The Dance in Transit concept and title belongs to Sam’s Dance. It was conceived out of a desire to build community, expand social networks, and add some face-to-face contact into our daily lives. It is a way to “bring it to the streets.”
Traditionally, dance schools experience a slower period during the warmer months when people want to be outdoors. We thought, why not combine the beautiful outdoors with some exhilarating dance experiences?
Dance in Transit provides a continuous supply of dancing during the warm months to the existing dance community—at no cost—and offers people who are not already dancers to watch it, try it, and see if they love it, too.
Many people have asked me why I started my own dance school. Good question! (I ask myself that on the discouraging days.)
Although I’ve taken various styles of dance classes for decades, they were all community centre classes in basic styles: Ballroom, East Coast Swing, Tap, Belly Dancing, Jazz, Hawaiian, Line Dancing. Whatever was available at the right time and place. I did it for fun and exercise and to spend time with my Mom.
It wasn’t until I went to Cuba for the first time three years ago that I really got excited about learning salsa. When I got home, I started taking classes.
I loved the teachers and the classes, but some things bothered me right from the start and continued to bother me. First, I noticed that the students who were already known to the teachers were treated differently. Second, I noticed that the new dancers who needed a bit more time and attention didn’t receive it. Most of the attention was awarded to the better dancers. Third, I noticed that students arrived, changed shoes, took a lesson, changed shoes, and left. There didn’t seem to be any socializing outside of the actual class. I thought of dancing, particularly partner dancing, as a social activity.
Once I tried going to social dance events, I noticed that the people there tended to dance exclusively with people they already knew. That shuts out new dancers. I noticed that the only time dancers spent more than one song together was when one good dancer was with another good dancer. New dancers, if they were lucky enough to be asked to dance, experienced the unspoken one-song rule. Leaders rarely asked new dancers to dance. The whole experience felt like a high-school sock hop where only the popular kids danced and the rest stood and watched. The dance community felt stagnant.
I decided I wanted to create something different. Sam’s Dance is inclusive, welcoming, friendly. We make everyone feel like they belong there, whether they’re good dancers wanting to learn more movements, practiced dancers wanting to learn a new style, or dancers that are just starting from scratch. We spend time with all the students before and after classes and encourage them to spend time with each other. We invite them to bring their friends and family to experience the joy of dance. When we hold events, we make sure everyone who wants to dance gets the chance to dance, even if it means we have to introduce them to each other.
All this takes time and energy, but this is what makes us different. We’re interested in our dancers—who they are, what they do, how they found us, what they want to learn. We think this is the way to build a community of diverse people, initially brought together by a common interest or curiosity, but on a journey of discovering other commonalities. A community.
The Social Contract on the Dance Floor
Yes, women want equality. Nobody said that meant killing chivalry. Good old-fashioned manners go a long way in social situations, no matter what your age or philosophy.
There are a few unspoken rules that make social contact with strangers at dance events more comfortable. Nobody likes feeling rejected or judged.
On the dance floor, this is what that means.
Men: Assume that everyone is there to dance. Ask them!
Women: That means if you’re not there to dance, don’t sit on the edges of the dance floor looking like you want to dance!
Men: Don’t assume by glancing that you know which women are going to be fun dance partners. A good dance partner is not only about skill. It’s also about being relaxed and enjoying the experience. It’s about dancing with a partner who can laugh at her mistakes and make you feel good.
Women: Don’t assume the men who ask you to dance are bad dancers or creepy. The old “don’t judge a book by its cover” rule applies here.
Men: Don’t let fear of rejection stop you from asking for dances from people you think might say no. Who cares? Believe in you! If someone says no, it’s probably more about them than it is about you. Their loss. Head up, move on.
Women: Unless you have a damn good reason, don’t say no when someone asks you to dance. Good reasons are: you have an injury; you have danced with that man before and he hurt you; or your feet hurt too much to dance. If reason #1 or #3 apply, get away from the dance floor!
Both parties: Dance with people you don’t know. Dance with people at all levels. Be kind. Smile! This is supposed to be fun.
Allow yourself to fail faster.
This is a concept introduced to me by my friend Miyuki. It’s advice she received from her father and it makes so much sense.
If you don’t take chances because you’re afraid to fail, you don’t avoid failure, you only delay it. Unless you never take any risks at all–and who wants that life? Entirely safe, but dull and unrewarding.
