can Dance If you are a fan of reality television chances are that you have heard of the hit show on Fox by the name of "So You Think You can Dance". If you are a fan of "American Idol" then this show just might also be of appeal to you. It is much like the wildly popular Fox hit, American Idol only the focus is on dance rather than vocal talents. Much like American Idol, So You Think You can Dance has an audition process by which the wheat is separated from the chaff so to speak. The first two episodes of the season are essentially clips from the audition process showing some of the hits and misses that have been encountered throughout the process of whittling down the numbers. It should come as no huge surprise that Simon from American Idol is also one of the creators for this show which is popular in its own right though not reaching anywhere near the wild success that American Idol has experienced. This show will use dancers with a wide range of background. From street performers to those that have previously held titles for their dancing skills, they begin on an even and level playing field and are eliminated as the competition intensifies and crowd expectations rise. The prize for winning on this series is $100,000 cash, a dancing role in the Las Vegas show of Celine Dion and a Hybrid SUV of their very own (I do applaud the efforts of the producers to make greener choices in this matter by the way). The show is actually quite interesting on a level that American Idol doesn't manage to capture. For one, it involves the pairing up of talent that hasn't worked together previously for the purpose of dance while competing against one another. Secondly, they lowest scoring couple is allowed the opportunity for one member to redeem himself or herself by performing solo for the judges. Obviously this makes for some interesting situations along the way. Yet another interesting fact about this show is that it throws the competitors into forms of dance that they are not likely to be familiar with against other performers who may very well be familiar and comfortable with the style of dance in question. All in all, when it comes to dance, the television show So You Think You can Dance is doing a great deal to educate its watchers about various styles of dance that they may have never otherwise encountered. If you have always wanted to learn a little more about the many styles of dance and to see others as they learn the ropes to some degree, then this is definitely a show you won't want to miss. I should also take this opportunity to point out that shows such as Dancing with the Stars on ABC also provides an excellent venue for education and entertainment when it comes to dance. In this series celebrities are actually paired with professional ballroom dancers and put through a ballroom 'boot camp' of sorts in order to learn the fine art of ballroom dancing then put through the wringer with judges and voters alike. In truth, any exposure to the wonderful art of dance is a good thing for many who are overcoming their preconceived ideas about dance. Selecting the Proper Dance Shoes If you've ever been to a wedding or prom in uncomfortable shoes you know the importance of this process. You absolutely must select comfortable shoes if you plan to be dancing for a long period of time. Having those gorgeous knock me dead heels is all well and good for the picture portion of your evening but when you're dancing you will want to be wearing shoes that you can actually move around in without wanting to cry. Besides who really wants to risk a mascara river for the after prom party? If you want to be sure whether or not your prom shoes will be comfortable for the big dance event try dancing around the house in them at all hours of the day and night. Make sure that there is no pinching, rubbing, or blistering as a result or your will spend the vast majority of your prom night sitting on the sidelines rather than dancing with your date. The same holds true for weddings. Pictures are all well and good, so is making that stunning entrance. At the same time there is nothing quite like being the last one standing when it comes to the dance floor. I am a firm believer in cute shoes. I am also a firm believer in having comfortable feet. Recommendations for heel height are that 2 inches are actually the best for providing arch support and foot health in addition to comfort. Yes, this means that this height is actually recommended over wearing flats. You'll also want to make sure there is plenty of room in the toe area so that your foot has a little breathing space without allowing room to rub and potentially blister. In other words a snug (but not tight) fit is preferable to shoes that fit loosely. You should have your shoes for the big event properly sized. If you just can't seem to part with the gorgeous 4 inch stilettos you found on sale as the perfect companion for your prom or wedding dress, then you should at least consider a back up pair of shoes that will be much more comfortable once the entrance has been make, the pictures have been taken, and you lose all sense of feeling in your feet. It is quite difficult to make complicated dance step when the voice in your head is screaming "Ouch! Ouch!" with every single step you make. Your shoes will actually affect almost every once of enjoyment you experience for the evening there is no reason you should wear uncomfortable shoes and be miserable for an evening that is supposed to be fun. You might want to check out dance stores in an around your hometown and see what they have to offer. They make shoes that are first and foremost designed to be danced in. They also make some very sassy shoes that are completely appropriate for formals and would be quite suitable to wear to a wedding or prom. You can find these shoes online though I recommend against this as you just can't get them properly fitted online and it doesn't matter how great they are designed if the shoes do not fit properly, they are quite likely to hurt your feet. The important thing is that you take the time to find shoes that you feel will be comfortable for dancing without sacrificing the look you are attempting to put together. Music About Dance While we all know that Jazz is as much a style of music as it is a style of dance, many people may not realize the importance that dance has played in music. There are many songs out there that mention the importance of dancing and yet we as a society seem to have forgotten the importance or limited that importance to a certain age group. Once we age it seems that we forget not only how to dance but also the intrinsic importance of dancing as well. "I Hope You Dance" is only one of many songs that relate the important role that dancing plays in feeding the human soul. If one thing in life is important for all, that one thing would be to dance whenever the opportunity arises. You never know when you will run out of opportunities to dance or find that you've squandered so many of them away. Take them as they come and your life will be filled with much greater joy than you may ever realize. Despite many other songs out there that may convey the message, there are very few that say it more concisely than this particular song. "When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you'll dance". Garth Brooks is another musician that had an excellent commentary on dance. His song "The Dance" chronicles not necessarily the importance of dancing but of participating. Given the choice, many who have lost their lives in some risky endeavor would more than likely tell those left behind that they would not have traded the dance for one more breath. The lyrics to this song are somewhat haunting "I could have missed the pain but I'd have had to miss the dance". Believe it or not all good songs that mention dance do not happen to be country songs. These honestly happen to be, in my opinion, the most poignant. Other great songs about dance include the song "Let's Dance" by David Bowie. The lyrics to this song include the stanza "Let's dance for fear tonight is all". The truth of the matter is that you never know and dancing is a great way to celebrate living. Music and dance for years have gone hand in hand and will continue to do so long after we've left this earth. At least that would be the hope. I would hate to see what a world without dance would be like. It would be like having children without laughter and that would be a sad world in which to live. If you want to keep your children dancing then you must teach them to dance. Teach them that it is okay to dance and be silly around the house. That it is okay to dance their way through their chores (hey if it makes them smile while taking out the trash I say go for it!). Teach them that dancing is a great way to express joy and that laughter is the best thing to follow their dance. Native Americans have a long and noble heritage when it comes to dance. They let their dreams beat out the heartbeat of Mother Earth and danced in companionship with nature. They danced for joy and sorrow, war, peace, and praise. I can think of no better example to follow when it comes to dance. Learning to Love to Dance Of all the gifts you can give your children in the world teaching them to love to dance is one of the greatest. Dancing is a great way to get your children active, keep them healthy, and in many instances, keep them happy. Throughout history dance has been said to be an outward expression of joy. I would think that joy and a way to express it is an excellent legacy to leave our children. Even Shakespeare understood the importance of dance and the joy that dance was meant to be the expression of: "To sing them too: when you do dance, I wish you A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do" --The Winter's Tale In these words, this was a wish of great importance and meant to be good fortune to the one that was the object of the affectionate wish. It seems that somewhere along the way however, far too many have