TV programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and BBC Young Dancer have helped bring dance closer to the public, and one style of dance that has been enjoying a surge in popularity is Ballet.
Forget the traditional image of little girls in pink tutus. These days Ballet classes are just as likely to be for older people as they are for male athletes.
No matter what your intentions are, wanting to become the next Darcey Bussell or Matthew Bourne or simply wanting to keep fit, everyone can benefit from Ballet classes. Dancing impacts pretty much on every aspect of our lives—including our brains. That’s right: Dance makes us smarter. Like, super smart. And here are 13 reasons why being a dancer enhances your brainpower and benefits your body and soul.
1 IMPROVES POSTURE
Many people spend hours sitting in front of screens or in classrooms, which can create bad postural habits with long-term effects.
Well, Ballet can address that by helping achieve postural alignment.
Ballet classes can help to develop correct everyday posture, improving balance and coordination. And increasing awareness of the way you might be standing, sitting or walking in your daily life.
2 BUILDS MUSCLE AND AGILITY
Believe it or not, part of the Pilates and some endurance training took their inspiration from ballet technique!
Pliés, Sautés, Pirouettes* will use your own body weight to strengthen your core and lower body.
Ballet also requires you to breath with coordination throughout your dance sequence increasing your cardiovascular strength, making Ballet the complete perfect training to improve motor skills!
Pliés = squatting
Sautés = jumps
Pirouettes – spins
3 IMPROVES FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility is not a prerequisite for Ballet; you gain it through regular practice. Since Ballet involves static and dynamic stretching, doing both will contribute to your overall flexibility. Great isn’t it?!
4 IMPROVES SENSORY MOTOR PERFORMANCE
The ability to balance yourself and react to external stimuli is indicative of how tuned your sensorimotor skills are. Participating in a Ballet class enhances these skills by engaging both hemispheres of your brain for coordinated learning.
Becoming proficient in Ballet challenges your brain to synchronize your form with the expectations. A meta-analysis found that Ballet was a useful measure to limit age-related mental impairment such as dementia too.
5 IMPROVES LEARNING ABILITIES AND PERSISTENCE
Knowing how to memorise four combinations in a week comes in handy when you need to remember seven math formulas for your next exam.
Ballet dancers are asked to remember intricate routines, patterns and movements on a daily basis, and their training makes them top of the class in memorising anything!
Furthermore, whether trying to conquer a difficult Ballet step or mast a physics formula, dancers understand that giving up isn’t an option.
6 MAKES BRILLIANT PROBLEM SOLVERS
Ballet is always asking dancers to do multiple things at once, making them great at solving tricky problems.
Plus, dancers always think eight Steps (or counts) ahead.
Smart people plan ahead; and that’s a quality every dancer has too. Because your body couldn’t have executed that tricky turn sequence unless your brain knew it was coming three/eight-counts before.
7 MAKES AMAZING LISTENERS,
Helping us better understand and appreciate even the trickiest music, another sign of intelligence!
8 BUILDS CONFIDENCE
In addition to its physical benefits, Ballet can also help to improve mental and emotional health. The training in Classical Ballet instils a sense of pride and accomplishment, which can boost self-esteem. As you improve and master more challenging movement combinations, they feel more self-assured, which can carry over into other areas of your life.
9 RELEASES HAPPY HORMONES
In a Ballet class when you are focused on the placement of your body and co-ordination with the music in the moment, you are able to escape from the stresses of everyday life. The physical workout of Ballet releases endorphins giving you a real feel good factor, during and after class. Additionally, classical music has been shown to have positive, calming influences on the brain and aids focus and concentration, all helping to create happy Ballet dancers!
10 PRESENTS SOCIAL BENEFITS
Ballet classes help foster teamwork, communication, trust and cooperation. Ballet can also help to forge new friendships, overcome shyness or awkwardness in social situations and reduce the fears associated with being in a group and performing in front of an audience.
11 STIMULATES CREATIVITY
The smartest people are incredibly creative—and dancers, who can whip out brilliant improvisations at the drop of a hat, are pushed to explore their creativity from day one.
Furthermore, Ballet is a fascinating art form with centuries of amazing tales. Once you’ve sparked an interest, there are basically no limits on what you can learn. You will even find yourself learning some of the French ballet terms… charmant!
12 DEVELOPS COMMUNICATION SKILLS
One of the great things about seeing Ballet performed is how effective it is at telling a story without words. This sensation of communication through movement doesn’t just work one-way: it is just as exciting learning to use your body to communicate as it is for an audience on opening night. Learning Ballet in your spare time is a fantastic creative way to help you develop self-expression in new and exciting ways!
13 IMPACTS ON OTHER SPORTS
Rio Ferdinand has claimed his footballing career was helped by Ballet training which improved his balance, strength and flexibility.
Classes are still predominantly attended by women and girls, but as the physical benefits of Ballet become more widely known more men, boys and sport athletes are incorporating dance into their fitness routine.
Many professional sportsmen have already discovered how Ballet can help them. Footballer Rio Ferdinand trained as a Ballet dancer; and in the US it is also common for American footballers to take classes.
While these sportsmen may have no intention of becoming the next Billy Elliot, they understand that Ballet will strengthen their muscles while improving their balance and poise.
The physical benefits of taking up Ballet is noticeable within a few weeks of regular attendance to classes. However, the feel-good effects of a lesson are apparent almost immediately. And investing yourself in Ballet is a valuable use of your time!
ConsultantKate Menzies – Scottish Ballet
Débora B. Rabinovich
Joseph F. X. De Souza