Dance is rhythmic movement of the body within a specific space for the purpose of expressing ideas, moods or emotions, releasing energy, and/or simply enjoying the pleasure of moving to music. A broad range of dance styles exist, from folk dancing and classical ballet to hip hop and contemporary dance. Some dances are communal, such as spring’s maypole dance or the Jewish hora; others are for performance and provide entertainment to an audience.
In addition to building muscle strength, dancing can help strengthen bones in the knees, ankles and feet. When dance movements require bearing weight (such as those in ballet), the bones in that area improve and sometimes even build new bone mass. Dance can also help improve balance and coordination, which is important as people age. In fact, studies show that taking dance classes can actually slow down the decline in balance and coordination.
Dance can be a great social activity, offering an opportunity to connect with others and share a sense of joy and well-being. It can be a form of meditation, a way to express emotions or a way to celebrate life’s joyous moments. It can also be a challenge, requiring concentration and commitment to learning a new routine. And, like any exercise, it can be done at any age and throughout the life cycle, improving the health of children and teens, and contributing to the physical and mental wellness of adults and seniors.