By Lauren Kirchmyer
My parents signed me up for my first dance class when I was 3 years old. I still dance to this day and now teach and choreograph for dancers at various ages and levels throughout the Western New York community.
What I’ve learned in my 20-plus years in this field is that dance is so much more than learning steps in class. If you’re looking to enroll your child in an extra curricular activity to compliment their schooling, I highly suggest enrolling them in dance and here are five reasons why:
Dance is physical. Dance is a very active activity, and most dance classes are an hour in length. Not only will your son or daughter be burning calories, they will be working on their strength, flexibility and stamina. Students will also have a better understanding of their body. They will learn the difference between good pain (the burn you feel while stretching and lengthening your muscles) verses bad pain (an injury). They will learn about injury prevention and how to take care of their bodies. They will learn balance, how to fall without getting hurt, how to pick themselves up when they’re down … the list goes on and on!
Dance is creative. There are always outlets for dancers – young and old – to be creative in dance class. Yes, they’ll have to follow choreography and demonstrate the correct technique while performing various movements, but they’ll also have the opportunity to challenge themselves. For example, one thing I have found myself enjoying lately while teaching tap this summer is creating a rhythm pattern and having the students create their own steps to match the given rhythm. This allows them to use their mind, and the material they have been given, to create their own unique choreography. It’s interesting and inspiring to see what the kids create. Students also have the opportunity to act out characters, learn how to portray emotion, create movement on the spot through improvisation and more.
Dance is a stress reliever. It’s common for dance teachers to say “leave it at the door,” meaning whatever is going on in your life, leave it at the door and come into class ready and focused. We all have bad days, but going to class on one of those days can allow you to dance out your emotions, relax, and leave feeling re-energized and ready to take on the world.
Dance creates friendships that last a lifetime. When you’re spending a large amount of time with people each week for multiple years, you’re bound to become close. I danced with just about the same group of girls from my first day of class to my last day on “company” at my dance studio. We went through everything together, and we were always there for one another (and still are). Though it’s hard to get together – especially because many of the girls have moved out of town – we still find joy catching up on each other’s lives, attending each other’s weddings and occasionally taking a dance class together (which usually ends with a conversation on how our bodies don’t move the way they used to and that we’ll be in pain the next morning).
Dance is educational. What do most companies look for in an employee? Time management skills. Organizational skills. Must work well with others. These are all sought-out skills taught in dance class. I found throughout the years many dancers are also bright/successful students who continue to find success in their career field, even outside of the dance world. Many of us growing up received high honor roll grades, took AP courses, received multiple scholarships to great colleges, won academic awards … and we all credit dance to our success. It made us the people we are today and we are grateful for the wonderful lessons we learned in the dance studio.