Footloose & Fancy Free: The Wonderful World of Dance
Dec 26, 2019 04:18PM
You don’t have to be as talented as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to enjoy the benefits of dancing. You don’t have to wear costumes like they do on Dancing with the Stars (unless you want to!). And you don’t have to be a certain age to cut a rug. Dancing is the perfect exercise; it’s fun, easy, and you can do it anywhere.
There are physical and mental benefits to dancing, both of which are important for living a long and healthy life. Dancing improves heart and lung health, it can increase muscle strength, and help keep your bones strong. What’s more, it gives you better coordination, flexibility, and balance; challenges your brain and helps focus; reduces stress and increases self-esteem; and can minimize the symptoms of depression, reduce anxiety, and help with insomnia. Studies have also shown that dancing can reduce the risk for developing dementia, since the cardiovascular exercise combined with the moves you have to think about while dancing affect you neurologically—in a good way!
When it comes to dance, you have choices: ballroom, ballet, jazz, tap, square dancing, and belly dancing are just some of the more popular styles. You can also “free style” and dance however you want, wherever you are, and to whatever music you like!
Did You Know:
Ballroom is a style of dance that includes waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, paso doble, samba, and mambo, to name a few.
Who was the first person to dance? Did people look at that person like they were crazy? It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment dance was created, but word on the street is that cave paintings were found in prehistoric times. Early on, dancing was part of religious rituals. Some danced as a precaution from disease. It was also a way to show feelings toward someone you liked or loved. Ballet pirouetted its way into our lives in the 15th century and we’ve grown from there with hundreds of different types of dance to enjoy today, including the mashed potato and the twist. In the ’70s, we were given the bump, the hustle, and the YMCA. The ’90s granted us the achy breaky heart and the Carlton. And now we have flossing, orange justice, and dabbing. Dancing is always changing and evolving!
History of Dance:
Dancing is something you can do anywhere—in your kitchen, at a party, or in a dance class. If you’re looking for the latter to either learn something new or sharpen your skills, the following are some of our favorite local studios and clubs.
Local Studios We Love
School of Sacramento Ballet
Although their curriculum is geared toward sculpting professional dancers, they also offer tap and ballet for adults and seniors, and a senior fall prevention class. Sacramento Ballet’s Mel Quecke says, “Dancing is great for both your mind and body; it allows one to workout, tone, and strengthen from head to toe—even a few muscles you didn’t know you had! Learning routines and counting steps helps focus your mind and has great benefits for memory.” She adds, “The greatest benefit happens when one is taking any class that increases physicality, balance, joy of movement, and personal expression.”
School of Sacramento Ballet also has a professional company, which hosts several performances a year. Their trainee program performs a lot of community outreach shows as well as other performances throughout the year that anyone can purchase a ticket to.
2420 N Street, Suite 100, Sacramento, 916-732-3660, sacballet.org
Apple Jacks & Jills AND Main Street Strollers
Line dancing and square dancing classes can be found here! Nancy DeGan says there have been studies on the benefits of square dancing. “People are exercising, while at the same time listening, comprehending, and moving. All the neurons in your brain are engaging and people are laughing and touching, which is good for the soul.”
Square dance attire is not required for modern square dance. Ladies can wear slacks, jeans, square dance skirts, shorts…whatever they feel comfortable wearing. Guys wear long or short-sleeved shirts and slacks or jeans, and even shorts in the summertime. Apple Jacks & Jills formed in 1978 and is still going strong with over six squares (eight people in a square) dancing every Wednesday evening. The Main Street Strollers was established in 1982 and is also a very strong club with up to six squares dancing every Thursday evening.
Apple Jacks & Jills: 2020 Smith Flat Road, Placerville, 916-933-2790, asdsc.org/apple-jacks-n-jills
Main Street Strollers: 467 Main Street, Placerville, 530-748-7756, asdsc.org/main-street-strollers
For more square dancing clubs across the region, visit asdsc.org.
The Ballroom of Sacramento
This studio offers couples and line dancing, plus American, rhythm, Latin, country, and social dancing. Everyone is welcome in all classes. They also offer an afternoon dance, called a tea dance, which typically attracts an older crowd. Linda Infante, who DJs at the school, says, “Dancing is not only a great way to exercise, but good for the mind. We have so many people come out and four or five months later notice their clothes are fitting differently, but they’re having so much fun they didn’t think of it as exercise. It’s also very helpful in keeping the mind sharp and is a wonderful way to stay social and meet new people.”
Whether you’re seeking a private lesson or group class, prices are reasonable, so everyone can afford to partake. After 23 years, they recently relocated and are enjoying a beautiful new studio.
9500 Micron Avenue, Sacramento, 916-456-2616, theballroomofsacramento.com
Midtown StompAs Sacramento's only venue with regular live swing music and Lindy Hop, it’s a rockin’ good time. Avail of both private and group classes or events like Friday night swing from 9 p.m. to midnight (with an introductory lesson at 8 p.m.). Oftentimes, a live band joins the party and other nights you swing along to the sounds of a DJ. Group and private lessons are also available, and a partner isn’t required.
