And why not? It’s fun and good for your physical and emotional health.
“Every savage can dance,” Jane Austen once said. So, whether or not you are Gene Kelly or the person who is coerced onto the dance floor after a cocktail or two … or three, it has direct benefits. (The dancing, that is.)
Dancing is a great way to incorporate aerobic exercise into your regular routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular aerobic exercise is key to wellness at any age and fitness level. The benefits of aerobic exercise include improved cardiovascular and lung function, weight management, mood elevation and overall improvement in strength and gait.
Boost your mood, live longer, lose weight, improve organ function and have fun as you do it? Sure sounds better than a cure-all pill touted on infomercials–and without the side effects. So, where do you begin?
Tim Bourgett, co-owner of Second Street Dance in Schererville, recommends beginning with ballroom dancing. “With ballroom dancing, the instructor will literally show you which foot at what time. Then through repetition and muscle memory, you are dancing!” he says. “We offer basically anything related to ballroom. Not everyone has to be Ginger Rogers, but everyone will have fun.”
Rodolpho Blanquicett, a Second Street instructor says, “Dancing is a beautiful sport. It sees no boundaries.”
Whether you want a challenge or just a way to unwind, dance is good for the body and mind. Second Street student Dave McClure is an advocate for the therapeutic benefits of dance. By his appearance, McClure doesn’t fit the mold of a dancer. “I like that I can break that stereotype,” he says. “No one believes me when I tell them I used to dance competitively until they see me dance.”
An operator at Midwest Pipe Co., McClure recently came back to the studio after his wife was moved to an assisted-living facility. “It has been a difficult transition with my wife not at home, but I knew where to find my joy again.”
Also, dancing has many social benefits, such as making new friends, building confidence, and rekindling romantic flames. Tony and Julie Coberg, co-franchisees of Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Merrillville, can attest to that.
“We have couples who have been married for over 30 years,” Coberg explains. “You know the types where they can complete each other’s sentences? They have a wedding or event and they decide to take lessons. Then after the event, they realize that they are still having fun and they continue beyond whatever initially brought them to our studio. I’ve been told that dance lessons have enhanced many relationships.” That benefit may not be in the sales pitch, but Coberg admits that he loves watching people discover it themselves.
At the thought of ballet, one might imagine pirouetting directly into the emergency room. Gloria Tuohy, the founding artistic director/CEO of Indiana Ballet Theatre, reassures that isn’t the case. “In ballet, there are many techniques that can be applied to any age or ability level,” Tuohy says. “Many of my older students enjoy dance as an alternative or addition to their regular exercise, especially doing barre work and stretching.”
Originally from England, Touhy enjoys bringing the culture of ballet and dance to the region and she has been doing so through classes and productions for the Indiana Ballet Theatre (IBT) more than 37 years.
“Physical or medical conditions may prohibit people from fully engaging in dance, but that doesn’t mean that there are not other ways to participate,” she says. “We have volunteer opportunities with IBT, especially with productions. We have people who assist with everything from props, to costumes and even as ushers at our performances. For many, they just love to experience dance in any way that they can.”
Whether you are a dancer at heart or ready for a new adventure, dance just might be the answer. In the words of Bob Fosse, “Live like you’ll die tomorrow, work like you don’t need the money and dance like nobody’s watching.”
Where to Dance
Arthur Murray Dance Center
1205 W. Lincoln Hwy, Merrillville
(additional locations nationwide)
Indiana Ballet Theatre
8888 Louisiana, Merrillville
(additional locations in Valparaiso and DeMotte)
Second Street Dance Studio
121 E. Joliet St., Schererville
Her artwork has been exhibited from Los Angeles to New York and is included in a number of publications. She is currently the Director of Education for South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.