forgotten the great gift that dancing really is for the mind, the body, and the soul of man and woman alike. Teaching your children to love to dance will give them the foundation for a healthy lifestyle that is lower in stress than many of their friends and acquaintances along the way will ever know. It will instill in them the value of discipline and dedication along with the sheer joy of simply moving to the music. Not everyone is meant to dance on a competitive level but I cannot possibly believe that we were designed as we were and not meant to dance. Learning to love to dance is also the greatest gift you can give yourself. Much like your children you need to bring physical fitness into your life. You need to reaffirm the importance of discipline in your life. Most of us need to relieve some of the stress that is in our lives and we all need to take a little more time for ourselves and concentrate on healing and renewing our own souls rather than spending all of our available energy nurturing and revitalizing others. We need to learn to love to dance as an outlet for pent up emotion as well as the opportunity to work out those things that drive us from within. We need dance as a method of battling with ourselves and as a way of expressing our personal joys and triumphs. Dance is an excellent means for all of these things and so much more. There is no such thing as being too healthy. Dance can help lower blood pressure, increase circulation, improve muscle tone, and simply make you feel more energetic and alive. There are very few things that can compete with the invigoration of dancing. Learning to love to dance provides you the perfect opportunity to improve your overall health and fitness level without feeling as though you have done something wrong in the process. This is no lose situation for those who have nothing to lose other than a few pounds that have lingered far too long. Now is the perfect time for you to begin the process of learning to love to dance. Once you've learned to love to dance you need to share that love and passion with those you love. This would be your friends and family. Dance together, play together, and live longer, happier lives together. Learning to Dance at Home There are many ways in which a person can learn to dance if he or she is of the mind to do so. The problem is that many people shy away from learning to dance, despite a sincere desire to do just that out of fear of being seen in the learning process. This is such a sad reason to avoid bringing the joy of dance into your life and one that can be so easily avoided if you are willing to make the efforts that would be required. First of all, you can learn to dance within the comfort of your very own home. You do not need a dance hall or studio with mirrors to learn to dance even though they are helpful to the process. In all truthfulness it is quite possible to learn to dance at home without even procuring a teacher. There are many DVDs and instructional tapes and videos on the market that can teach the basics of many different styles of dance. If you aren't sure what type of dance you are most interested in, it isn't a terrible idea to begin by ordering some DVDs in order to find out what specific type of dance interests you most. The really neat thing about doing this is that you can being the learning process in your very own home with the curtains drawn and no one will ever need to be any wiser. Of course if you are going to learn at home you might want to clue your spouse or partner in and see if he or she would like to join you on the path to discovering the joys of dance as a form of entertainment as well as a means of bringing an extra level of physical activity into your life. The really good news is that this sort of physical activity won't feel like exercise and if you play your cards right with your partner it just might lead to other forms of physical activity. Keep in mind that many people find dance to be a very romantic precursor to other romantic pursuits. Backing away from the romance department you can even find a great and occasionally merciless audience in your children. They also make great practice partners and guinea pigs and if you control the allowance, then you might even manage to squeeze out a compliment or two to help your potentially wounded ego through the event. Kids are great fun though when it comes to dancing and (younger kids anyway) are almost always willing to kick back and have a laugh at mom or dads expense. If you want to make a really fun afternoon of things, challenge your kids to a 'dance off' you just might be surprise at who is the last one standing. Learning to dance at home can be a rewarding experience if you apply the things you learn. Not only do you get the benefit of a new hobby but also you manage to do so without the uncertainty and insecurity that is often a common part of lessons. Having an audience can be a frightening thing, however, once you've passed the child test you should be ready for the most ruthless audience any dance studio can give. You should also keep in mind that other students in the class (should you ever decide you are ready to take an actual class) are probably just as nervous about their level of skill as you may be. Learning to Dance A nation-wide survey made by eighty leading psychologists proved dancing to be the best-known personality developer. According to the popular syndicated newspaper feature: "Let's Explore Your Mind," owned by the John S. Dille Company of Chicago, "There are no delinquents among children who study dancing." While it is true that you can learn to dance through a study of this book, nothing can really take the place of a dancing class, because in a class you have the companionship of others, the inspiration given by a good teacher, and the fun of sharing your enthusiasm as you develop perfection. This book, as a supplement to your lesson, will aid you to learn more rapidly, but dancing is a social skill and in a dancing class you can immediately start applying it socially. We are by nature gregarious creatures and we enjoy dancing best when we are sharing our pleasure. That is why group dances such as the Virginia Reel and the Square Dance will always be with us in some form. Besides being one of the oldest forms of art, dancing is probably the most universally popular. Anyway you look at it -- dancing is fun! Learning to Dance Regardless of your previous experience as a dancer, my advice is to start at the beginning of the book and study it throughout. Only by studying it from the beginning can you thoroughly understand it. By moving from the simple to the complex, the complex becomes simple. Also, let me caution you not to try to progress too fast. Many students, over-enthusiastic at first, attempt too much, then grow discouraged and stop. This is commonly referred to as "the curve of learning." We learn rapidly at first, then we hit a plateau where things seem to be insurmountably difficult, but if we persist and do not permit discouragement to deter us, we move on smoothly again. There is always this lapse after the first wave of enthusiasm. After this period, enthusiasm rekindles and progress will remain fairly constant. Learn to do the first simple steps well before taking up the more difficult steps. To learn to do these simple basic steps well, may seem trifling, but trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. Social dancing is more popular now than ever before. People have time for it. With each succeeding generation less time is needed to produce the necessities of life, more time is available to cultivate the artistic and social aspects of life. In medieval Europe, only the aristocracy learned to dance well. Dances took place in the courts of kings and queens. Dancing masters were patronized only by the very wealthy. Later it was adopted by the rich merchant class. In our time, it is possible for everyone to become an accomplished dancer. Dancing has been described as poetry in motion. By observing the similarity between the rhythm of speech, particularly as applied to poetry, and the rhythm of motion, as applied to dancing, anyone who can recite a simple jingle in rhythm can learn to dance. Occasionally a person will come to our studio and insist that he absolutely has no rhythm. We frequently ask such persons to read: "Mary Had a Little Lamb." After pointing out to them that they do have a sense of rhythm, or they could not have recited this poem in perfect meter, they develop confidence enough to apply themselves to learning rhythm of movement. I have never met a person who could speak, who could not recite poetry rhythmically. Reciting poetry, naturally, is easier for most people than moving the body in perfect rhythm. Some people learn to coordinate more easily than others, but with practice it can be learned, and it is simply not true that you, or anyone else, cannot learn to dance because you do not have a sense of rhythm. If you are a beginner who has never danced at all, you can, if you apply yourself, learn all of the steps presented in this book. If you are already enrolled in a dancing class, you can use this book as a supplement and as a guide for practice at home. In dancing, as in any other art, practice brings perfection. If you are an advanced dancing student, or a teacher, you can find aid and inspiration here by acquiring a new viewpoint, as the author has found valuable aid in the dancing books he has studied throughout his career. Dancing is fun. Unfortunately, however, many persons miss out on this fun because they do not dance well. Girls are apprehensive that they will not be able to follow their partners. Men are worried about stepping on their partner's toes. Many persons are reluctant to try to learn to dance, because they believe they do not have a sense of rhythm. This is regrettable, for all of us have a sense of rhythm. Rhythm is one of the governing laws that makes for order in the universe. Rhythm appears in many phases. The competent