If you trust yourself, if you take chances, if you go places you have not gone before, if you’re brave, you might fail. BUT, you will fail faster so you can get that out of the way and clear the path for success sooner.
Life is short. Don’t waste time fearing failure. Embrace it as a means to bringing you success faster.
THIS is what “dance like nobody is watching” means. If you look silly, who cares? Move, smile, laugh, have fun, & you win every time.
We can show you how.
Here’s the thing about dance classes.
If you think you dance too well to need them, you’re probably wrong.
Dance classes smooth out your basics, improve your transitions, point out your problem areas so you can improve them, keep you humble, & give you the opportunity to bring new people into your dance world.
Yes, you take dance classes to improve your dance ability. That’s the means to an end.
You also take them to spend time with friends, meet new people, & have fun doing something you love with other people who love it, too. That’s an end in itself.
You take dance classes for social reasons as well as for the activity. You take them to support dance schools and dance teachers and other lovers of dance. You take them to become a part of the dance community.
Join us. We guarantee you’ll have fun!
There are no special requirements for dancing Forro, but relaxed Brazilian style is a good guideline. You should wear cool, comfortable clothing that you can easily move in. Breathable materials are best. Flowing skirts will show off hip movements for women.
The only tricky part is shoes for the forrozeiras (girls who dance forró). Since the followers mostly dance on tiptoes, it is really important to have comfortable shoes that will support the sole of the foot and not slip off the heel. Shoes with heels common in other latin dances are not used, mostly due to the style of dancing but also because it can get dangerous on crowded dance floors. Any flat shoes that will not slip off your feet and allow you to turn easily are good. You can also dance barefoot or in socks.
Forro is a fun party dance so being relaxed and happy are the most important thing!
According to The Dance Training Project, dancers don’t listen to their bodies.
“Call it suffering for your art, or whatever you want, but if you don’t listen to the messages your body is sending you, there will come a time, when you won’t have a functional body to create your art with. These messages are actually really easy to interpret: Pain means stop, no pain means go (or rather, proceed with caution). Pain is generally your body telling you to slow down, and stop, because what you’re doing to it feels really bad. If you do not stop, your body will stop you, eventually, and it won’t be pleasant. You will be out of commission for longer than if you had initially listened to your body, and be stuck on the sidelines, watching your peers (which can actually be an excellent learning experience if you let it). Being stuck on the sidelines is damaging for the ego.”
As Stephanie Hanrahan points out,
“When injured, dancers are expected to watch classes. Although a few found they could learn something while in the role of spectator, no one enjoys the role. Many would rather dance on an injury instead of observe. Additionally there is the underlying stress of others improving and looking good when the individual cannot participate because of illness or injury.”
“It is clearly more intelligent to avoid injury in the first place, by not doing stupid things, but many of us must learn the hard way. There is obviously a difference between good pain, and bad pain. If you have to stop and consider whether it is a good pain or not, it probably isn’t.” [Good, she means.]
-The Dance Training Project
Dancing NO-NOs • A Fresh Look & Straight Talk: Bright Ideas, Gentle Reminders, & Good Suggestions for Building a Community
Dancing is great for your brain, great for your body, a fun, safe social activity, and an energizing pastime. With a few simple tips, you can make it the best it can be—for you, for your dance partners, and for the Vancouver dance scene.
Your mouth is close to your partner’s mouth when you’re dancing. Use mints! If you’re chewing gum that you started chewing hours before, thinking it’s got you covered, NO-NO, think again. Pockets, tiny mints, easy peasy!
When dancing with a new partner, just take a second to say, “Hi, my name is Joe.” (Only say the Joe part if your name is Joe.) It lets your partner know you’re engaged in the partnership, no matter how brief it might be. Just grabbing a partner and dragging them onto the floor is a NO-NO.
If your shirt is drenched with sweat, change it before asking your next partner to dance. Close holds are intimate, but getting your sweat on your partner is a NO-NO.
Women have come a long way in our world. They can and they do everything. Men, how about bringing back a little old-fashioned courtesy by asking them to dance? Don’t make them come to you. Right off the bat, they will think you’re awesome! (Tip: asking someone to dance goes like this: “Would you like to dance?” with a smile and an outstretched hand. It does not consist of an elbow nudge, a head flick towards the dance floor, and a grunt. Just saying. That would be a NO-NO.)
