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Food For Your Mind, Body and Soul —DANCE

Submitted by John Carricato

Feb 11, 2023

...I took a few group classes at a local dance studio. It was so much fun! I was hooked and never looked back.

After the first few group classes, private one-on-one lesson were next. I was determined to become someone who could actually dance! Going out to the clubs and attending events with a few moves under my belt was the goal. I was soon meeting new people, developing friendships and feeling good about myself. I lost weight. I developed confidence not only on the dance floor but at my job and other areas of my life. Best of all, I was having fun! Dance will mean different things to different people. Not everyone will take private lessons or participate in showcases and competition. However, below are good reasons to make dance part of your life. Some of the most popular styles are explained.  Pick one or two and find a studio or venue that offers group classes. Give it a try! 

  • Physical fitness: Dancing is  a way to exercise and keep fit. Dancing helps maintain muscle tone, improve flexibility and balance. Dancing requires intense core strength. It becomes a great way to burn calories. An hour or two on the dance floor can easily burn a few hundred calories. 

  • Body Awareness and Coordination: Dancing can help a person become more aware of their body by requiring them to use and control various muscle groups. Additionally, dance can increase body coordination by requiring the dancer to coordinate multiple muscle groups and movements simultaneously. For example, a dancer may need to coordinate the movement of their arms, legs and core while also maintaining proper posture and balance. Dancing often involves moving in time with music, which can help improve a person's sense of timing and rhythm. As a person becomes more familiar with the movement patterns and choreography, their body coordination improves. Practicing dance techniques, such as footwork, turns and leaps, can also help improve coordination.​

  • Social interaction: Ballroom dancing is a great way to meet new people and make friends. My dance peeps have become some of my closest friends.  Dancing takes a lot of teamwork between you and your partner. Dancing with my partners has helped me improve communication and teamwork skills. 

  • Stress relief: Dancing is a great way to relieve stress and tension that accumulates at work and in your personal life.  Dancing gives you a sense of well-being. 

  • Cultural appreciation: Ballroom dancing exposes you to different cultures and music. Music you likely would have never been exposed to will become part of your playlist: especially salsa, mambo, cha cha cha, waltz, foxtrot, and tango!

  • Confidence builder: Learning to dance is a great confidence builder. Dancing can help you build self-esteem not only on the dance floor, but will also translate into your confidence at work and in social situations.Great for events: Ballroom dance is a great skill for social events and is a great way to impress your friends and family. Going out to clubs, attending weddings and the like are so much more fun, especially when people say, “You can dance!”

  • Enhancing memory: Learning dance steps and patterns can help to  improve your memory and cognitive functions. 

  • Fun: Finally. Ballroom dancing is fun. I expect to be dancing well into my later years! 

So, what exactly are the different styles of dancing? Dance has many different styles and origins. There are two basic styles: smooth and rhythm. Below are some of the most popular styles of dance. There are many studios and events on Long Island where you can find group classes and instructors to learn these styles 

Waltz: A classic ballroom dance that originated in the 19th century in Vienna, Austria. It is characterized by its smooth gliding steps and elegant, flowing movements.Tango: A dramatic and passionate dance that originated in Argentina. It is known for its sharp and precise movements and strong, staccato rhythms.

Tango: A dramatic and passionate dance that originated in Argentina. It is known for its sharp and precise movements and strong, staccato rhythms.​Foxtrot: A smooth and sophisticated dance that originated in the early 20th century. It is characterized by its long, flowing strides and elegant turns.​

Viennese Waltz: A faster version of the traditional waltz, with a tempo of about 180 beats per minute.​

Quickstep: A fast-paced dance that combines elements of the foxtrot and the Charleston. It is characterized by its quick and lively footwork.​

Rumba: Known as the "dance of love", Rumba is a slow, sensual Latin dance that originated in Cuba.​

Cha-cha: A Latin dance that has its roots in Cuba, characterized by its energetic and lively footwork.​

Salsa: A fun, upbeat Latin dance that originated in Cuba and Puerto Rico. It is characterized by its syncopated rhythms and expressive body movements.​

Samba: A Brazilian dance that is known for its lively and rhythmical footwork. It's a very popular dance style in Ballroom competitions.​

Hustle: A disco dance that became popular in the 1970’s. It is a partner dance that is typically done to disco music, although it can also be done to other types of music as well.​

East Coast Swing: is a swing dance style that is characterized by its six-count basic step and its syncopated rhythm. It is a smooth, progressive dance that is done to a wide variety of music, including rock and roll, blues and contemporary pop.​

West Coast Swing: a modern swing dance that evolved from the Lindy Hop and the East Coast Swing. It is a smooth, slotted dance. It is typically danced to a wide range of music, including contemporary pop, blues and R&B.

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