typist has rhythm; the public speaker, the musician, the author all make use of rhythm in the practice of their arts. Even the engine in our automobile has rhythm -- it must fire in perfect time to operate successfully. While it is true that some people find it difficult to express their innate sense of rhythm, this is due largely to some form of inhibition. Primitive man, completely uninhibited, found it easy to stomp his feet to the beat of a tom-tom, giving expression to his sense of rhythm. We do not dance in such an abandoned manner because we feel ridiculous to let ourselves go so completely. Our desire to express rhythm is tempered by our feeling that we do not know how to dance as well as others. Even after learning a few of the simpler steps, some people are still afraid to relax and keep time to the accompanying music because they fear they will make a mistake and be ridiculed. This fear of criticism and ridicule can be so overpowering as to cause certain persons to become immobile. If the desire to dance is thwarted often enough, a psychological block can be set up in the nervous system which leads to discouragement and a desire to stop trying, and these folks say, "I have no sense of rhythm." Learning to dance is fun -- and it is easy. In a sense it is like learning a new language -- a language in which moods and emotions are expressed in movement; a language of rhythm, grace and harmony. It is new -- but in a very real sense it is the oldest language in the world, for dancing is the oldest form of art. We know people danced as far back as the beginning of recorded history. The dance appeared in various forms in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Dancing gives expression to a deeply rooted emotion in man so profound as to border on reverence. This is evidenced by the fact that some early dances were a part of religious rites. The Bible mentions dancing in numerous places -- one of the most frequently quoted verses being that taken from the 150th Psalm: "Praise ye the Lord in all your songs and dances." There is an instinctive urge in all of us to express rhythm. Primitive men satisfy this urge by beating drums and dancing around a campfire until they drop from sheer exhaustion. We, of the civilized world, satisfy this same instinctive urge in a more cultured way. We dance in a conventional manner to rhythmic music and conform to certain set patterns. We observe the rules of conduct that society has set for us. Dancing is a wholesome, natural outlet for the emotions. It develops grace and poise, timing and balance. Men take pride in their ability to lead their partners with assurance and poise. Girls enjoy the ability to follow their partners smoothly, expertly and correctly. The ability to dance develops personality, and above all -- it is fun. Learn How to Line Dance There is a style of dancing that is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. While you are far more likely to see a line dancing contest at Gilley's than on ESPN or any other sporting event network, it doesn't make it any less valid as a dance or even as method of bringing fitness back into the everyday. Line dancing has been associated primarily with country music for a long time-best estimates say since the 170's. The good news with line dancing is that there aren't too many rules other than keep trying and don't spill your beer if you can help it. Otherwise if you are willing to get stepped on for going the right way or being stepped on by those going the wrong way, it's a great way to spend an evening. Line dancing is great for many laughs and a lot of fun. It is however, much more fun if you go in a group rather than going it alone. This is one form of dance that you truly must try before you can decide whether or not you will like it. I can honestly say that watching others participate is not nearly as fun as being right in the middle of them all and watching them participate. The good news for those who aren't clued in as to the latest steps, twists, turns, and maneuvers, is that most other line dancers began their journey somewhere else as well and are rather patient and often willing to teach those who are less knowledgeable. Of course if they are anything like me, they are so delighted to find someone less knowledgeable that they are almost giddy at the prospect of sharing their knowledge. Even better for the utter novice is that most clubs offer lessons before things got really hopping. In fact, most of these clubs will offer these lessons for no extra charge in hopes of selling you a nice cold one or two before prime selling time kicks in. You can also find local groups that often offer line dancing classes in an alcohol free environment for those who consider this an important consideration and for some of the younger crowd that might find line dancing to be of interest. Line dancing is a style of dance that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. This is one thing that makes it so widely appealing. You can find line dances at county fairs, local festivals, and even church raffles on occasion. Line dancing is quickly becoming a 'heartland' sort of entertainment that is enjoyed even by those who aren't traditionally country music fans. Believe it or not ladies, line dancing is also an excellent way to talk your fellow into dancing with you. Believe me when he sees you on the line with all those other guys he's most likely going to want to step up and stake his claim. Of course, it's also a great way for couples to have fun together even in the middle of a crowd. Line dancing is great fun almost any way you look at it. If you are new to the notion of line dancing there is no time like the present to head out and get acquainted. You just might find a great new hobby that also happens to burn a few calories in the process. Learn How to Dance If there is one thing in life that is sure it is this. No one is born knowing how to dance. We all have an inner sense of rhythm and quite frankly some have it and some simply do not. It is true that not everyone is meant to dance competitively and some will never refine their skills enough to make their way out of the mosh pit. However, there are those who have that inner sense of balance and rhythm. With proper instruction and the right inspiration these people have the potential to become phenomenal dancers. Learning how to dance is a process that works differently for different people. Some learn best by one on one instruction. Others manage to learn simply by watching others dance. Some require a little bit of competition in order to properly motivate themselves to push their limits and really give dancing their all. The good news is that there are dance lessons and classes that are appropriate for all different learning needs when it comes to dance. That being said, in order to dance on a competitive level it is quite likely that you will need to incorporate a little bit of all different methods of teaching and learning for the best possible results. There is nothing wrong with watching others dance and learning and deriving inspiration from the moves they make. You can also discover flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes by watching others dance and learn from those as well. That being said, you will never learn as much from merely watching other dancers or instructions on a video tape as you will in a classroom or one on one environment. Dance is fluid and there are certain technicalities to the steps but there are other things involved that mark the difference between a dancer with some degree of technical skills and a truly great dancer. Some things have to be pushed and prodded from within you and only a qualified instructor can really accomplish that. The thing is most, who want to be dancers, should not settle for simply learning how to dance. They need to learn how to feel the music and use the music and their bodies to tell a story. That is what dance is about. Not the execution of even complicated movements. Dance should be an emotional outlet more than anything else. This is the way dance has been throughout history. It is only in the last century or so that we have turned dance into a sport rather than an art form and it has lost some of its potency as a result. Those who truly understand that real dance is delivering a message rather than delivering movements however are the successes that simply can't be matched. If you wish to learn to dance, you need to carefully consider your reasons for doing so before deciding on your method of learning. I strongly recommend a little of all the different methods. One thing to keep in mind however, is that if you learn from more than one instructor you will be chided for needing to unlearn bad habits. It's an ego thing I believe. Most instructors prefer rank novices so that they do not have to 'unteach' any bad habits. Otherwise, you should choose the instructor that you feel will not only teach you how to dance but also encourage you to dance to the fullest of your potential. Those are a little more difficult to come by. Jazz as Dance While few people understand the true origins of Jazz as a music form, fewer people still understand the origins of jazz as a style of dance. Jazz is very much a fatherless child. More than that however, jazz as music and dance seem to have many mothers despite the fact that they have no father. By this I mean that there are many influences to this colorful form of music and dance though no one influence is notable enough in the new creation to be considered the 'father' or 'mother' for that matter of jazz. Though jazz has many supposed birth places it really only has one true home and that home would be New Orleans. Much like the music this city is famous for, New Orleans is a city without a father too. New Orleans was a melting pot in the truest sense of the word before we had any real clue what it meant to be a melting pot. From the influences of the French, Spanish, German, English, and of course the population