If you’re an advanced dancer and you ask a beginner to dance, should you:
- Dance at your level and show off your amazing skills?
- Dance at your partner’s level so the dance is fun and comfortable for them, and thereby enjoyable for both of you?
- Not ask them to dance?
Now, here are the answers:
- NO-NO. You’ll look selfish, inconsiderate, and like a show-off, which is not flattering to you at all! By making your partner look incompetent, you’ll look like a clown.
- Yes! If you make your partner look and feel good, you will look and feel good. Not every dance has to be a showcase for your abundant talent.
- Tsk tsk. NO-NO. Only dancers who think they’re better than they actually are choose this answer. Partner dancing is supposed to be an act of sharing, not a contest. Try it and see how great you’ll feel!
When you’re in a class or workshop and your partner isn’t doing what you think they should be doing, should you:
- Stop following the teacher’s instructions and correct your partner?
- Keep trying to lead or follow your partner as best you can until you manage to do the move?
- Call the teacher over to ask them to tell your partner they’re not doing the movement correctly?
- Leave the class because you’re too good to dance with people who don’t know what they’re doing?
- NO-NO-NO! Your job is to work with your partner to learn something new and to treat the lesson like a fun experience. Besides, are you so sure you’re not the one doing it wrong?
- Yes, of course! You might have a few laughs and learn something along the way. If not, you still have the laughs.
- Yes and no. Sure, ask the teacher, but don’t whine about your partner, just ask if there is something you’re not getting. At least half of the time, you’ll find out that your partner is fine and you’re the one with the problem.
- NO-NO. Go ahead if you want the Idiot of the Day award. This is such a social no-no, there is no excuse for it. Why make someone else feel bad when the problem is your vanity? Suck it up and be a good sport. Everyone can learn something new, but you have to open your mind to it. Sometimes, the lesson is just being a decent human being.
Take classes and workshops. The best dancers continue to learn and train throughout their entire dancing lives. Practice on the dance floor is not the same as taking lessons. If it has been awhile since you’ve had classes, chances are your basics are not as smooth as they could be and your movements or form may get a little sloppy. That’s a NO-NO.
If you attend many free or nearly free events and say you’re supporting the community, don’t kid yourself. Yes, it’s good to come out to events and participate. But events are only free (or almost) for you, not for the people hosting them. Events are expensive to host! If you sign up for classes and conferences, you can say you’re supporting the community. If not, be honest, we’re supporting you and that’s a NO-NO.
Before you launch into a complex, acrobatic move involving a lot of head rolls or crazy spins, dance a bit with your partner to see if they’re up to it. They may be capable, but just not interested in Cirque de Soleil movements. That doesn’t make them bad dancers. NO-NO. Some of the most impressive dancing is built from basic moves done beautifully.
Try something new. No matter how much you love a dance and your dance friends, at some point, you will realize that you are doing the same old thing with the same old people to the same old music. NO-NO. Expand your horizons. Cross the dance floor from your group and ask someone new to dance. Try a new dance style. Try classes with a new teacher. Grow.
Stop talking about your dance friends like they’re your “family.” It’s a NO-NO. We all have families, whether they’re average, dysfunctional, or absent. Family relationships are simply different than friendships and friendships are different than acquaintanceships. You can have all these kinds of relationships in your life and they can all be worthwhile, but recognize that they’re different and come with different obligations and rules of conduct.
If you really want to support your dance community, dance school, and dance event promoters, register and buy tickets early. This is the way organizations determine whether or not a project is feasible. Not everyone will have to make money on every project, but most of them can’t afford to lose money over and over. Step up, commit to your passion, be a frontrunner, not a last-minute NO-NO. There is no virtue in waiting for something “better” to come along.
Dancing does not have to be an endurance test. That’s a NO-NO. You can love to dance without going out dancing six nights a week (like if you have a job and/or a life that is more than just dance). If you attend a congress or festival, there is no need to dance for 12 hours every day. Quality is just as important as quantity. It’s not a demonstration of your devotion to the dance if you dance until your legs are swollen and your feet are bleeding. People who dance for a couple of hours when they can might love dance just as much as the competitive, obsessive, endurance dancers do. Don’t dismiss them as less committed than you are.
