Welcome back to my 3 part series of the benefits dance has on the mind, soul and overall well being. In my last 2 posts we talked about the impact dance has on the mind and how it can improve social interactions. If you missed either one of those two, just click HERE to access the entire series.
In my last post about the social benefits of dance, I hinted several times about today’s topic; Self Confidence. It is so hard to be a kid today! There are high expectations hitting our kids from every angle: at home, school, activities and now we can add social media to the mix. The pressure to be perfect, to have the perfect day, to be happy, or if your child is like my son, to have the most updated skins on Fortnite – it can all be overwhelming for some kids. There are times when kids come in the door to the studio and look completely stressed out, tired or zoned out. While waiting for class, they are off to themselves in the far corner of the lobby, earbuds in, not engaging with anyone or anything that happens to pass by them. Then I see them when they leave…and it is a completely different kid! They are smiling, laughing and chatting with their dance mates. They look energized and most of them look like they are “glowing.” In fairness, it’s probably the sweat glistening in the fluorescent lights that makes them “glow,” but for sure this was not the same kid that walked in the door an hour earlier. It got me thinking…what is it about dance that helps to turn this around? What happens in class to bring out this confident and outgoing personality? It really boils down to three things…
- Accomplishment: Dance class is structured in a way that all throughout the class there are opportunities to achieve milestones. There are constantly new steps, combinations, or concepts that are given each and every class that give the opportunity students the opportunity to achieve something new. The teachers are guiding, directing and giving tools for students to have success within the classroom. Each dance class is segmented into warm up, center floor, across the floor, and combination or choreography and each segment has the opportunity for accomplishment. In one class a student can hit multiple mini-milestones that can be celebrated with their peers. Dance mates are encouraging and helping others to have success, which builds the entire class morale. Celebrations are constantly happening within dance class as students are building upon one success after another in the progression of learning dance techniques. Each celebration is boosting confidence and self esteem and this happens each and every class…all year long!
- Pushing the Limits: Just stepping into a dance class for the first time is taking a huge risk. Remember the “firsts” in your life… first kiss, first school dance, first job interview. Now when you think about these things, at least for me, it brings up mixed feelings of joy and anxiety. We took the risk and jumped in hoping and praying that it would work out as well as it did in our head the night before. Teachers within a dance class are pushing their students to work through and past their fears, pushing them to take the risk and do three pirouettes (fancy dance word for turn) instead of just the comfortable two the student has been doing for the past 3 months. Pushing these limits and breaking down barriers not only brings tremendous growth within the student, it makes them realize what they are capable of accomplishing. Yes, they can do 3 pirouettes, yes they are amazing, and yes they CAN do amazing things. This realization brings the self confidence, self esteem and self worth to an all-time high.
- No Judgement Zone: Just last week I had a colleague of mine use this phrase to describe her dance class and it resonated loudly within my heart. It brought me back to how I felt in my own dance classes growing up. Dance was my “safe” space – the one place that I could be my true self. I didn’t have to pretend, I could just be me. It was the place that I could take my emotions and express them in ways that I could never do verbally. Life, no matter your age, is difficult and sometimes just moving your body and freeing the spirit is just what the soul needs to be able to dust off the dirt and start again. One of the most important skills dance teachers teach students is to know and understand that it is ok to fall and get dirty. You just need to dust off and start again. There is no judgement! We are all pushing and working hard, we are all taking risks to achieve success and to reach our goals. Sometimes I ask students “why do you dance?” The answer I always get is because it is a place that lets them express themselves with no judgement. Going into dance class knowing that you can push yourself, take the risks needed to grow and that you are not judged for taking those risks (even if it goes badly), WOW….what a confidence boost!
I knew dance was fun, exciting and taught students really amazing skills they can translate into other aspects of their life; but at the end of this series it is more apparent now than ever the benefits of dance. Dance can expand the mind by increasing memory, improve problem solving, and overall mood. Dance can improve social interactions. Most of all, it can increase self confidence, self esteem and self worth. Dance class does not just produce great dancers, it produces great human beings.
So…to all those involved in dance and to all those with little ones beginning their journey…congratulations and keep up the great work!!