of former slaves and black free men and women, New Orleans was the perfect place for this blended and mixed style of music and dance to call home. It is no wonder that jazz dance emerged as the result of jazz music. There are simply no adequate dance steps for the delightful music we have come to know over the years as jazz. For this reason something new and a little bit off the main path was needed in order to keep time and pace with the new music that was emerging. As a style of dance, jazz was much more 'brazen' than dances in the past had been and in some circles considered to be singly unseemly. Polite society certainly had no interest in this particular form of dance. The good news for those who enjoyed this style of dance is that there were plenty of places in which jazz, as a form of dance and music, was readily embraced. You had to go off the beaten path a little in order to find it but for many it was well worth the effort. Jazz music and dance was popular for quite a while and then seemed to go underground except in cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, Kansas City, and St. Louis where it was an ingrained part of the history and culture. We have seen a reemergence of this once popular style of music and dance in recent years however with some notable musicians bringing back the swing and 'big band' sound that went hand in hand with jazz as both a music form and a style of dance. You should understand however, that when it comes to jazz dance, much like the music, there are no definitive rules that you must follow in order for it to be jazz. There are no rigid dance steps that must be adhered to for the 'jazz' effect. Jazz dance is often confused as 'tap dance' because tap music was often set to jazz music. It is important however to realize that jazz isn't limited to tap dance and that other styles of dance fall under the rather large umbrella of 'jazz dance'. Some of the more common jazz dances include: Black Bottom, Boogie Woogie, the Cakewalk, the Charleston, the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop, and swing dancing. Each of these styles of dance seems to be making a rather remarkable comeback in popularity over the course of the last two decades and are very interesting to watch, as well as in which to participate should you ever have the opportunity. If you have considered jazz dance lessons for you or your children, I hope you will decide to indulge. Not only is the music for this type of dance excellent and uplifting but also the style of dance in and of itself is quite fun and enjoyable. There are very few styles of dance that can compete when it comes to allowing artistic license, going with the flow, and simply dancing for the sheer joy of dancing. As an art form and as a form of entertainment jazz music and dance are tops in my book. Irish Step Dancing If you are looking for something a little new and different when it comes to dancing, have you considered Irish step dancing? I'm sure that many of you have heard of if not seen shows such as "Riverdance" and other shows that display this beautiful and unique form of dance. "Lord of the Dance" is another example of great Irish step dance though it brings a more modern twist to the audience. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience this dance sensation live you should really make an opportunity to do so. This style of dance is like none you've probably ever seen before. It is beautiful and at the same time almost inconceivably difficult to make the moves that are required and show so little effort. The energy involved in these performances is nothing short of amazing. Young and old alike are being taken by storm when it comes to this sort of dance. The music is inspiring and fun as are the steps and kicks that are done with such ease by the performers. If you are looking for a great way to get a good aerobic workout, see if there is a class in your area. This is a high energy form of dance and that should be remembered however you will get an excellent lower body workout in addition to the aerobic benefits. You will also burn a good many calories in the process. This is a style of dance that simply looks fun. Whether you are watching or participating the excitement and energy level is almost visible. It is nothing short of amazing to be in the audience for one of these shows. It should be added that while not all Irish step dancing requires the skill and energy that is seen in the major productions such as the ones I've mentioned above, there is still a good degree of energy in all forms of Irish step dancing. This energy is what makes this style of dancing so appealing. Young girls, teens, and women across America are discovering for themselves what a wonderful form of dance Irish step dancing really is. These classes are a little more challenging than some other forms of dancing may be because they require the steps to be made in line with other students in the class. You rely on each other and must keep pace with the music. It is a wonderful challenge that also helps students of this style of dance learn to work together in addition to developing and refining their own Irish step dance skills. There are solo dances but for the most vivid affect these dances should be done as part of a larger group. It truly is a stunning sight to behold. If you have a passion for music and energy then perhaps Irish step dancing classes would be a good mix for you and your fitness and dance needs. It is a beautiful style of dancing that is not only fun to watch but also fun to perform. You will work with a larger group and learn to work together for the greatest possible effect. Of all the styles of dance that are enjoyed around the world today, this is one of the most interesting forms of group dance I've ever encountered. If you want to be a part of something much larger than yourself, this is a great way to do just that.
Ice Dance for Those Who Love a Challenge For those who love to dance but would like to try something a little more challenging, there is always ice dance. This is a form of figure skating that also incorporates some of the rules and moves of ballroom dancing into the mix for a little bit of an added challenge and a few more restrictions when it comes to moves and creative license than traditional figure skating allows. Ice dance also requires music that has a definitive beat or style of rhythm, which offers a few more restrictions than traditional figure skating. Ice dance can be done for fun and enjoyment or as part of a competition. The competition in this fierce though somewhat new (to American audiences at any rate) is quite fierce among dominate skaters and world leaders in the field much like traditional figure skating. Ice dance is a beautiful and fluid form of dance that many consider to be even more graceful than either traditional ballroom dancing or traditional figure skating. The technical skills as well as the strength of each partner in this form of dance are extremely demanding and in order to become or remain competitive in this style of dance one must constantly work to home and improve one's skills. If you have never had the opportunity to watch ice dance whether on television or live, I suggest you take the next available opportunity to do so. Ice dance is a great way to spend the evening. It's a big hit with the girls if you happen to be a guy. If you happen to be a dad of daughters it will make you a hero in their eyes as well as giving them other dedicated and hard working men and women to look to as heroes as well. Whether you are all that thrilled by the dips, twirls, lifts, and flips you cannot deny the dedication to craft and sport that these skaters must endure in order to remain on top of their games. I can think of few better heroes I would rather have for my children than athletes who dedicate so much time, energy, and effort to their sports. Watching ice dance is a fun way for many to spend an evening at home. However, watching ice dance live is that much more intriguing to many fans and spectators. There is an energy and oneness with the crowd that simply cannot be relayed through the television screen. Being one of the spectators at a live ice dancing competition is almost as exciting for me as being at a live sporting event such as a football game or race. There is an electric energy that goes along with being a part of the crowd of spectators that is impossible to match on screen or through any other medium. There is a huge difference in hearing the roar of a crowd or thunderous applause through your television set and hearing it all around you as you sit in the middle. It's a truly amazing and humbling experience. Ice dance is a highly competitive sport. If you have a child that is interested or you are interested yourself be prepared to invest a great deal of time and money into any serious competitive efforts that you may have in your future. As you have probably gathered this is a partnered competition. You must have a partner in order to truly compete. This, for many is an added source of time and effort. Not all partners are immediate hits with one another and the chemistry is not always there. Plan to invest a good deal of time and effort into finding a good partner for your ice dance efforts if this is a sport you seriously wish to pursue. If you just want to participate as a spectator however, there is no partner required and a great deal of entertainment to be had. I Hope You Dance There are many things in life we can do to show emotions and let others know how we feel. Some people sing, some people write poetry and prose, some retreat within themselves and hold it all inside. Others dance. Dance has for centuries been a way to express a wide range of emotions. It is an excellent outlet for the emotions that at times our minds simply cannot process. Dancing is a method in which you can work through those emotions and to some degree move on with your life in spite of emotional upheaval. Believe it or not, many people