Science can prove that there are physical benefits associated with dance and performance, including staying active and preventing osteoporosis. Yet, there are also many psychological benefits that dance can provide to young people.
According to Better Health, dancing can improve the condition of your heart and lungs, increase muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness and improve muscle tone. In turn, learning to dance provides the opportunity to develop skills such as spatial awareness, balance, aerobic fitness and coordination. Dancers are challenged by new movements, varied rhythms and different dance styles, which help to establish qualities of awareness, teamwork and resilience.
In the UK, researchers conducted an experiment with adults ranging from 60-80 years-old who showed no signs of memory loss or impairment and allocated them to one of three activities: brisk walking, stretching and balance training, or dance classes. The aim of the experiment was to see if increasing aerobic activities or introducing activities such as dance could help protect the brain from aging. The results of the brain scans after the activities exhibited that those adults who participated in dance classes three times a week had less deterioration in the brain than the other activity groups.
Memory plays a pivotal role when developing dance routines or acting scenes. It takes a lot of brain power to remember the movement sequences of a dance, even if your last class was only a week ago. Dance is much more fun and an energetic way to work out your brain and body simultaneously.
Coordination, strength and balance
Dance is a physical activity that requires the use of various muscle groups. Dancing enables the spine to elongate and muscles to lengthen so that the body feels supple and strengthened. Stretching the body improves the overall mobility range in joint areas such as hips, ankles, knees and shoulders. Dance is becoming more popular among sporting athletes such as footballers and soccer players to help them gain a stronger sense of balance and coordination. Even if you play a sport, having a background in dance will enable you to fall to the ground safely if you encounter some kind of slip or collision, and will also improve your flexibility. Lastly, dance is a combination of short bursts and long bursts of cardiovascular activity, which means that the length of high impact aerobic workout is varied. This can vastly improve your fitness levels and help to gain a stronger sense of inner strength.
As issues surrounding mental health become more prominent in our society, it is vital to find an outlet or hobby that makes you happy and passionate. Dance has proven to trigger the release of endorphins and boost the overall mental function of a person. This can be due to the mind focusing on the movements rather than their personal dealings - study life for example, but also increasing aerobic energy helps to relieve any stress. Dance and drama enable people to develop the confidence to thrive in their personal and academic lives, plus training to eventually perform on stage can help to combat issues around self-esteem and overall mental functioning. These events encourage children to be socially engaged with others and work in a team environment to achieve a common goal.
Can you learn dance and drama at Toorak?
Anyone can learn to dance and perform. As part of an overarching need to ever-evolve the performing arts at the School, Toorak College has just launched its own performing arts academy called TAPA this year. Toorak Academy of Performing Arts is for all our students who are also budding dancers, singers and actors or maybe just seeks a bit of a confidence boost.
The interest around TAPA has been “massive” she said with the academy already offering more than 15 classes, five days a week. The program extends to all Prep to Year 12 students from beginner to advanced in the styles of Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet, Drama and Musical Theatre. Now with more than 150 enrolments (almost 20 percent of the student body), it is clear to staff that our students have a strong passion for the performing arts.
“Participating in these classes whether it be dance, drama or musical theatre allows the students to explore and further develop their passion for performing arts. The classes help to develop confidence whilst learning the skills of their chosen performance art. They use their imagination and develop an aesthetic appreciation for the art form whilst have fun,” Ms Jensen said.
All students across the three disciplines will perform at the Frankston Arts Centre in an end-of-year concert to showcase their abilities.