“Dancing encompasses so much of the brain. Dance stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, the left hemisphere being language, logical and sequential, where as the right side is of visual, processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly.” –The Physiological Effects of Dance on the Brain Journal by Andy Chumbley, NTA State Director of Washington State.
One of my favorite parts of my “job” is discovering why people come to the studio to learn how to dance. For the kids/teens, it is more obvious why they do it- it’s a fun, social activity. Of course, they all want to be really great dancers, but even more importantly, they want all their friends in class to think they are really great dancers. They love feeling a part of a team, and the studio is a safe space for them to learn and grow as a group. I’m sure many of the adults at the ballroom dance studio come for similar reasons, too; most people like to feel a part of a community. From my experience, however, adults usually have more specific reasons for wanting to learn.
In my previous post, I shared 10 reasons why everyone should dance. Today, I had a conversation with one of my adult students; I asked him why he chose dance as his hobby, as opposed to something like chess or tennis. His response was, “Dance is the only activity I’ve found so far in my life where I can shut my brain off and focus 100% on what I’m doing. You have no idea how relieving this is for me. My job is so stressful, life is so stressful, but when I come here, I know I can let all that go for an hour and just get lost in the dance.” It was at this point that I realized it wasn’t about perfecting his foxtrot step, though that was what my mind was focused on; the bigger picture was that this activity was helping him escape from his every day normalities. How cool is that? 🙂
So my conclusion is this: dance professionals are obsessed with dance and becoming the best. We want to perfect our technique and hold a very high standard for our dancing. However, dance teachers need to have a wider perspective and really take note of who they are teaching and why. Not all students are learning for the sole purpose of becoming the most perfect, professional dancers. Some people just need a mental distraction, a human connection, or relaxation. I plan to continue learning to be the kind of teacher who inspires others to dance for their reasons… and at the same time, still make sure they keep on beat 😉
Dance teachers- what’s been your favorite dance-story from a student? Or students, why are you learning? I’d love to hear from you!