Being a cheapskate is a NO-NO. Almost everyone can afford to fund his or her own leisure activities. Don’t expect dance school and event promoters to subsidize your passion. If something has a fee for participating and you want to take part, pay it and stop whining. Buy a bottle of water for $2! If you’re strapped for cash, have a regular coffee instead of a latte every time you go to Starbucks. Cheapness is rarely related to a scarcity of funds. It’s usually a character flaw and it affects everything about you—your tolerance for differences, your generosity towards others, and your spirit. Don’t be this.
Looking down on the clothing choices of fellow dancers is a NO-NO. Some people like to wear short, form-fitting dresses and heels to dance. Some people prefer jeans and sneakers. Neither of these choices defines dancing ability and in a truly accepting community, all are just fine.
This has been tough, straight talk, but we hope you will understand that it comes from a good place. Vancouver is not well known as a place with a vibrant, exciting dance scene. We can change that by building a place that is an inclusive, generous, giving community to share dancing with friends and new people who just might be friends you haven’t met yet.
There aren’t any BAD Dancers!
Often, you hear people make comments such as, “he has no rhythm” or “she can’t follow.” Sometimes the comments are even more harmful or mean-spirited.
Have you ever thought this or even said this to your friends? What’s really important about dancing anyway?
If you watch the dance floor at social dances, have you ever seen the dancers that dance every dance (even if they can’t dance?) but they’re always smiling – always having fun. They are actually having a great time.
When you watch people on the dance floor, do you sometimes wonder why they are dancing because they look like they’re in pain? Why would anyone go out social dancing for a night of work, frustration, and angst? There is a time and place for everything in life and those things don’t belong on the dance floor.
Social dancing is people moving together on the dance floor and enjoying themselves. We don’t all have to dance the same way. Even if you just get up and sway to the music, that can be your way of expressing pleasure in dancing.
A dance floor will always have people with different styles and knowledge levels about dancing, which doesn’t mean they are good or bad dancers, just people enjoying themselves differently for an evening.
Maybe if you take dancing so seriously that you’re losing your ability to laugh at yourself over a mistake, it’s time to take a lesson or two from a social dancer that doesn’t perform perfect steps but actually moves to music just for FUN!
-From Karen Kiefer
This is the foremost question many women ponder while sitting bored at a dance event.
“Why do I have to wait for someone to ask me to dance?” You don’t! If you’re comfortable doing so, get up out of your chair, cruise the floor, make yourself visible, walk over to a likely man, and ask, “May I have a dance?”
Admittedly, for a woman, or even a man, this takes a bit of courage. The fact is every person at this event has come to dance. The likelihood is strong that that you won’t be refused. This is the rule: you must dance with someone who requests. You must dance at least one dance; it is simply polite.
However, there are a few polite excuses:
• I am so sorry, I just refused another person, so I can’t accept your offer.
• I just danced so many songs in a row, and I have to sit down for a second.
• I’m dying of thirst and on my way to find a drink.
• My feet are killing me and I have to rest them for a little while.
Then, end with: Please ask me again later.
Dancers should also make themselves as appealing as possible to potential dance partners. Smell clean, wear clean clothes, and use breath mints. If you sweat a lot, change your shirt through the evening. It’s not fun to dance with someone who is soaking wet and/or smells awful.
When you receive a yes, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself. You could say “I’m just a beginner, so please be patient.” Most men are flattered to be asked, and are pleased to give the ladies a hand. On the other hand, most women are flattered to be asked, and are pleased to give the man a hand.
When you’re done, say thank you, and men escort the lady back to her seat, unless she is grabbed en-route by some other eager man.
If your dance with this person was not a particularly satisfying experience, resist offering advice. Try to be pleasant and even upbeat; remember you were a beginner once, too. Avoid saying “Don’t ask me again, especially until you’ve learned how to step on the floor, not my feet.” That’s just rude!
Beginner dancers are shy and embarrassed and find it hard asking a stranger for a dance. It may feel comfortable and secure to always dance with your regular partner, but it’s like the blind leading the blind. As with any new experience, beginners must persevere to climb this platform and reach a higher level. Beginners should ask more experienced dancers because here they will find consideration and guidance. More experienced dancers should offer dances to starters in a spirit of mentorship. It builds confidence on both sides.
A dance is a social event. Make new friends, get acquainted, and maybe arrange a dance practice. You’re not yet being invited to meet the parents. You’re being invited to assist the other person to facilitate the learning process at a workshop or an evening of dance. You will both benefit by being more competent and confident.
