10 Reasons Why You Should Join A Ballet Class
May 14, 2022
4 min read
"When ballet takes to the sea, even the sunset comes to take a sneak peek." -Anthony T. Hinck.
Originating in the Italian Renaissance as court entertainment, ballet, as a dance form, has made its way to the centerstage. The grace, poise and elegance that ballet dancers bring to the scene has been mesmerizing lovers of art for centuries. However, ballet is more than just an art form; it can transform you physically and mentally. Here are some benefits of ballet training:
In today's day and age, as we spend endless hours slumped in front of a screen, our posture takes a hit, giving rise to long term health problems. Ballet is all about achieving postural alignment. Every exercise and stance in ballet requires you to maintain a good posture - neck elongated, shoulders back, a lengthened spine and a strong core. Regular ballet practice encourages us to carry this awareness of our posture and apply it to everyday actions of how we stand, walk or sit. Maintaining a good posture goes a long way in improving and maintaining overall health.
The ballet barre is an essential element of dance training. This part of ballet focuses solely on stretching while you hold onto a wooden or metal bar with one hand. Ballet movements involve the stretching of muscles in almost all parts of our bodies - legs, feet, arms, back, and neck. Continuous practice improves flexibility, mobility and muscle tone.
A long day can often leave you feeling tired and exhausted, which sometimes makes it difficult to do our best at the tasks at hand. Having a high stamina allows us to perform daily activities more efficiently without feeling easily fatigued. Ballet dancers have great levels of power and endurance built by hours of practice and training. Improved stamina levels leave you feeling fresh and energetic, in turn boosting overall physical and mental well being.
Interestingly, ballet is one of the best full-body workouts out there! Balancing, bending, stretching, twisting and jumping require you to use every muscle group in the body, shaping and strengthening them along the way. Performing these movements repeatedly and reworking muscles time and again makes them stronger, more resistant to wear and tear, and keeps them lean and supple.
Performing can be a daunting class - be it in front of a small group of people or a large stage audience. Ballet gives you the chance to try and learn something new and challenge yourself every step of the way. Performing movements which you once considered difficult (or even impossible!) can make you feel accomplished and motivate you to do better. Ballet allows you to slowly get to know your body better and understand all that it is capable of. Stepping out of your comfort zone and putting all that you have learnt into practice in front of a live audience can do wonders for self confidence.
Ballet demands a great deal of discipline, focus and concentration. It is essential to constantly be present and concentrate on the various actions you have to perform and change within minutes - be it skipping, counting beats, coordinating the movements of the arms and legs, maintaining the right posture - all at the same time. Carrying out such intricate tasks simultaneously increases neuroplasticity- which in turn helps with learning, memory and comprehension. Ballet is as mentally demanding as it is physically, and the longer you practice it, the more time you have to enhance focus and mental agility.
The pandemic has taught us the importance of social connections more than ever. Ballet classes are a great way to meet new people and make friends with similar interests. Learning and growing with peers and sharing experiences promotes a healthy and supportive space for children where they feel loved and accepted. While children observe their peers, they develop a sense of empathy and companionship - watching other kids their age experience similar struggles, helping other students and accepting help from them makes children feel comfortable and relaxed in the environment, making them want to come to class ready for more. More often than not, children carry these friendships and experiences beyond the class as well.
As discussed above, ballet is an intense physical workout. Exercise releases endorphins - happiness hormones or ‘feel-good’ chemicals - in the brain, triggering a positive feeling in the body, making us feel content and happy during and even after class. It has been proven that ballet (and other forms of dance) release more endorphins than other forms of aerobic exercise. Moreover, listening to classical music has been shown to have positive, calming influences on the brain and aid focus and concentration. Doing ballet also results in reduced cortisol levels leading to lower stress levels, improving the overall quality of life.
Ballet exercises usually involve quite a lot of multitasking. Performing a ballet routine is all about doing a complex set of physical actions - moving the arms and legs in different directions simultaneously, coordinating your movements to the music, and controlling your motion when required. Executing a routine with perfection can thus be challenging, but it gets better (like it always does with practice!), and your brain and body become well coordinated over time, and start flowing effortlessly in sync before you know it.
The need for self expression is a fundamental requisite of human life. Ballet allows us to express ourselves, to communicate the overwhelming emotions and sentiments we feel within, and tell a story through the beautiful mediums of movement and music. Ballet allows us to let go of everyday struggles and enjoy the freedom of motion and sound - almost like an unspoken truce with ourselves and those around us. Being able to freely express our feelings and thoughts allows us to live joyous, lighter and fuller lives.
Ballet involves performing graceful choreography to precise musical notes and beats, engaging both hemispheres of the brain and boosting sensorimotor skills. Moreover, reports also suggest that dancing reduces the risk of dementia by 76% by keeping our minds sharp and active. Most importantly, it is a fun activity that can refresh and relax you and help you find some solace in the chaos of everyday life.
So it doesn’t matter if you have years of dancing experience or if you are simply ready to try something new, starting ballet dancing definitely sounds like a good idea!