believe that belly dancing (or Oriental Dance) brings not only emotional healing but also physical healing for some conditions. Dance is well known as a form of exercise but belly dancing is a type of dancing that is body friendly. This means that you do not need to be in the best of physical shape to enter into this sort of dancing. You will not have to worry about stress on your joints due to high impact moves that other forms of dance require. You should also note that the movements in oriental dance these moves are smooth and natural. Among the health benefits you can experience through Oriental Dance are improved circulation, lower blood pressure, improved joint health, and the burning of calories. Some believe that in addition to the health benefits mentioned above that Oriental Dance can also help improve whiplash symptoms and back problems. If you are considering belly dancing to address these sorts of symptoms you really should consult with your doctor before doing so and make sure that you have a highly qualified instructor. When it comes to Oriental Dance, physical healing isn't the only sort of healing that is often experienced. Many dancers also find themselves letting go of the stress and tension in their lives as well as some quite traumatic issues that have been in their past that may continue haunting them long after. For this reason, Oriental Dance is sometimes recommended for treatments of emotional issues as well as physical ailments. There are vides such as Healing Dance that will allow you to learn some of the basic moves at home. However, if you have the resources within your community there is really nothing that can replace taking dance lessons with a group of women. You will find that these women come in all shapes and sizes and from all sorts of financial, physical, and spiritual backgrounds. It's a solidifying experience to join with other women for the sake of physical and/or emotional healing such as an Oriental Dance class will provide. In addition to the Oriental healing dance there is also the African healing dance. This is a little more high impact in nature and focuses on healing through expressions of joy. This is a very uplifting form of dance and one well worth considering if you would like to focus on feeling happy and energetic and renewing your joy for living but prefer something that offers a little more impact than the Oriental style of Dance for healing. There are also healing water dances or hydrotherapy that are often used in helping people with specific injuries. These sessions are low impact though there is some degree of resistance offered through the water for great results. You should make certain however that if you are considering this sort of dance you have a qualified instructor and if possible one on one attention. For many common ailments, there is a good chance that some form of dance exists that could aid you in recovering from your ailment. Additionally, there are often classes offered for groups in your area. If you are considering learning to dance in order to improve your quality of life or just your enjoyment of life in general, I for one hope you dance. Dancing Through History Through history we have seen many evolutions of dance. Some of these ancient dances and rituals are still practiced today by those who honor their religious or cultural histories while many have sadly been lost throughout the ages. One thing however remains constant. Dance has always played an important role in the societies, great and small, of the world. Dating back to the beginning of recorded history dancing has been a vital part of society. Dance was involved in celebrations and preparations for war. Dance was part of rituals and ceremonies of worship. Dance was part of life and we live in a society today that seems to increasingly label dance as a form of entertainment more than a way of life. Perhaps that is part of the reason we have a growing awareness when it comes to depression because fewer people are experiencing the joy of dance. Did you know that the Spartan warriors used dance in their preparations for battle? They incorporated a 'weapons dance' that was designed not only to familiarize themselves with their weaponry but also to help them be more agile when using them. Believe me when I say that very few ever dared question the masculinity of Spartans on the battlefield. These soldiers were prepared for war and a large degree of that is the result of their weapon dances as mental and physical preparation for the art of waging war. With the Spartans war was most definitely an art form. Oriental Dance was common during what has become known as Biblical times and remains today a very noteworthy form of dance. In fact, Oriental Dances, also referred to as Belly Dancing, seems to be experiencing a rebirth of sorts as its popularity has spread around the globe in recent years. This style of dance has been used as part of religious ceremonies as well as to entice lovers and incite lust and in some cases to represent fertility. Oriental Dance has a long and intriguing history that is well worth further study if you are of the mind to do so. In Medieval times dance was a social requirement by those of means or holding status. In fact, what we know as ballroom dancing today began during this period and has evolved a little over the years while holding true to its original form to some degree. The church at the time however frowned on dancing though many members of the church not only tolerated dancing but also participated in these dances. After a great deal of pressure from the populace the church did eventually accept and embrace dance. The movements for the medieval dance steps were said to be rather simple and repetitive. While some of the dances of the day were performed by couples there were many processional or line dances that were popular during this period as well. Who knew the line dancing had such a long and distinguished history? As times have evolved so has dance. In today's society dance is often limited to competitions, festivals, and parties rather than the prominence it once held in society. The good news in all this is that dance is no longer for some in society an activity that is solely reserved for the wealthiest among us. Though access to dance lessons, classes, videos, etc. is by no means solid proof that they will be utilized the fact remains that very few cities in the United States do not offer dance classes that are at least marginally affordable for those who participate. Competitive dance is another matter all together however and can bring a significant price tag to those who are unaware or caught off guard. Recreational dance however, often costs little more than the music required with which to dance and the will to dance deep inside. We live in a nation of opportunity, do not squander the opportunity we have to incorporate the simple pleasure of dancing into our daily lives. Dance to Your Health We as a world are more aware than ever of the importance of physical fitness to our overall health. While we remain aware of the need for physical activity far too many of us find far too few reasons to incorporate physical activity into our daily lives and routines. There are many reasons that we procrastinate in this particular effort. For some time is the defining factor while others will readily admit that they have no appreciation whatsoever for those activities that come to mind when exercise is considered. Whatever your reason for not incorporating exercise and physical activity into your daily routine, have you considered dancing for your health? There are all kinds of wonderful reasons to dance though I can think of very few that would be better than dancing for the sake of your health and physical well being. The good news when it comes to dancing is that in most instances it doesn't feel as though you are getting exercise and the burning of calories doesn't sting nearly as much when you're having fun burning them. Dancing has evolved a great deal and while the history of dance is a long and noble history. Even, one might add, a quite manly history for those men who haven't considered dancing in the past. Benefits of Dancing In addition to burning calories, a good thing for dieters everywhere, dancing also helps strengthen your muscles and bones. It can provide either a low impact or high impact workout according to your wishes and the music you select, it can be entertaining and feel like fun rather than a chore-this means you are more likely to actually do it than many other exercise programs, and it can help tone all areas of your body rather than focusing on one particular area as many exercises do. Dancing also provides an excellent opportunity to socialize and meet others if you take classes while in the process helping you gain a better sense of balance and grace (those like me who have absolutely no sense of grace could greatly benefit from this alone). Dancing, and the physical activity alone can help you ward off potential illnesses that are often associated with excess weight and too little physical activity. Even as little as thirty minutes of dance 4 days a week can bring about profound results when it comes to your overall health and well being. More importantly however than any of these benefits of dancing mentioned above dancing is fun. This means that you will enjoy life a little, laugh a little, and accidentally work a little physical fitness into your life without feeling as though you are suffering for the sake of doing so. So many people get very little physical activity because they do not see physical activity as fun. If you are wondering what sort of dance is right for you, there are many from which to choose. Square dancing is great fun for couples as are ballroom and swing dancing. Line dancing, contra square dancing, clogging, and tap dancing can be great fun in larger groups or as a participant in a class. If you want something a little sexier for your dance efforts you can always