Sunday, December 25, 2011

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.


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.


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.


The smooth portion of the American Style of ballroom dance includes the Foxtrot, the Tango, the Viennese Waltz, and the Waltz.


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.

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 health wise. 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.

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 Play station 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 Play station Dance Dance Revolution. We have already seen follow up with Dance Dance Revolution 2, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, and Dance Dance Revolution Super Nova. I can only predict that Play station will attempt to bring this successful line to the ailing Play station 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.

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.