Dance is an art that consists of fluid, rhythmic and aesthetic movements, usually performed with grace and vigor. Dance can be categorized as a sequence of choreographed movements of the body, legs, hands and expressions.
"Forget your troubles and dance." - Bob Marley
Dancing can be done at any age. In fact, young girls and boys are taught to dance even before they can read and write. It is known to have many benefits ranging from weight management to improved sex life.
The best thing about dancing is that while you are having fun swaying to the music, you will also meet new people, feel more relaxed and also improve your socializing skills and health.
Western Classical Dance
There are various types of dances from around the world and each type of dance has it's own health benefits.
Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century. To become a ballet dancer, one requires years of disciplined training. The dance form focuses on female dancers called ballerinas and involves flowing and precise movements that require strength, flexibility and balance.
Ballroom Dancing - The term originated from the word 'ballare' which in Latin means 'to dance'. Ballroom dancing began as a social dance for the privileged. However, many ballroom dances were actually elevated folk dances. Ballroom dancing is a partner dance, which involves techniques, rhythms and costumes that personify control and cohesiveness. Tango and Waltz are popular forms of ballroom dances that improve coordination and quickness of movements.
Western Folk & Fusion Dance
Belly Dancing- Belly dance, originally a Middle Eastern folk dance, is an expressive dance that focuses on complex movements of the torso. The dance revolves around the isolations of the torso muscles. Belly dance lays emphasis on precise coordination of movements between the hip and abdomen muscles.
Tap Dancing - Tap dance is a rhythmically infused dance of the jazz tradition, where the dancer strikes the floor with the tap shoes as a form of percussion. Tap shoes have a metal "tap" on the heel and toe. The soul of tap dancing goes way back with roots in African tribal and also Irish folk dances. Tap dancing improves muscle memory, fine coordination of muscles and concentration.
Western Contemporary and Freestyle Dance
Hip Hop and Jazz - Hip hop dance was first created among the African-American and Latino communities of The Bronx, in New York. This kind of dance evolved as a part of the hip hop culture by dance crews. Hip hop dance styles include breaking, locking, and popping. The movements in hip hop and jazz dances provide an excellent cardio workout, improve muscle memory and co-ordination.
Salsa - Salsa essentially means a mixture. Salsa is a popular form of social dance between partners usually performed at parties and night clubs. It evolved from different genres like Son, Cha Cha and Mambo that represent elements of cultures such as the Caribbean, Cuban, Cali Colombia, Puerto Rican, and New York. Salsa improves rhythmic movements of muscles and enhances sensuality.
Zumba is a fitness-focused high-intensity dance program that combines dance and aerobics, usually done too fast paced Latino music. The dance forms incorporated in the choreography include hip hop, Soca, Samba, Salsa, Merengue and Mambo with exercises like squats and lunges. It is known to burn about 400 calories per hour. With Zumba gaining popularity across the world, the music is choreographed to accommodate dance music of various cultures.
Piloxing, the new way of getting fit is punching a pack among the young fitness enthusiasts. The workout involves a combination of Pilates and boxing moves performed to dance music that enhances fat burning and body sculpting.
Body Jam is another dance fitness program gaining momentum, which involves dancing to a choreographed session of 30-50 minutes. The workout is tuned to the latest hip hop, funk, drum and bass music. Dance your way to getting fit.
Indian Classical Dance
Bharatanatyam,is an Indian classical dance form, which is regarded as the mother of Indian classical dance forms. Traditionally, this dance is performed by women and began in the corridors of Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu. The dance depicts anecdotes from Hindu scriptures, emoted by the dancer with excellent footwork and impressive gestures.
Kuchipudi originated at a village in Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. It is a dance-drama performance art linked to the traveling artists and spiritual beliefs.
Kathak originated in ancient North India and derived from the word Katha meaning "story". Kathak traditionally evolved in Jaipur, Banaras and Lucknow and involve rhythmic foot movements harmonized to the music.