The studio offers, and recommends, starting with their free, 30-minute introductory private lesson where you’ll meet an instructor and get to know the space.
2534 Industrial Boulevard, Suite 150, West Sacramento, 916-221-1500, midtownstomp.com
Classes specific to adults here are offered in beginning ballet, jazz, and tap. Owner Deirdre Hawkins says, “Beyond the obvious benefits of weight loss, increased metabolism, muscular strength, flexibility, and improved coordination, for boomers there are benefits that are sorely needed as we age. Brain and bone health, lowered risk of dementia, improved neurological and cognitive skills, as well as a heightened sense of well-being are terrific reasons to keep moving. I’m a boomer myself and dance five days a week and feel like I’m 35.” All forms of dance contribute to the benefits you receive. Hawkins continues, “Ballet, at least in the beginning stages of training, emphasizes alignment and specific placement of one’s body, which is so important in understanding the line of the body. Jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop dance move much more rapidly using isolated body movements and not necessarily following any specific dance vocabulary. Tap emphasizes fine motor skills with rapid rhythmic patterns.”
Hawkins School of Performing Arts
You can call the studio and the desk manager will offer suggestions for your complimentary first class based on your age and interest. They emphasize the beauty and joy of dance for all ages, whether it’s for personal growth or to embark on a career.
118 Woodmere Road, Folsom, 916-355-1900, hawkinsschool.com
Arthur Murray Dance Centers
This studio offers all types of partner dancing, from ballroom, Latin, swing, and salsa, to tango, Western, and wedding dances. Kate Gonzalez, from the Folsom location, says: “There are so many different benefits to dancing and learning to dance, including increased physical health, mental stimulation, social connection, and emotional expression and fulfillment. There have been scientific studies that ballroom dancing reduces the risk and/or slows down the process of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Plus, it’s just overall fun!” Fast dances, like swing and hustle are great for social occasions and others like rumba and Argentine tango are more intimate and great for building romance.
Arthur Murray Dance Centers have been teaching the world to dance since 1912. That’s over 107 years! All of their instructors are certified dancers and teachers. And Gonzalez says, “We have mastered getting someone to walk in the doors and dance out by making learning to dance fun, quick, and easy.”
220 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, 916-895-5600; 4141 Manzanita Avenue, Suite 200, Carmichael, 916-971-3550, arthurmurraysacramento.com
Other Studios To Check Out:
Sac Dance Lab, 7300 Folsom Boulevard, Suite 201, Sacramento, 916-572-8336, sacdancelab.com
• Classes in jazz funk, hip hop, ballet, and more
Step 1 Dance & Fitness, 1920 T Street, Sacramento, 916- 448-7837, step1danceandfitness.com
•Classes in Zumba, hip hop, sculpt & define, fierce funk, tap, and more
Studio Physique Dance & Fitness, 3069 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento, 916-900-6759, physiquedancefitness.com
•Classes in barre, contemporary, jazz, and more
Check your local parks & recreation department for even more affordable, adults-only dance classes in a variety of styles.
Here are even more reasons why you should turn up the music and dance like nobody’s watching.
• Feel the burn. Depending on how much you move and how long you dance, you can burn at least 200 calories.
• Social butterfly. It’s a good way to meet new people, as you tend to talk and interact more when you’re on the dance floor.
• Mind matters. It keeps your mind stimulated. Depending on the type of dance, you may have to memorize steps, which will help with memory.
• Stress less. Exercising releases endorphins and that makes you happy!
• Reignite your flame. Dancing is a great way to reconnect with your partner.
• Art smart. Dancing brings out your creative side.
• Stand tall. Having a regular dance practice will improve your posture, balance, and coordination.
• Happy go lucky. Most importantly... it’s fun!
Top 20 Best Dance Movies
20) Dirty Dancing (1987)
19) High Strung Free Dance (2018)
18) Five Dances (2013)
17) Chicago (2002)
16) Strictly Ballroom (1992)
15) An American in Paris (1951)
14) Grease (1978)
13) Stormy Weather (1943)
12) Frances Ha (2012)
11) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
10) Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
9) West Side Story (1961)
8) Shall We Dance (1937)
7) Moulin Rouge! (2001)
6) Swing Time (1936)
5) Billy Elliot (2000)
4) Top Hat (1935)
3) Black Swan (2010)
2) The Red Shoes (1948)
1) Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
If you’re looking for a new activity or new form of exercise, try dancing! Grab your partner and do-si-do, tap or plié your way into a class, or do the mashed potato while you’re making mashed potatoes! Have fun and stay healthy. And if you think you can’t dance, remember the words of Maya Angelou: “Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.” Including you.
By Julie Ryan