try Salsa dancing, Flamenco dancing, or belly dancing. If you live in or around a relatively large community it is quite likely that you can find classes or teachers for private lessons for each of these forms of dance quite easily. You do want to make sure that anyone you take lessons from knows what they are doing. You can also look in your local paper for square dancing groups or bars or clubs that offer line dancing classes on designated nights during the week. Whether you have been dancing all your life or are a rank novice when it comes to dancing, this is a great way to bring physical fitness into your life and improving your health without feeling as though you are really working for it or experiencing a sense of dread at the very thought. Dance for Fun We all have things in life we love to do. Some of these things we love more than others. Dancing is something that many of us, as we age, forget to make the time to enjoy. However, dancing is one of those simple pleasures in life that can also remind us to smile, to play, to spin around until we get dizzy, and most importantly to enjoy the simplicity of having fun without the worry of work, family, or finances getting in the way. It costs very little in most homes to simply turn the radio on, draw the shades and dance. You can dance with your significant other, your lifelong partner, and even your children. You do not have to worry about anyone watching and if they are watching you should take pity that they are spending their time worrying about what you are doing rather than dancing around and enjoying life to its fullest. Native Americans had the right idea when it comes to dancing. Let the beat be your guide and simply dance. They danced as a means of worship, to express submission to their gods, to exalt their gods, to display their joy, and as an outward expression of grief. They danced for love and they danced for war. Dancing to them was as natural as walking is to many of us and important means of expressing themselves not only as individual people but also as part of a larger and unified group. If you have never danced for fun, it's time to check out the various styles of dance and see what appeals to you as a style of dance. There are many types of dance and many different styles of music for those various styles. Line Dancing Line dancing is a style of dancing in which dancers line up and dance together by making the same dance steps at the same time. It has swept not only the nation but is quickly making its way around the world as an excellent source of dancing fun. It's also a great way to socialize and meet new people. While line dancing was primarily limited to country music in the beginning it has quickly made its way into other styles of music as well. Many bars, dance halls, and clubs will offer line dancing lessons on slow business nights in order to encourage extra business. Line dancing can be enjoyed by both men and women. Square Dancing This style of dance has a rather long history and has experienced a good degree of evolution over the past couple of decades. While it was once reserved for hoe downs and such square dancing is quickly becoming a hobby for many people across America and a great way to spend an evening and get to know others who share this hobby. This style of dancing is best enjoyed by couples and can be such great fun if you let your hair down a bit while participating. Belly Dancing Belly dancing can be enjoyed by men and women though it is most commonly associated with women. Unless you include the appreciation that goes alone with watching rather than participating and in that case the men may actually outnumber the women. Belly dancing is a very exotic and erotic form of dance that is almost always an audience thriller. It may take years to perfect your belly dancing moves and many study this style of dance their entire lives but it is a great physical activity that is a lot of fun. Dancing for fun is not only the best reason to dance by far, but it is far too often not the reason that people dance. People dance for competition, for exercise, and for many other reasons but not nearly often enough do we make the moves simply for the pleasure of doing so. If I could make one suggestion to everyone reading it is this. Go out and dance for the sheer joy of dancing. Dance for Children When it comes to our children, we want to give them the world. Many little girls and some little boys show an early interest in dance and you should not worry about gender stereotypes at young ages especially. The benefits of dance for children far outweigh any potential stereotyping that may come about as the result. Children, whether male or female can learn many things from dance classes that go far beyond practical applications in their dancing. These life lessons are part of the appeal of dance classes to parents around the world. Dance Teaches Important Lessons Much like team sports, dance for children can teach some invaluable and important lessons. Discipline and self-control are very important character traits when it comes to dance. You must practice and you must hold yourself in the proper positions for the moves you need to take. Your child will also learn to take turns, to share attention, and to cooperate with others. These are very important skills for a young child to develop and dance classes are often offered for children at a much younger age than many team sports. Your child will also learn the importance of being a part of a group as many dances involve everyone in the class. Dance classes also teach your children about music, rhythm, and beat. Your child will become more coordinated as the result of their dance classes and these classes are a great way in which to encourage physical fitness and exercise. By teaching your child early in life the importance of movement and fitness you will instill in him or her the tools he or she will need in order to remain physically fit throughout the course of his or her life. Dance for children will also help build self-esteem in your child as he or she accomplishes new goals and tasks each week. You should watch closely however and make sure that this isn't backfiring by having your child in a style of dance that he or she finds frustrating. While you do want your child's dance classes to present a challenge you also do not want them to be so much of a challenge that your child isn't enjoying them either. You should also keep in mind that if you are considering a long-term commitment to dance classes and competitive dance, the financial commitment could be significant. This is not a cheap alternative to team sports. In fact, quite the opposite is true at older and more competitive levels of dance. Not only are the financial commitments serious but also the commitment of time. Dance is a wonderful method for teaching your child many important skills that will greatly help develop the character of your child. That being said you should be aware that if this becomes something in which your child is exceptionally talented, you might find that the costs are more than you had imagined. You will also find that there are many different types of dance that are offered for children. Among some of the more popular are ballet, jazz, tap, ethnic dances, hip hop, and belly dancing just to name a few. Younger children will probably take a few creative movement classes rather than jumping into one specific style. This gives your children a chance to experience different styles of dance and to discover which moves are more enjoyable and natural feeling to them. All in all, dance for children is a great way to build invaluable social skills. Much more importantly however, it is an opportunity to teach your children the importance of being part of something larger than themselves. This is something far too few children really understand and that will serve them well as they grow and become adults. If you are looking for an excellent studio that teaches dance for children you should really concentrate on those studios that place an emphasis on personal development for your child more than competitive opportunities, particularly in younger years. As your child's talents and enthusiasm for dance grow you can always choose to move your child to a more competition focused studio. Dance Dance Revolution Those who aren't big fans of gaming systems may not realize that Dance Revolution is actually a video game for the Playstation 2 gaming system that actually has taken the industry by storm. It was one of, if not the very first attempts of the gaming industry to combat the idea that playing games robbed children of the physical activity that is so important to their overall health and well being. The solution was to introduce a game in which the players were scored based on their ability to dance according to the directions of the game. If you haven't tried this game, let me be the first to tell you that it requires some fancy footwork and more than some degree of tunnel vision. The really cool thing about this game is that you can adjust the level of difficulty and combine games with friends who have the same game for a competition. Competition with yourself is all well and good but the idea of crushing your friends with your dance talents is even better. This is a game that happens to be crossing generational barriers however and making quite a splash in doing so. Mothers and fathers are competing against sons and daughters and the wagers are quite fantastic. I know I've been known to win a week or two off from washing dishes as the result of a rousing round of friendly competition. The irony is that I'm not really that good at the game. It is a great deal of fun though and I feel less guilty about letting the kids play this game for an hour than I do about allowing them to play some "all your base are belong to us" sort of game for an hour. The wide popularity of the game should be completely obvious in all the 'knock off' versions of this game that have already flooded