Why Dance? The Importance of Dance in Your Child’s Life.

By Carolyn Culea of Kennedy Dance Company, Milwaukee

People sometimes ask me why I dance. My answer is simply, ”Why not?” My main motive is joy. The happiness that dance has provided me is not really something I can explain – it has to be felt. The benefits and opportunities dance has afforded me and many others, can do the same for you and your child. Even if your child does not end up being a professional dancer, there are several benefits to beginning dance instruction at a young age:

1. Dance classes promote fitness for a lifetime! I cannot tell you how easy it is for dancers to transition their skills from dance class to so many other fitness arenas. Dance also provides the necessary daily physical fitness recommendations of most health care professionals. Promoting physical fitness as being fun and easy from a young age, creates an excellent foundation for future life long health and fitness.

2. Confidence, high self-esteem and personal expression. Dance is a great way to connect emotionally with an audience and other people. Throughout the KDC classes, expression, smiling and reflection will be promoted. This creates a health environment in which students can express their feelings in a productive manner, while learning to control their emotions.

3. Lifelong friendships and bonding. Most of the friends I’ve made in my life have come through my dance and yoga training. Each started with a bond formed in the studio and continued growing. As a result of working on team, partner and solo performances, we develop comfort in working independently, a taste of healthy competition and inspiration from our peers.

4. Discipline and Focus. Students will experiences challenges in their dance classes, just as people experience challenges in their life. From retaining choreography to setting and achieving goals, dancers will feel success at such a young age. They will also learn that it takes hard work and sweat to achieve their goals and dreams. Their work ethic in the dance studio spills over to their schooling and other activities.

5. Flexibility of the body and mind. By the age of 11, most people are the most flexible they will ever be, so it is important to starting stretching at a young age. Students will not only gain and expand their physical flexibility, but also mentally as they learn to control their energy and bodies in their full range of motion.

6. Creativity and imagination. Dancers will work on creating shapes and movements through imagination and exploration. This is beneficial to all aspects of life, creating endless opportunities for future development.

7. Posture and poise: You can always tell who the dancer is in the room by their posture and ability to move with grace. Technique taught in class focuses on maintaining a straight back , lift from the core , a lengthening of the shoulders down the back, and both slouching and hyperextending.

8. JOY! The number one rule in dance class is to have fun. As in life, if you can t find happiness in what you do it’s hard to build compassion and persistence. Dancers will feel the freedom of expression, meet new friends and reap the rewards of dance training!

The Benefits of Dance for Kids

By Rebecca Lake

If you have kids, you may be wondering what is the best way to channel their seemingly boundless energy. While traditional team sports are a good way to get your kids physically active, they may not be right for younger children. Dance classes are a great alternative to team sports, and most studios offer lessons for children as young as two or three. Participating in dance classes can be beneficial for kids of all ages.

Improved Physical Health

Dancing is a highly physical activity, and kids who take dance lessons regularly should expect to see a significant improvement in their overall physical health. According to Pro Dance Center, regular dance practice can increase your child's flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina. The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, correct poor posture, increase balance and coordination and improve overall cardiovascular health. Dancing is an aerobic form of exercise. For children who are overweight, it can potentially help them to lose weight and improve their eating habits.

Socialization Benefits

In addition to being a physical activity, dancing is also a highly social activity. According to "FamilyTalk Magazine," dance lessons can help children improve their social and communication skills, learn how to work as part of a team, develop a greater sense of trust and cooperation and make new friends. If your child is shy, enrolling her in dance can encourage her to reach out to other children her age and help to reduce her anxiety about new people or places. Dance can also help to alleviate fears related to performing in front of an audience.

Educational Benefits

Becoming a skilled dancer requires practice, discipline and focus, skills that can be useful in other areas of your child's life. According to "FamilyTalk Magazine," dance lessons can help to spark creativity in young children and help them to develop an appreciation for the arts. Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers. "FamilyTalk Magazine" estimates that students who have a background in dance tend to achieve significantly higher SAT scores and do better in math and science competitions.

Improved Self-Esteem

As children adjust to the movements and postures required in dance, they begin to get a better sense of their bodies. As they become more comfortable in their own skin, their confidence and self-esteem also improve. According to EduDance, dance lessons can encourage children to foster a more positive attitude and explore their own self-expression. This can be particularly beneficial for children who are physically or mentally impaired or those who are attempting to deal with significant emotional problems.