“I did a fox trot at my wedding in 1968 because my wife said I had to, but that was it,” Joel told me at his first Anyone Can Dance® class. "I really don't think I can dance!"
And surprise! no one thinks they can dance until they try! More seniors than ever before are realizing that dance is not only fun and gives you an opportunity to interact with music you love, it’s also really good for you. You can dance in a chair, holding onto a chair or barre, or moving across the floor.
Movement can do a variety of wonderful things for the dancer:
1. It improves your breathing – in order to move effectively, you have to know when and how to inhale and exhale – and how to conserve your breath.
2. It gives you self-confidence. Although in the first few classes, everyone feels awkward, many students say that they suddenly see themselves as graceful after a month or two of dancing.
3. It gives you rhythm, which you need for simple things like crossing the street and getting on an escalator. When you can find the first beat in a musical phrase, you’re halfway there!
4. It gives you the opportunity to move with others. Choreography of these classes is usually for many people performing a “solo” at the same time. Or, they can perform their dance in a “wave,” where they start a phrase a few beats after the dancer beside them.
5. Singing and dancing at the same time improves coordination and accentuates rhythm.
6. You get your fitness programmed in without having to do sit-ups and crunches! Some of the exercises involve basic bicep curls, shoulder presses and lunges, turned into patterns that resemble cheerleader routines. Even without using weights, students get stronger from the repeated intervals.
The medical community acknowledges the potential benefits of dance for persons with restricted movement, movement disorders or chronic illness on social life, health, body-feeling and mobility, and on activities of daily living.