Posted by Chris Lynam
I once had a student who was a young, fresh-out-of-the-box, teenager.
He came with all the normal teenage accessories: A chip on his shoulder, a rebellious attitude, and little regard for life beyond his gaming device.
He took dance lessons with his mother as a form of punishment for bad grades.
Three years, two pairs of dance shoes, and one growth spurt later… his dance lessons were no longer a punishment. They were his reward for finished homework assignments, good test scores, and completed chores around the house.
How did this transformation happen? Let’s explore it with the following article:
1. Social Skills (Time Machine)
Think of every activity in high school that instantly improves through social skills. What if those skills are lacking? That high school dance becomes a death sentence instead of an opportunity.
Ask any current dancer what they would use a time machine for, and 93% would go back to high school with their current dance skills.
Knowing how to dance, asking/accepting, and socializing while moving is like giving your child Graduate School level social skills for high school.
2. Create An Entry Point
Think of all of the groups that hang out together in school:
- The Jocks
- The Cheerleaders
- The Drama Department
Each group forms a type of barrier that is tough to break into. Learning to dance changes that.
- Dance creates confidence and improved physical fitness to pursue SPORTS
- Dance creates confidence, rhythm, and flexibility to pursue CHEERLEADING
- Dance creates confidence, showmanship, and performance abilities to pursue THEATRE
Even if your teenager never pursued these other groups, dancing is a gateway to many social groups… even the “Dancer Group”.
3. Something For Everyone
With shows like Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, we’ve begun to see that Ballroom dancing isn’t what we used to think it was. It can be really cool. So, when your son or daughter decides to take lessons, just know that there are many dances they can choose from – it’s like a buffet for healthier hobbies.
- Waltz – The Classic. Naturally Improves posture
- Tango – Super cool. Adds drama! Not that practical, but neither is tap dancing.
- Swing – Dance to popular music from every era since the 1920’s. Your kids + your parents = Awesome
- Cha-Cha – A fast, exciting Latin dance. A big hit on the dance TV shows.
- Rumba – Where everyone levels up their Latin styling
- Foxtrot – Whether you are getting ready for a wedding reception, or if you just love the music of PostModern Jukebox – Foxtrot is the dance that fits like a, very dapper, glove.
- Salsa – The most popular partner dance over the last few years
4. Improved Memory
Watching TV is great, but your brain gets as much exercise through ballroom dancing as your body does. Combining things like
- Physical activity
- Strategic planning
- Emotional expression
Not only does this creates better dancing, but better memory. Not only for dancing, but for life in general. Compare this to watching TV or texting, and you can see why this is a big deal.
5. A Unique Hobby
Sometimes unique kids need to find a unique hobby. Not everyone wants to follow down the same path as the rest of the pack. Learning to dance can be the nitch that connects them to a community, allows them to have fun, and grow and develop their confidence at their own pace.
There is one absolute when it comes to ballroom and latin dancing. No one ever says, “I’m glad I waited so long to get started.” Everyone that begins this as an adult wishes they had started as a teenager, or sooner.
The teenager I mentioned went through a transformation. But that couldn’t have happened without a gutsy move on the part of his mother. It may have been punishment in the beginning, but having the ability to dance with your teenager was the life-changing payoff.