Learning to dance is an integral part of our lives and has been since the days of the cave man. There are dances for ceremonies and rituals. Tribal communities in Africa, Australia and other parts of the world, use ceremonial and ritual dance to call on the gods for help with farming, success in hunting, fertility or other tribal issues. There are also special dances chosen to appease the gods,and dance to send the spirits of the dead at rest.
Like modern day football, the ancient Greeks had a “half-time” during their 8th century games at Olympia. At intermission time, the dancers would come out onto the field and entertain the crowd with flashy and elaborate dances; just as the cheerleaders of today come out onto the turf to perform complicated and entertaining spectacles. There was a sense of excited expectation in the air that is much like half-time at today’s football games.
Even though dance still has a ritualistic element to it, these days it is done more for the fun of it. Dancing can be an exciting and intoxicating feeling. Many people are taking dance classes for the health benefits as well. There is a lot of bending and stretching required for some forms of dance; so those learning to dance naturally become more flexible over time.
Dancing exercises all the major muscle groups by forcing the muscles to resist against the body weight of the dancer. Lifting and bending will strengthen the muscles in the back, shoulders and arms. Leg muscles build up more with dances that involve jumping and leaping. Because dancing is a form of exercise, it increases endurance just as any other exercise would. At first, learning to dance would be tiring. Over time, dancing would become easier as the dancer’s endurance builds up.
Dancing not only exercises the body but involves the mind. During tribal ritual dances, the dancers enter a somewhat hypnotic state. Dance classes involve learning the steps of a dance, how to move, how to bend and stretch and how to synchronize the moves of the dance with one or more people. Some dances involve only one or two people. Other dances may have hundreds of people involved as well as elaborately choreographed steps.
Studies have shown people involved in dance classes or other social activities gain a sense of accomplishment and have a higher self-esteem for themselves. People that have a higher sense of self-esteem are more likely to be outgoing and positive in their interactions with others.
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