Dance has so many benefits other than just keeping us fit and healthy! The benefits of dance in my life can be seen in obvious ways but because it has been central to my life for so long, I really don’t remember life without it frankly! I often wonder if dance was what gave me the benefits of being a focused and driven person, or if I gravitated to dance because that is the kind of person that I am.
Dance lessons and classes benefit children of all ages by developing problem-solving skills, mental flexibility, creativity, physical dexterity, coordination, skills in teamwork, collaboration, and self-confidence.
Now most of these are qualities people often name or think about when discussing the benefits of dance for kids. But in this article I wanted to go beyond the obvious and talk about the hidden benefits of dance – those things that I am grateful for being able to do today because I was a dancer – Hint – one of them includes the benefits I felt when giving birth to my four kids!
1. Dance Kids Don’t Have the Time to get into Trouble!
My mother always appreciated the fact that during my teen years, she always knew where I was (the dance studio) and that I really had no time for getting into trouble (because I was at the dance studio). This turned out to be true, my peers who weren’t in dancing had all sorts of stories about their rebellious teen years, but I don’t have too many wild stories to share because I was focused on my dancing and the thing is I don’t feel like I missed out on anything that my friends got to do that I didn’t!
2. They learn to celebrate failure!
Dance is one of those activities where failure is never a bad thing because it means you are trying and at the end of the day, that is all your dance teacher is asking you to do – to try. In the classroom your teachers want you to fail, which is different from having you feel like a failure, they want you to make your mistakes here in the classroom, they want you to attempt everything they are teaching you and basically expect you not to be able to do things the first time around. But although they have this expectation in the back of their mind through years of experience in teaching dance, it is not their philosophy to focus on the failures, but your ability to improve! And that is why you go to dance class, and why you repeat the same skills over and over because you are practicing them not until you can get them right once, but until they are so ingrained in your muscle memory that it is almost impossible to get them wrong – and if you do get them wrong after all that practice….. it just means your teacher will be there to support you to get it right again!
3. Dance Kids are extra motivated to do the right thing!
The last thing I wanted as a dance kid was for my parents to ever say to me “because you are behind on your schoolwork or because you had detention at school, or because you broke curfew or whatever other rule I might have broken that I wouldn’t be allowed to go to dance class – So I didn’t break the rules! The thing is my parents never hung it over my head like – well if you don’t behave there will be no dance class, but I always knew it was a possibility!
4. Introverts can learn to be Extroverted through Dance
I did a personality test (3 times) the other day and it came up to the disbelief of many family and friends that I am an introvert! This did not surprise me in the least- meeting new people, making phone and zoom calls, small talk all give me anxiety. The thing is I can easily talk on stage in front of a large audience, I can MC an event if asked to, I can easily lead a group – things most introverts ould run away from. It’s not that I don’t feel nervous about doing these things it’s just that having danced for such a large part of my life under the stress of things like competitions, performances, and live television I developed coping strategies. Dance lessons were my psychiatrist taking me through cognitive behavioral therapy during my childhood – getting me used to situations I might otherwise have withdrawn from.
5. They learn to use feedback for positive change
As a dancer, you are constantly given feedback and corrections to help you improve and become the best dancer you can be. The thing is this feedback is not always given in a positive way and can feel more like criticism, rather than helpful information. As a dancer, you begin to be able to learn to take whatever feedback you are given whether positive or negative and decipher it, and decide whether the corrections are valuable to your improvement. Sometimes this can be a painful experience where a teacher’s words cut deep, but in a world of likes, comments, and trolls being able to take feedback and know when to disregard it, is an invaluable skill! You also learn the etiquette of giving feedback yourself and can transfer this into your own use of things such as social media or even later in life in leadership roles and positions.
6. They build core muscles for life!
I once heard Heidi Klum say to some haters about her body bouncing back after pregnancy – if you didn’t look like me before you had a baby, why would you expect to look like me right after? Now I am not saying my body looked like Heidi Klum’s after any of my four pregnancies and births, but I will say I had a set of sturdy core muscles beforehand. As a dancer, you will develop glutes, abs, and arms like the rock-hard sculpted legs of professional dancers today. Having these hard-working core muscles prepared me for the physical activities I enjoyed as an adult – hiking, jogging, or even giving birth to my children!
