When your daughter enrolls in ballet, she learns more than pas de bras and first position. Classical ballet classes help develop mental strength and instill poise, good posture and self-discipline. Lessons taught at the barre transfer to a student’s schoolwork and future career, as well as a child’s perception of herself.
“Ballet is an art form. It’s good physical exercise, but it’s also a creative outlet,” Lindsay DiGiuseppe Bowman, school director at Contemporary Ballet Dallas, said. “It teaches you to look within yourself to fix a problem, and that transfers to other areas of life.”
Ballet’s Benefits Last A Lifetime
The physical benefits of ballet are undeniable; ballerinas boast tight, toned muscles, a strong core and good posture. However, ballet transcends fitness; dance develops grace and poise that spans a lifetime.
Jacqueline Porter, artistic director at The Dance Conservatory/Park Cities Dance, said, “ I think the most striking physical benefit is how ballet affects one's posture and core. Even if a student never dances beyond a beginning level, they will have learned to stand erect with the core held in and chin high – which translates as energetic and confident.”
Porter insists that ballet does not focus on perfection of movement. It’s about the posture and poise of the art form. “Ballet emphasizes that beauty is in how you hold yourself, the look on your face and what you give to the audience,” she explained. “You need not be perfect to look at, or popular in school or good at sports. These things are not valued in a ballet studio. Hard work, artistry and achievement are valued.”
Ballet Exercises Your Body And Mind
Unlike other exercises, ballet demands full concentration. Classes challenge dancers to exercise their minds, follow directions and strengthen their memory. Bowman said, “I see dancers come out of class [at Contemporary Ballet Dallas] saying they’re not just working out. They have to use their brain, too.”
Ballet improves cognitive skills and memory capacities, which prepares dancers to perform better in the classroom. Dancers also learn to follow directions, focus on the task at hand, overcome difficulty and manage their time well. “When I was younger, I would always get my homework done so I could go to ballet class,” Bowman reminisced.
Dance lessons instill another valuable trait: mental toughness. Ballet is difficult, exhausting and often painful. Dancers must overcome these challenges to reach the next level of ballet.
“Through the process of learning difficult things in a shared space, ballet teaches keen spatial and social awareness, respect for peers, respect for the teacher and finally respect for the tradition of ballet itself, “ Porter said. “There may be times the child does not want to come to class. But being expected at ballet class or rehearsal teaches the student as well as the parent to say, ‘Yes.’ This habit of pushing through the ‘I don't feel like it’ extends to everything a child will do in school and as an adult.”
It’s Never Too Late To Enroll In Ballet
The best time to enroll your daughter in ballet is between 2 and 10 years old. However, it’s never too late to begin dance classes. “We’ve had more than 250 adults, ages 18-60, take our Absolute Beginning Ballet course in the last six years,” Porter said.
Among adults, dancing helps improve mental health and combats dementia. An article in The New England Journal of Medicine states, “Participation in leisure activities may lower the risk of dementia by improving cognitive reserve …. Dancing was the only physical activity associated with a lower risk of dementia.”
Similar to age, ballet does not discriminate against gender. Porter recommends that all boys enroll in a dance class to improve flexibility, agility and confidence. She said, “If your son and his friends want to be better athletes, call the dance studio and arrange a custom class for his team that will include stretching and agility jumping.”
If your child shows hesitance toward ballet or wants to quit, don’t give up immediately. Bowman explained, “Some kids are really into it. Some don’t like it as much because the music is slower and the steps are harder to execute. But keep it up because ballet teaches a child to be disciplined for life.”