the market. I do expect to see more games along this line in the near future particularly with the new Nintendo Wii system making waves for the physical nature of many of their games. The hope is definitely that the Playstation Dance Dance Revolution. We have already seen follow up with Dance Dance Revolution 2, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, and Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova. I can only predict that Playstation will attempt to bring this successful line to the ailing Playstation 3 in the near future. As far as the workout reality of this game goes you will find that it offers an excellent aerobic workout and great exercises for your legs. The arms are really up to you to a large degree. If you chose to approach in a river dance sort of method your arms are likely to receive quite the excellent degree of a workout that your legs will receive. However if you put everything into your dance moves then the revolution will be all the calories you burn as well as the strengthening and toning you manage as a side benefit. While very few of us consider video games to be a great source of health or fitness, this game may be the one exception to the rule. Who would have ever thought you could get all of these things and so much more from playing a video game. Next thing you know they'll come out with Mountain Dew that is a health drink. Belly Dance Basics Oriental Dance, also known as belly dancing is one of, if not the most sensual styles of dance. It is also one of the most beneficial forms of dance there is healthwise. In addition to the great calorie burning affect of belly dancing there are other health benefits that this form of dance has become famous for over the centuries. Belly dance has a long and proud history dating back to the dawn of civilization. This style of dance has in its history been used as both an act of worship and an act of seduction. Not always in exclusion of the either as this form of dance is believed by some religions to be a boost for fertility of newly wedded couples. Belly dance is a style of dance that doesn't require participants to be in optimal physical condition in order to begin. In fact, the low impact nature of this form of movement makes it an excellent choice for those who are not in ideal shape to begin with. This form of dance works the muscles gently with the jarring effects of impact aerobics and other exercise methods. It also works the belly, which is often the problem area for many who aren't in the best of shape. You should also find that you will strengthen your back through belly dance as you progress. This will also help with almost every aspect of your physical fitness routine. More importantly for those who are a little (or a lot) out of shape is the belly dance burns an average of 300 calories an hour. This means that if you practice one hour a day you are burning over 2,000 calories per week. For those who celebrate their womanhood, there is no better form of dance to express that joy. Belly dance has a long history as a celebration of being female. From being used in ceremonies in the temple to being used to entice and seduce the unwitting belly dance is a celebration of simply being a girl. If you are afraid to begin your belly dance lessons in a class full of other men and women you can always opt to purchase videos and DVD lessons. There are many of these lessons from which to choose, even lessons that focus on the mental and/or healing aspects of Oriental dance if that is where you feel you need to focus your efforts. Belly dancing is a great deal of fun in addition to being a decent form of getting much needed physical activity. If you plan to belly dance, you should understand that the costume is part of what sets the mood or the tone. While you do not need all the bells and whistles, the general consensus is that baring your midriff puts you in the state of mind that is most suitable for belly dancing. For this reason it is recommended that you wear clothes that bare your belly such as low-rise yoga pants and a sports bra or some other belly-baring shirt for your practice sessions. This also helps your instructor see if you are making the moves correctly. If you decide to partake in belly dancing classes, congratulations! You will be joining an historic group of women that date back to what many believe is the very beginning of time. You should also have a new hobby that is both entertaining and healthy. Ballroom Dancing is Making Waves Until recently, ballroom dancing often brought about mental images of elderly couples dancing two inches from their walkers. However, in recent years, ballroom dancing has developed a new, hipper, sexier image and people of all ages are standing up and paying attention. Movies such as Strictly Ballroom and Shall We Dance have contributed greatly to the newer kinder image that ballroom dancing is developing in the United States. As an art form, ballroom dance is a beautiful sight to behold. Particularly when watching those participate on a competitive level. Because of the rigorous training that is involved in competitive ballroom dancing, many couples that participate often consider this to be a sport more than a style of dance or manner of artistic expression. The term DanceSport is often used in reference to ballroom dancing in the International Style. There are many styles of dance that fall under the banner of ballroom dancing. Some of these dances are often considered to be the most beautiful to watch as well as among the most sensual styles of dance on the planet. Only you can decide for yourself if ballroom dance is something that might interest you. I do, however, encourage you to take stock of the various styles and themes before unilaterally deciding to rule out all ballroom dance as a possible interest. International Style Under the International Style of ballroom dance there are two main categories of dance. They are Standard and Latin. The Standard style is typically hallmarked by Fred and Ginger sort of attire. By this I mean that the style of dress is very formal with men in coats with flowing tails and vests while the women wear very elegant gowns as part of their costumes. Latin dance is far more sensual in music, mood, and attire. Men wear tight fitting garments and women wear very little. Standard Not only is the style of dance between Standard and Latin very different but also the styles of dance. In Standard ballroom dancing you will find the following dances: the Quickstep, the Slow Foxtrot, the Tango, the Viennese Waltz, and the Waltz. The Tango for many is the highlight of the Standard event while others have a deep appreciation for the technical qualities of the many Standard dances of ballroom dancing. Latin For the younger generation, the Latin portion of competitions is the eagerly anticipated event. The style of dance is very exotic and emotional as well as incredibly beautiful to watch. The mood this style of dance brings not only to the dancers but also to the audience is almost palpable. The fan favorites of Latin dance include the Cha Cha, Paso Doble, the Rumba, the Samba, and Jive dance. This form of dance is certainly in keeping with the idea that dance is quickly becoming a sport. The energy required for these dances is phenomenal as is the fitness level required in order to wear the costumes. American Style The American standard when it comes to dance is a little different than the International Style. The two categories for American Style are Smooth and Rhythm. There are other differences as well. In International Style the couples are required to remain in a closed formation. For American Style ballroom dance these requirements are somewhat relaxed in order to allow for creative use of footwork. The step patterns for Latin or Rhythm dance are also slightly different than in the International Style of ballroom dancing though the sensuality of the music, costumes, and movements are very much the same. Smooth The smooth portion of the American Style of ballroom dance includes the Foxtrot, the Tango, the Viennese Waltz, and the Waltz. Rhythm In American Style Ballroom dance the Rhythm portion of the dance includes the following: the Bolero, the Cha Cha, East Coast Swing, the Mambo, and the Rumba. The audience still enjoys the intensity of Latin dance and Latin influence though there are other influences as well. These are still a much anticipated audience favorite in most competitions. As you can see, ballroom dance has taken on a new intensity in recent years. If you have preconceived ideas of what ballroom dance really is, it is time you saw for yourself how sensual this style of dance can really be. Ballet Dance Classes for All Ages For those who are interested in dance classes, ballet lessons in particular, there are many options from which to choose. In most areas you will find ballet lessons that are available to students of all ages as well as a wide range of experience levels. Beginning adults are not uncommon today as more and more people discover the fitness benefits of incorporating dance, such as ballet into their fitness routine. For children, ballet dance lessons often begin quite early sometimes as early as the age of three. There are no upward limits on ballet lessons at this point in time to the best of my knowledge. As long as the students are physically able to do the moves and have a sincere desire to do so, I honestly cannot see them being turned away from a studio that is truly dedicated to sharing the passion of dance. Ballet dance lessons can teach important lessons to people of all ages that go well beyond your typical dance moves. In fact, one of the greatest lessons that ballet dance classes teach students is the lesson of discipline. Discipline is required in order to achieve greatness when it comes to ballet or any other type of dance or sport. The earlier we learn this lesson the better off we will be. I recommend getting your children involved in some sort of creative movement dance