7. They can deal with physical pain better than most others
Have you ever seen a ballerina’s toes? Those dancers put their feet through some serious pain and learn to push through it! Now I was never a ballerina, in fact I was never very good at pointe work – but I felt pain let me assure you. Whether it was when the teacher said ok, just one more time full out for the 5th time in a row, or the aching muscles the day after a long rehearsal and having to dance through the pain, or the time when my hamstrings snapped doing a split on stage. Dancers learn to deal with physical pain better than most. This will always benefit you in life, and I for one am thankful for my dance training when it came time to go through labor without painkillers!
8. Dance Kids develop a Growth Mindset
I can’t do that…….YET, becomes a mantra to the dancer who learns over time that with a little practice and hard work that any goal they set for themselves they can achieve. Dancers go into each class not knowing how to do many of the things their teachers are going to ask of them, and it may take weeks or even years, but they learn with time, consistency, and commitment that they can learn and master hard things. This mindset is called a growth mindset where you believe that you can become better by trying as opposed to looking at a task and believing only talented people who are already great at dance will ever be able to do that.
9. They can easily follow a fitness class at the gym!
I recently joined a gym and at the start of each class, I go up to the teacher and ask them what equipment I might need and let them know that I am new. In the end, they are always astounded and say I looked like I was a regular to the class. I put this down to muscle memory as well as I believe (this is not proven) mirror neurons in my brain that were well trained over many years as a dance kid and teen. I follow choreography easily so can follow a gym instructor’s movements and keep up with the steps even if I haven’t been to the class before or the gym in a long time.
10. Dance kids tend to have more stamina as adults
Going back to the gym scenario, it also hasn’t taken me long to be able to do the whole class at a high intensity – higher than many other regulars in the class! This is due to the muscle memory of repeated motions over the years and improved dynamic control of my body. It is also because as a kid and teen my cardiovascular system was given the opportunity to build up endurance which I have found as an adult is easy to reboot after a little hard work.
11. Walking in Heels is easier!
Not all dancers dance in heels, but many do! My tap shoes had heels and so I learned at a young age to balance my body and walk toe-heel when wearing them. When I was older we danced in character shoes which had a 2.5inch heel. In those, I had to do leaps, kicks, run, and more all looking graceful at the same time. I have also noticed that as a result, I am exceptionally good at walking in heels because my body knows how to balance when wearing them and how to put my feet down elegantly when wearing them – even though I barely wear them now as a mom.
12. They don’t look awkward on the dance floor!
One of the best things about being a dancer was never having to be too self-conscious on the dance floor. Not only are you used to dancing in front of people from doing so in dance class, but if you have had the opportunity to try many different styles of dance as I did you are able to dance with grace and style in any situation.
13. They have really strong leg muscles! (And arms!)
I am amazed at what my body is capable of now that I don’t exercise as regularly anymore. When I stopped dancing, I noticed how much stronger I am than a lot of other people – even my husband at times! We have moved house so many times in the past 10 years that there have been many times I have been at home and have had to move heavy boxes for example around only for him to come home and huff and puff and struggle to do the same.
14. They will have great posture for life!
Dancers, especially ballet dancers, hold themselves in a certain way – more upright than others with their shoulders back rather than haunched. Dance training encourages good posture by strengthening the muscles in the back and the core. But more importantly, it develops discipline and the good habit of standing and sitting with correct posture. Good posture is essential for a healthy back, and dance kids get the benefit of knowing that if they keep up their training this healthy habit will stick with them for life!
Get your kid started in dance today!
There are so many hidden benefits of dance for kids that you may not have thought about, and they’re all worth exploring! If you’re an introverted kid who wants to learn how to be more extroverted, or a parent looking for ways their children can stay out of trouble in the future! Get started today with these 11 benefits of taking up dancing as a hobby. I promise it’ll change your kid’s life for the better!
If you are wanting to read about the more obvious and researched benefits of dance make sure you check out our article Why Dancing is Beneficial for Kids | What Parents Need to Know