-From Tibor Káldor
For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have raved about the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being.
Most recently we’ve heard of another benefit: Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter.
A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.
Scientists studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards, and playing musical instruments. And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise, and doing housework.
One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits, of course, but the focus of this study was the mind.
There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing:
Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia
Bicycling and swimming – 0%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%
Playing golf – 0%
Dancing frequently – 76%. That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.
What could cause these significant cognitive benefits? Neuroplasticity created by increased complexity of neuronal synapses. Like education, participation in mentally engaging activities lowers the risk of dementia by improving these neural qualities. Our brain constantly rewires its neural pathways, as needed. If it doesn’t need to, then it won’t.
The key here is emphasis on the complexity of our neuronal synapses. More is better. Do whatever you can to create new neural paths. The opposite of this is taking the same old well-worn path over and over again, with habitual patterns of thinking and living.
The focus is creative thinking, to find as many alternative paths as possible to a creative solution. Those who spent their lives trying different mental routes each time, creating a myriad of possible paths, still have several paths left.
As the study shows, we need to keep as many of those paths active as we can, while also generating new paths, to maintain the complexity of our neuronal connections.
We immediately ask two questions:
• Why is dancing better than other activities for improving mental capabilities?
• Does this mean all kinds of dancing, or is one kind of dancing better than another?
The essence of intelligence is making decisions. The best advice, when it comes to improving your mental acuity, is to involve yourself in activities which require split-second rapid-fire decision making, as opposed to rote memory (retracing the same well-worn paths), or just working on your physical style.
One way to do that is to learn something new. Not just dancing, but anything new. Don’t worry about the probability that you’ll never use it in the future. Take a class to challenge your mind. It will stimulate the connectivity of your brain by generating the need for new pathways. Difficult classes are better for you, as they will create a greater need for new neural pathways.
Then take a dance class, which can be even more effective. Dancing integrates several brain functions at once — kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity.
What kind of dancing?
Do all kinds of dancing lead to increased mental acuity? No, not all forms of dancing will produce the same benefit, especially if they only work on style, or merely retrace the same memorized paths. Making as many split-second decisions as possible, is the key to maintaining our cognitive abilities. Remember: intelligence is what we use when we don’t already know what to do.
We wish that 25 years ago the Albert Einstein College of Medicine thought of doing side-by-side comparisons of different kinds of dancing, to find out which was better. But we can figure it out by looking at who they studied: senior citizens 75 and older, beginning in 1980. Those who danced in that particular population were former Roaring Twenties dancers (back in 1980) and then former Swing Era dancers (today), so the kind of dancing most of them continued to do in retirement was what they began when they were young: freestyle social dancing — basic foxtrot, waltz, swing, and maybe some rumba and cha cha.
If you watch dancers on a dance floor, you almost never see memorized sequences or patterns on the dance floor. You mostly see easygoing, fairly simple social dancing — freestyle lead and follow. But freestyle social dancing isn’t that simple! It requires a lot of split-second decision-making, in both the Lead and Follow roles.
Who benefits more, women or men?
In social dancing, the Follow role automatically gains a benefit, by making hundreds of split-second decisions as to what to do next, sometimes unconsciously so. Women don’t simply follow, they interpret the signals their partners are giving them, and this requires intelligence and decision-making, which is active, not passive.
This benefit is greatly enhanced by dancing with different partners, not always with the same one. With different dance partners, you have to adjust much more and be aware of more variables. This is great for staying smarter longer.
But men, you can also match her degree of decision-making if you choose to do so.
1) Really pay attention to your partner and what works best for her. Notice what is comfortable for her, where she is already going, which signals are successful with her and which aren’t, and constantly adapt your dancing to these observations. That’s rapid-fire, split-second decision making.
2) Don’t lead the same old patterns the same way each time. Challenge yourself to try new things each time you dance. Make more decisions more often.
3) The huge side-benefit is that your partners will have much more fun dancing with you when you are attentive to their dancing and constantly adjusting for their comfort and continuity of motion. And as a result, you’ll have more fun, too.
Those who fully utilize their intelligence in dancing, at all levels, love the way it feels. Spontaneous leading and following both involve entering a flow state. Both leading and following benefit from a highly active attention to possibilities.
That’s the most succinct definition for intelligent dancing: a highly active attention to possibilities.