or gymnastics course as close to the age of 3 as the dance schools in your area allows in order to instill the principles of practice as early as possible. Ballet dance classes for little ones is also an important tool for helping them learn important socialization skills such as sharing attention, taking turns, and working as part of a group. Your child will look forward to the experience each and every week and it will burn off a little bit of his or her excess energy. As a parent I cannot possibly stress the importance of this on occasion as it might provide the rare evening where there are no arguments when bedtime rolls around. As your child ages and progresses in his or her ballet education you will find that your child is learning more and more about the importance of participation within a group, the value of discipline, and perhaps most importantly good self esteem. These lessons are not to be taken lightly. Another great thing about ballet dance classes for children and teens is that it keeps them up and active every lesson they take and every minute that they spend practicing is a moment that they aren't sitting around mindlessly watching television and playing video games or stuffing junk food into their mouths. For adults, the value of ballet dance lessons or any other form of dance for that matter is much like the value it has for children and teens. Discipline is an important skill to learn and foster at any age. Even those with some degree of discipline already can often use another reinforcement method and dance will definitely reinforce positive discipline in a person. Another huge benefit is to ballet dance lessons for adults is the fact that it is also keeping you active and on your feet. Ballet dance is a form of exercise that happens to work many major muscle groups at once. Ballet is a very inviting form of exercise for many who would otherwise avoid exercise all together. The graceful flow and form of ballet are also moves that force the dancer to bend and stretch while maintaining excellent posture. The workout may be lower in impact than many other workouts however it is still burning calories at a much greater rate than sitting around the house watching television. Ballet dance classes are a great activity to pursue at almost any age provided you are in proper health to handle the rigors of ballet dance. 7 Great Reasons to Dance When it comes to dance there are plenty of wonderful reasons that people elect to dance. The fact remains that far too few of us manage to incorporate dance into our lives nearly as much as we should. There are many wonderful reasons to dance and they do not all require copious amounts of alcohol and someone with a video camera poised for America's Funniest Home Videos greatness. Below I will suggest 7 great reasons to incorporate dance into your life as often as possible. I hope that you will take some of these to heart and find a few reasons of your own to dance more often. Love There are few greater reasons to dance than to show your love for your partner. You do not have to limit your dancing to your wedding night or an evening out with friends. All you need to dance with the one you love is some good music and a little bit of floor space. Dance while you prepare dinner, wash dishes, or just because it's raining outside. But dance with the one you love and do it often to keep those flames burning. Joy We always hear people talking about dancing for joy but how often do we really see that happen? What a shame it is that we actually take so few opportunities to dance in our society. Dancing is an outward expression of joy that is almost always infectious. Share your joy with the world and you just might find they will dance along with you. Even if they do not, you should at least be secure in the fact that at this moment in time you are much happier than they are. Fun When is the last time you've danced? Was it fun? I have found very few people (well other than young boys) who did not have any fun while dancing. The truth of the matter is that dancing is fun. Whether you are line dancing or trying the Tango it is great fun to dance. Flirting What a wonderful way to flirt dancing can be! If you haven't tried it with the one you love, there is no time like the present to do so. Find some great fun and flirty music and dance for the one you love. If you're really lucky, you might even convince them to join in. To Make Your Children Laugh Really, there is no better reason on the earth than this to dance. My kids love to see me dance the moves that were popular back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and share their more modern moves with me. It's a great way to enjoy your children before they decide your evil or during those rare moments when you may be on the verge of neutral in their opinions. Fitness While dancing does a lot to lighten the mood and raise your spirits it can also help your heart in other ways as well. Dancing is a great way to get up and moving that doesn't feel as though it is really exercise. This means that you can help your heart by dancing a little while every day. The longer you dance, the better you will feel and the healthier your heart will become. Meet New People If you decide to take lessons for dancing, you will find that you have the ability to meet a bunch of great new people. Dancing is a great way that many people are discovering to have fun and stay fit. This means that more and more people are joining local dance classes for these very reasons. You might develop some lifelong friendships through your dance lessons that you would have missed out on otherwise. Of course there are many more reasons that different people take up dance. In fact, you may find an all-together different reason to take up dance for yourself. Whatever your reason you decide to dance, do it often and have fun in the process. 4 Great Ways to Learn to Dance Dancing is something that many people enjoy not only as a recreational pursuit but also as an integral part of their fitness routine. Dance is a great way to keep your body in shape without feeling as though you are somehow being punished for enjoying that extra scoop of ice cream on your cone. At the same time, dance is also something that many people simply find enjoyable. As with most things in life though, there are often right and wrong ways in which you can make most dance moves and some of them might not be as good for you as they think. For this reason you really do need to seek qualified instructions. Below you will find four different methods in which you can get the instruction you need to dance your heart out. Private Dance Instruction If you are in a financial situation that allows for this then this is the ideal option. With private lessons you will have one on one instruction and the direct attention of the instructor. Private lessons provide the absolute most bang for your buck and will provide the most immediate pay off for your efforts as you will move at your own pace and will not have to wait on other students to catch up or feel left behind by students who have a higher beginning level of skill. Private lessons also provide the opportunity to address specific needs and problem areas when it comes to your dancing. This means you will learn the right way from the beginning, provided you went with a reputable instructor who is very knowledgeable. The benefits of private instruction are really amazing when compared to some of the other available methods of learning to dance. Formal Group Dance Lessons You can sign up for group dance lessons at almost any age. There are very few requirements and classes are offered for many different experience levels as well. If you are an utter novice there will be classes that will teach you the basics and get you started on your way. There are also classes that are designed to teach advanced students more difficult footwork and techniques. Some people thrive in these sorts of classes because there is some degree of competitiveness involved. Friendly competition is often a great motivator for success. Others however, feel somewhat left behind or unchallenged in these sorts of classes and would do better with a different form of instruction. Informal Group Dance Instruction This is the type of instruction you will often find prior to dances in local dance halls and nightclubs. The atmosphere is very informal and the goal is to give a basic primer. This sort of instruction will prepare to you to execute a few very basic moves and very little else. This is very popular in areas where line dancing is common to teach patrons how the moves involved in specific dances. This type of instruction is not recommended for those who want a serious amount of instruction when it comes to dance but for those who have a fleeting interest and only want to learn a couple of dances for fun on a night out, this is ideal. Video Dance Instruction Believe it or not, many would be dancers are petrified at the very thought of someone watching as they attempt to learn the moves required for the dances they wish to execute. We live in a world of perfectionists however and if you happen to be a perfectionist, then video dance lessons may be the perfect bet for your needs and wishes. You will find a wide selection of these video lessons online if you are willing to look. You will even find many that are designed to teach dance for the sole purpose of fitness while others teach dance for the sole purpose of fun. The direction you take when it comes to learning to dance is entirely up to you. The many different types of classes offer appeal to the many different types of people in the world today. If one type of class worked for everyone wishing to take classes then there would be no need for the different types of dance classes. The truth is that not everyone learns best in the same situation. Select the learning method that you feel will be best for you and start learning to dance today.
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