These classical dances involve a variety of fine coordinated movements of hands and legs, at times done very fast. Improves memory, muscle coordination and concentration.
Indian Classical Dance (Cont..)
Mohiniattam evolved in Kerala and it is derived from the word 'Mohini', which is the female avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is a more graceful, gentle and feminine form of dancing.
Odisha, the home of Odissi, is more sensuous and lyrical. Odissi is a dance of love and passion touching on the divine and the human, the sublime and the mundane.
Both Mohiniattam and Odissi involve immense coordination and curvaceous movements of various muscles of the face, neck, hands, torso and legs.
The frescoes of the Mattancheri temple in Kerala, are adorned with dance scenes depicting the square and rectangular positions typical to Kathakali. This dance involves fine movements of the face, hands and wrist muscles.
Indian Folk Dance
Bhangra celebrates the harvest and is associated with the festival of Baisakhi. It is a high-energy and upbeat folk dance from the state of Punjab. Bhangra has grown in style and popularity with routines that include props and acrobatics. The Bhangra dance is performed to Bhangra music, which is based around the catchy sound of large drums called dhols.
Lavani is a popular folk dance from Maharashtra and combines traditional song and dance, which is performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument. Lavani, is particularly known for its powerful rhythm and performed by the female performers wearing nine-yard long saris.
These high-energy folk styles with a wide range of movements and improve cardiac health and muscle activity.
Popular Indian Dance
Bollywood Dance is the dance sequence from Bollywood films that comprises of formal and folk Indian traditional music and dance traditions with Middle Eastern movements. Bollywood dancing has evolved into an energetic style, involving a group of dancers. Today's Bollywood dances are hugely influenced by international artists and are a fun way to exercise.
Physical Benefits of Dance
Dancing is a great way to be more physically active and stay fit. Some of the physical benefits are as follows:
►Burns approximately 3-10 calories per minute
►Excellent workout that tones muscles, increases stamina and energy levels
►Improves agility and flexibility of the body
►Lubricates joints and prevents arthritis
►Improves posture and balance
►Reduces postural strain and pain
►Improves muscle coordination
Physiological Benefits of Dance
Given our very busy work schedules, we tend to spend more time sitting in front of our desks than anywhere else. Dancing, is not only a fun way to unwind after a stressful work day, but you also learn a new skill that provides you with a host of health benefits which include:
►Aerobic activity increases oxygen supply
►Improves blood flow due to efficient working of heart and lungs
►Improves lung capacity due to increase in deep breathing
►Prevents osteoporosis by increased absorption of calcium into bones
►Maintains lipid levels and increases good cholesterol (HDL) in blood
Mental and Emotional Benefits of Dance
Dancing comes naturally to all people. Those who think they've got two left feet only need to get up and move. Since ancient times, dancing has been used as a form of expression during celebrations or rituals. Dancing releases endorphins - the "happy hormone" in the brain that reduces stress. The mental and emotional benefits of dancing are:
►Raises levels of endorphin - the feel-good hormone
►Improves mind-body connection, and is used as a therapy for depression and other disorders
►Concentrating and coordinating dance moves with the music can help you to relax
►Studies have shown to slow down Alzheimer's and dementia
Social Life Changes Associated with Dancing
Dance has no cultural barriers. It broadens our outlook towards the people around the world.
It is a wonderful recreational and sporting choice, once you get off your couch and decide to dance, you automatically tune yourself to better grooming, posture and hygiene.
You can dance in a group, with a partner or all by yourself. Also there are many clubs, schools and social events that encourage dancing. Not only will you enjoy dancing, but you will also become physically fit and get a chance to make more friends.
Tips to Avoid Injury During Dancing
►Before joining a dance class, consider seeing a doctor if you have a medical condition or overweight
►Warm up and cool down with stretches before and after a dance session
►Drink plenty of water, half an hour before dance and half an hour after a dance session
►Take a break after every 10 minutes of dancing
►Wear comfortable clothing and shoes for the dance
►Check if you are holding the correct posture and the position for the dance moves
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