The best Leads appreciate the many options that the Follow must consider every second, and respect and appreciate the Follow’s input into the collaboration of partner dancing. The Follow is finely attuned to the here-and-now in relaxed responsiveness, and so is the Lead.
Once this highly active attention to possibilities, flexibility, and alert tranquility are perfected in the art of dance partnering, dancers find it even more beneficial in their other relationships, and in everyday life.
Studies make another important suggestion: do it often. Seniors who did crossword puzzles four days a week had a measurably lower risk of dementia than those who did the puzzles once a week. If you can’t take classes or go out dancing four times a week, then dance as much as you can. More is better.
And do it now, the sooner the better. It’s essential to start building your cognitive reserve now so don’t wait — start building it now.
-From Richard Powers, Stanford Dance
Wouldn’t you rather be dancing?
Sam’s dance has a different idea about dancing for fun & friendship & fitness.
Join us to connect with new people face-to-face.
Dancing can change your life!
Hey, I can dance—WHY should I take lessons?
We’re glad you asked. There are a lot of good reasons and only one of them is just so dance schools can make money.
First, ALL great dancers continue to take lessons and train and learn. Dancing is not a skill you can learn, then leave on a shelf until you want to use it. It requires constant practice to maintain your skills. To improve your skills, you need lessons.
Second, your TEACHERS should continue to train and learn to maintain and improve their skills. Nobody knows everything when it comes to a skill like dancing. There are always things someone else can teach you.
Third, lessons are NOT just the means to the goal of becoming a good social dancer. They are also the END goal. Here is why:
- You meet new people when you take lessons;
- New people expand your dance world;
- Lessons can teach you new moves or old moves done differently;
- You can never learn all the styling you need;
- You have a chance to smooth out your fundamentals, which everyone needs;
- Your dancing will improve if you spend time dancing with partners at different levels;
- If you’re older, younger people can teach you to be more adventurous and try new things;
- If you’re younger, older people can teach you patience, precision, and timing;
- You can learn new dance styles;
- You can find new opportunities for networking;
- Lessons are good exercise and great for your brain; and
- Lessons are a fun activity!
Lastly, dance schools need your support if we are to continue to provide very inexpensive dance socials and practicas as well as FREE events. For us, nothing is free—we pay to provide these forms of entertainment. We do it because we love dance, because we want to build community, and because we’re trying to fill a need we see in our city for people to connect with each other.
While we’re building this dance world for all of us, we want to know what you think. Talk to us. Tell us what you like and what you don’t. We’re listening. We hope to see you on the dance floor soon!
Why Dancing Makes you Smarter
Dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels. Two recent studies show how different types of practice allow dancers to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory and ‘proprioception’ held in the cerebellum. Through regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week, anyone can maximize his or her brain function.
Why don’t professional dancers get dizzy?
Do you feel dizzy sometimes when you stand up? Does a fear of falling prevent you from exploring the world more? If you are prone to dizziness, a study has found that dancing may help improve your balance and make you less dizzy. In September 2013, researchers from Imperial College London reported on specific differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes. You don’t have to train to become a professional ballet dancer to benefit from some type of dancing.
The article is titled, “The Neuroanatomical Correlates of Training-Related Perceptuo-Reflex Uncoupling in Dancers.” The research suggests that years of training can enable dancers to suppress signals from the balance organs in the inner ear linked to the cerebellum.
The findings, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, could help to improve treatment for patients with chronic dizziness. Around one in four people experience this condition at some time in their lives.
Taking time throughout your life to improve the function of your cerebellum through aerobic activity and some type of dance is a fun and effective way to avoid the perils of dizziness.
Dr. Barry Seemungal, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, said: “Dizziness, which is the feeling that we are moving when in fact we are still, is a common problem. I see a lot of patients who have suffered from dizziness for a long time. Ballet dancers seem to be able to train themselves not to get dizzy, so we wondered whether we could use the same principles to help our patients. It’s not useful for a ballet dancer to feel dizzy or off balance. Their brains adapt over years of training to suppress that input. Consequently, the signal going to the brain areas responsible for perception of dizziness in the cerebral cortex is reduced, making dancers resistant to feeling dizzy. If we can target that same brain area or monitor it in patients with chronic dizziness, we can begin to understand how to treat them better.”
