Once you lace up your pointe shoes, there's nothing like the high of becoming one with the music. Everything else in the world fades away when the music begins. Your breathing coincides with each graceful movement, as your feet whisk you away across the dance floor. Like “The Nutcracker,” every dance to a dancer seems like a magical fairytale… and we get to dance it.
Croise devant, demi plié and arabesque may seem like foreign terms to outsiders, but to dancers, these moves are within a beautiful language all their own. Dance is not just a hobby or passion… it's a lifestyle.
From tiny tutus to the big leagues, we've danced our hearts out on stage in gorgeous leotards and costumes; we've dealt with all sorts of blisters on our feet. The irreplaceable memories that have gotten us to where we are today show that the battle scars are well worth it. Within the elegance of being a dancer, it's also an extreme workout.
Any dancer will tell whoever thinks dancing is not a sport that they’re completely wrong and encourage them to try dancing in our shoes for a day. Professional dancer Shanna LaFleur once said:
It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.
Dancers grew up with each choreographed number being a magnificent work of art — the stage as their palette and each move, a vibrant color. In addition to harnessing creativity, dance is an outlet to alleviate daily stresses and bring so much happiness to those who embrace it. It's an incredible escape from reality, where you can lose yourself in the movements. There's actually research that proves people who grew up as dancers are less stressed and happier.
According to Prevention, Swedish researchers conducted a study involving 112 female teens. Each of the girls was dealing with back and neck pain, anxiety, depression or stress. Half of the studied teenagers were involved in dance classes each week, while the other half of the girls did not attend classes. The results were very positive for the teens who incorporated dancing into their weekly routines. Mental health was improved for these girls, and it was also reported they experienced a mood boost.
In a press release, lead study author Anna Dubert stated, “…dance can result in high adherence and a positive experience for the participants.”
Prevention goes on to say it's never too late to benefit from dancing, and you don't even have to be a prima ballerina to reap its rewards. Enrolling in ballet, modern or lyrical classes after work/on the weekend is a great way to incorporate dancing into your life. And soon enough, you'll be twirling down the pathway to happiness.
Psychology Today says dancing makes you happier than simply hitting up the gym or going for a run. A study conducted at the University of London involved patients dealing with anxiety disorders. They dedicated time to one of the following therapeutic environments: an exercise class, a modern-dance class, a math class or a music class. Out of all the settings, the modern-dance class was the one environment that reduced anxiety a significant amount.
Author Vicki Baum once said: There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.
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. Imagine that, a fun activity with a wealth of health benefits that keeps us in shape, makes us feel good and makes us smarter!
I’m a dancer, and I have done it all: ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, Irish, hip-hop and plain-old rocking it on the dance floor. I have to say, I agree 100 percent with the conducted research. Dancing has all of these benefits and so much more.
Happy feet are truly good for the mind, body and soul.
- Alexa Mellardo