Dance….For Joy

Everyone knows that I’m crazy about dance. Any kind of dance, regardless of the style you practice or may be interested in is the motherlode for health and fitness. It doesn’t matter if you are a classical dancer or a closet dancer, nothing beats the benefits of dance.

I absolutely love the grueling regimen and relentless discipline of a professional level ballet class. However, it always raises eyebrows when I tell people that I take ballet class at least four or five times a week. I get the slow up and down appraisal and the unspoken question hangs in the air–“Really….at your age??”

Yep, really. At my age. And why not? I started my ballet “career” at the ripe old age of twenty, when most dancers are packing up their pointe shoes and retiring their tutus. I loved the physical aspect of ballet, as well as the artistic expression. Several of my friends and my family laughed at me for taking up ballet so “late in life,” but they stopped laughing when they saw the results.

Of course the health benefits of any type of dance is obvious–improved strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance, just to name a few. But even more compelling is the recent studies which have revealed that dance improves brain function. The combined effort of learning and remembering new dance steps while you challenge your balance and coordination as you listen to music stimulates your brain and awakens your nervous system. Who knew?

Well, I kind of knew, because sometimes I have to concentrate so hard to get complex ballet combinations that I can actually feel new synaptic connections being made in my brain. But it sure is nice to have my suspicions confirmed. The result is an increase in memory and mental function, spatial orientation, and peripheral vision. That certainly be enough to put on your dancing shoes!

Finally, there is nothing that can quite compare to the social aspect of dance and the exhilaration of getting together with a group of people who share a passion with you. One of the many reasons why I still go to ballet class is because it’s fantastic girlfriend time, and a lot of us have supported each other through a variety of life’s traumas and triumphs over the past thirty years. But the number one reason why I dance is simply because it fills my heart with joy. I couldn’t imagine saying that about a trip to the gym. Could you?

Just in case you’re still not convinced, check out the story about the Silver Swans. It’s a fabulous story and video about ladies who are starting their ballet training later in life. And they dance, for joy. See you at the barre!