Visualizing Movements can Improve Muscle Memory
A July 2013 article titled, “The Cognitive Benefits of Movement Reduction: Evidence From Dance Marking” found that dancers can improve the ability to do complex moves by walking through them slowly and encoding the movement with a cue through ‘marking’. Researcher Edward Warburton, a former professional ballet dancer, and colleagues were interested in exploring the thinking behind the doing of dance.
The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that marking may alleviate the conflict between the cognitive and physical aspects of dance practice — allowing dancers to memorize and repeat steps more fluidly. This creates what is called superfluidity, which is the highest tier of flow.
Expert ballet dancers seem to glide effortlessly across the stage, but learning the steps is both physically and mentally demanding. New research suggests that dance marking—loosely practicing a routine by going through the motions—may improve the quality of dance performance by reducing the mental strain needed to perfect the movements.
“It is widely assumed that the purpose of marking is to conserve energy,” explains Warburton, Professor of Dance at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “But elite-level dance is not only physically demanding, it’s cognitively demanding as well. Learning and rehearsing a dance piece requires concentration on many aspects of the desired performance. Marking essentially involves a run-through of the dance routine, but with a focus on the routine itself, rather than making the perfect movements.”
To investigate how marking influences performance, the researchers asked a group of talented dance students to learn two routines: they were asked to practice one routine at performance speed and to practice the other one by marking. Across many of the different techniques and steps, the dancers were scored more highly on the routine that they had practiced with marking—their movements on the marked routine appeared to be more seamless, their sequences more fluid.
Conclusion: Synchronizing the Cerebrum and Cerebellum Creates Superfluidity
The researchers conclude that practicing at performance speed didn’t allow the dancers to memorize and consolidate the steps as a sequence, thus encumbering their performance. This type of visualization and marking could be used to maximize performance across many fields and areas of life.
-From Psychology Today
Dance is not just a hobby or passion–it’s a lifestyle.
It’s also a good workout.
In addition to unleashing creativity, dance is a way to alleviate daily stresses and bring happiness to those who embrace it.
Dance is an escape from reality; you can lose yourself in the music & movement.
It’s never too late to benefit from dancing, and you don’t have to be a professional to reap its rewards.
Enrolling in dance classes after work is a great way to incorporate dancing into your life. Soon, you can be dancing down the pathway to happiness.
Psychology Today says dancing makes you happier than working out the gym or going for a run. A study conducted at the University of London involved patients dealing with anxiety disorders. Patients dedicated time to one of the following therapeutic environments: an exercise class, a dance class, a math class, or a music class.
Out of all the activities, the dance class was the one environment that reduced anxiety a significant amount.
Another benefit of dancing frequently is that it stimulates the mind and sharpens cognitive skills at every age. Dancing stimulates different brain activities at the same time, including emotional, rational, kinesthetic, and musical. This increases the way your brain functions in a positive way.
So—dancing is a fun activity with a wealth of health benefits that keeps us in shape, makes us feel good, and makes us smarter! What could be better than that?
-from Elite Daily
Tips for Followers:
• Clear your mind and concentrate on your partner.
• Listen to the music, but avoid counting beats.
• Stop analyzing anything except the signals your leader is giving you.
• Don’t think of any specific steps.
• Follow the Leader’s chest.
• Be on the lookout for change.
• Don’t anticipate the next move or step.
• Keep in a receptive state of mind.
• Don’t try to memorize a pattern of steps.
• Try to maintain your own balance.
• Commit your weight to the foot you are stepping onto.
• Suspend the impulse to worry about where you are going and what you are doing next.
A follower can listen in many different ways to her partner:
• his body motion,
• his hand pressure on her back or side,
• visual cues, or
• signaling with subtle movements of eyes, head, etc.
THE THREE LAWS for Followers:
1. Never hold on;
2. Never let go; and
3. Don’t think, just do it.
if he doesn’t give the signal, you do nothing. If he gives the wrong signal, you forget what you were expecting to do, and follow the signal he gives instead. No exceptions.
You don’t have to listen to other people. Live your dream!
GREEN LIGHTS/RED LIGHTS OF A DANCE TEACHER
These are the signs to look for in a good dance teacher. Green is for good to go!
• Gives clean, clear instructions
• Easy to follow and lead
• Protects you
• Dances at your level
• Patient and kind to all partners
• Open to questions and repeating demonstrations
• Has an attitude of constant improvement
• Continues to learn and train themselves
If a teacher displays these characteristics, beware! Red is for stop and look elsewhere.
