Throughout my childhood, I initially starting dancing at home and soon fell in love. I started by copying dance moves I would see on TV, but quickly desired to learn more. I was so passionate at the age that I even went out to purchase dance instructional DVDs. When I was young, I only ever danced at home since I was a very shy person, but my life changed once I reached high school and learned that dance is offered as a school elective. I made one of the best decisions for myself when I decided to jump on the opportunity to dance! It was through these high school dance classes that I truly gained confidence. Once I became confident in dancing around others, this same confidence started to appear in all aspects of my life – school, work, relationships and putting myself forward!

Dance instills a sense of achievement

In high school, I struggled with precalculus math. I desperately reached out to my teacher for help and he said, “some people just aren’t good at math”. This prompted me to believe that I would never have a stable career – I felt crushed. With emotions high, I walked into my dance class where we learned new dance moves and choreography. Not only did this help me reduce stress, but the concept of learning something new and mastering something difficult truly gave a sense of achievement. It impacted me because it taught me that I can learn and that I do have a lot to offer. Dance has provided an opportunity for growth and development in a visual way. I loved it so much that whenever I would dance, I always left happy and with a positive mindset. This change in mood pushed me to constantly take on new challenges.

Dance reduces shyness and builds assertiveness 

I have always been the student that sits in the corner at the back of the room because I wanted the least possible attention on myself. When I started dance classes, the instructor would always have us rotate positions and take turns performing at the front. This pushed me to be more assertive and confident in myself. The more often we did this, the more I found myself wanting to dance right in front of the mirrors. I genuinely lived through the dance mantra “practice makes performance”. I quickly began to perform assertively and confidently, and I loved every moment of it. Fast forward to now, you will find me sitting at the front or centre of a room whether that be classroom, office or forums.

Dance improves communication skills

Communication is an essential life skill and the best way to develop effective communication is through practice. Dance gave me opportunities to utilize and master this skill by cooperative work. As a dancer, I remember always having to communicate with classmates to perfect choreography. This taught me to use both verbal and non-verbal cues for movements and directions. I had to learn to assess a situation, to respond and communicate accordingly. The same principles of dance class communication were applicable to my everyday life. This was especially transferable to my school group projects where I had to communicate with my classmates in friends to carry out tasks. Effective communication gave me the ability to be in new situations and have the confidence to handle those situations.

Dance builds a better self-image

As most young adolescents, I struggled with my self-image.  There are images constantly circulating the media that insinuate that we are not attractive enough nor good enough, reinforcing the doubt and struggles that exist for most men and women (especially teens). The first thing dance showed me was a positive relationship with my body. I was moving and using my body consistently. Exercising regularly meant that I was treating my body better and that led to me feeling better about my body. By being present in dance class I learned to be present in my own movement, rhythm, and flow. In that moment and time, I was free from comparing myself and was in tune with my own beat. These many small moments of being mindful and present in my body and seeing my body positively and treating my body kindly developed a positive relationship that has been enduring.

Are you ready to start dancing?

Take the plunge and register for a winter seasonal program today – it is never too late to learn.

Author: Akech Mabior