Since the earliest of recorded history we have known dance either in celebration or during worship. It is more than just a pass time it is theessence of who we are and what our true nature represents. Dance is the strongest feeling from deep within. In a sense you could say, it is born into our souls. The desire to dance well is inside us all and it is usually a person’s journey from emotion to motion. Dancing is not a reflection of life but is a basic human expression of life itself. It is an expression, which is inextricably connected to the finer nuances of life.
Ballroom dancing is the most artistic of social pastimes. In all countries and societies dancing forms an integral part of the lifestyle. While the initial motivation to dance is often a social one, once past that hurdle of actually learning to dance, many find the music, the atmosphere and the dance, an opportunity to take on a new persona. In an instant, the dancer can be mentally and emotionally transported to almost any scenario of their choice: an elegant gala ball in Vienna, a fun filled dance party on the Caribbean islands, a bull fight in Valencia or even to a back street bar in Buenos Aires. Yes indeed dance has that element of make-belief and imagination linked so strongly to it.
The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) and The Ballroom Dancing Association (BDA), both world famous organizations known for setting rules and regulations for various styles of dances has divided Ballroom dancing into two major categories viz Standard, and Latin American Ballroom Dances. Under the Standard category we have the graceful Waltz and Viennese Waltz, romantic Foxtrot, energetic quickstep and the passionate yet angry Tango. Under the Latin American category we have the sensuous Rumba, the cheeky Cha Cha, fun filled Jive, festive Samba and Paso Doble, a fight on the dance floor.
Whatever may be ones musical taste or individual preferences, the variety of ballroom dances ensures that there is always something for everyone at any point of time. In romance and matters of the heart, ballroom dancing is a wonderful way of expressing your emotions. Express your love through the Rumba or the Waltz, tease your beloved with the naughty Cha Cha, show your annoyance with the Tango and if you want to fight it out there is nothing better than a Paso Doble. That is, why it is said that ballroom is one style of dance where one has ‘A dance for every mood’, so one should never complain, that one is not in a mood to dance. Usually, our moods also vary in a single day depending on the state of mind, environment, atmosphere and the company we are in. Dancing to great music with electrifying rhythm and tempo can change ones frame of mind and transform our mood to a great extent.
Ballroom dances are one art form that anyone at any age and fitness level can learn, enjoy and derive benefits from it. The only thing one needs is a strong urge and regular practice. Both the young/old, healthy/weak are fond of music, if taken seriously it can give a young person as much physical exercise as they desire, fast ballroom dances like Jive, Paso Doble, Samba, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz are as good or even better than going for a regular aerobic session. Records prove that a ballroom dance class can burn up to 600-800 calories in an hour. For a middle aged or busy working individuals dances like Cha Cha, Waltz and Tango can provide exercise which is effective without being too strenuous, it acts like a stress-buster and helps them to loosen up. For people facing health problems like; high blood pressure, diabetics, knee/back pain or in some cases even heart problems dances like; Rumba and Foxtrot can act as a natural healer, as these dances are just simple, rhythmic, graceful walking which helps them stay healthy, relaxed and calm.
Practicing regular ballroom dancing definitely helps to improve social life; it inculcates the aura of grace, poise, elegance and sense of balance in the body improving one’s body posture. In fact medical profession also recommends ballroom dancing to people with bad body postures, so as to improve ones stance and spinal cord positioning. An individual with a royal gate is undoubtedly magnetic and attracts attention at any social gatherings, adulation and appreciation develops a special feeling from within which enhances personality making the person a self-confident individual. Going out for dances with like-minded people transforms individuals from being inhibited and introvert to outgoing, self-confident human beings who are completely rejuvenated and refreshed.
Many dance schools and studios along with dance also teach dance floor etiquette, social graces and manners which helps in an all round development of one’s personality. Ballroom dancing is also a great way to learn the social niceties, which is vital for moving around in polite society. All ten styles of Ballroom dances come from different parts of the world they have their interesting culture, lifestyle and stories to narrate thereby helping people make knowledgeable interaction with each other specially when one travels abroad.
With the International Standard and Latin American Ballroom Dance competitions now a part of the Olympic Games, these dance styles are all set to inspire and reach an even wider audience and attain even greater popularity not only through competition dancing but also through local dance schools, events and parties. Therefore it’s advisable and recommended by the medical profession that people of all age groups, backgrounds and various job profiles should learn to dance as it is an easy way to stay fit, relax, unwind, make new friends and lose one’s inhibitions. Above all it’s sheer fun! The sooner one learns to dance the longer one gets to enjoy it. By learning the correct techniques it will not be too long before you can say in a true sense that “We had a ball of time”.
(Sandip Soparrkar is a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on email@example.com.)