• Is rough or cause you pain
• Doesn’t care about your level
• Poor ability to dance around other couples
• Easily frustrated by a beginner student or partner
• Self-taught or learned socially (no formal dance or teaching background)
• Has been dancing for a short time
• Doesn’t look up to other professionals
• Only wants you to learn from them
• Only recommends the most expensive learning options
• Doesn’t ask you what you want to learn and where you want to go in your dance life
• Parties but doesn’t take classes with other professionals
A good dance teacher is not everything in learning to dance, but it can make your progress faster, smoother, & more fun!
HOW TO PICK A DANCE TEACHER
1. Dance with some different teachers:
A good teacher doesn’t need to be the best dancer in the room, but they should be the one most conscious of and interested in their partner. A good teacher should have substance as well as style and should have a strong foundation in the dance. A great teacher pays a high level of attention to students and is much less interested in showing off than in improving their students’ abilities
2. Ask questions:
Find out who the teacher learned from, how long they have been dancing and teaching (those should always be different numbers), and who are their idols in dance. Teaching is a separate skill from dancing. If you really want to learn to dance, keep in mind that learning dance informally can lead to a lot of bad habits that are hard to break! It’s best to learn from a qualified teacher.
3. Try a short session of classes:
Watch how they teach to see if you connect with their teaching style. You might not catch on to the dance right away, but the directions should be clear and not confusing. Don’t expect your body to internalize the movements right away. Dancing is a progressive skill. You should be patient but feel like you leave every class having learned something. Don’t forget to have fun!
4. Set up long-term goals:
A teacher should be able to help you plan how to get where you want to go with your dancing. This might involve recommending private lessons or workshops with travelling professionals.
5. Find out about the teacher’s plans for growth:
It’s easy for teachers to become complacent simply because they dance better than their students. You want a teacher who continues to learn, cross trains, and works at upgrading and updating their skills.
6. Look at how they treat their students and other social dancers:
A good teacher is kind to all dancers, not just the ones paying them. They should be able to deal with unsafe or undesirable behaviour from other dancers in order to protect and promote the dance community.
Are you a Good Leader or a Great Leader? (Or neither?)
First, to define the role:
Leader = responsible for guiding the couple and choosing, then initiating, transitions to different steps. The leader should signal the follow by using subtle physical and visual cues.
A Good Leader:
- Dances at the follower’s level.
- Has good musicality, which means the leader can hear the rhythm and understand the nuances in the music.
- Is clear. Not rough or forced, but the signals should be easily understandable to the follower.
- Has good connection with the follower.
- Is creative, but not a show-off. Part of being a good leader is making your partner feel great.
- Dances safely by watching out for other dancers.
- Makes the follower enjoy the dance.
- Understands that partner dancing is about two people.
- Is familiar with the basic rhythm and elements of the dance.
- Is calm, confident, and kind.
- Smells clean!
A Great Leader:
- Reads the follower and adapts to his/her level.
- Adjusts the lead based on how the follow reacts to each signal.
- Can make the follower feel like they are moving together with the music.
- Can do all this AND enjoy each dance!
Here’s How! Top 10 Ways to Improve your Confidence on the Dance Floor
- Do familiar things make you feel more comfortable? If so, wear your favourite shirt or dance shoes, dance with people you know at first, or ask the DJ to play some of your favourite songs for dancing.
- Be comfortable. Wear clothes that make you feel good and you feel make you look good. Wear shoes you are stable wearing.
- Make sure your dance posture is good. It makes you look and feel more confident and improves your connection to your partner.
- Don’t try too many tricky moves. Do what you do best, even if it’s solid, smooth, basic steps. It’s always better to focus on connecting with your partner than trying to execute fancy moves.
- Your energy level should be good. Not manic, not sluggish. Rest beforehand, eat, and keep hydrated.
- Don’t worry, be happy! Nobody, not even the pros, get every move every time. You don’t have to either.
- Let the music move you. Use the energy and emotion in the music as a source of confidence.
- Smile! Dancing isn’t something you have to do. You dance because you want to dance. Show that it makes you happy.
- Be a good partner. Say please and thanks, compliment your partner, say hi to people on and off the floor. Dancing is social.
- Be you. You’ll feel a lot more confident if you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. Whoever you are is good enough. Be proud of you.