Dance Your Way to Happiness

As dance instructors, it goes without saying that dancing brings us joy. We all know that if we’re having a hard day, we can just get up and dance, and even if nothing is resolved, we at least feel better about it! But, do we just enjoy dancing because it’s a lighthearted, fun activity or does dance actually have the power to make us happier, healthier individuals?

According to an article in Arts London News, a psychology student at the University of New England, Rosa Pinniger, has found that dancing can actually fight depression. “You really have to focus, concentrate, and it doesn’t allow your thoughts to drive into your mind,” she told CBC news.

When we look at the facts, it’s clear that dancing does, in fact, make you a happier, healthier person.

 

1) It’s a great form of exercise.

  • Exercise releases endorphins in the body. These chemicals reduce the perception of pain and trigger positive mental and physical feelings in the body.
  • The U.S.D.A recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity twice a week, so why not dance those 30 minutes away?

2) Not only is dance good exercise for your body, but also for your mind!

  • Dancing incorporates several simultaneous brain functions like rational thinking (keep in step with your partner), musical creativity (make your movements match the music), and an emotional sense of well being (support your partner and move with them in unison).
  • When you memorize new dance steps and patterns, you build new neural pathways. Making these connections becomes more and more important to maintain regular brain function as you age.

 

3) Learning to dance makes you focus and concentrate on just one task.

  • Because dancing requires your brain to function on so many levels,  there is no room for negative thoughts, and the less you think about negative things, the less they have a negative effect on your life.
  • In a society of many distractions from iPhones, advertisements, facebook, and tweets, it’s important to give your brain solid blocks of time to just focus on one task at hand. Though it might be hard to focus at first, only worrying about one thing at a time can be calming and meditative.

4) Music is therapeutic, but dancing to music is even more therapeutic.

  • Music provokes a natural emotional response, and it can provide comfort and therapy when needed. Dancing allows you to just get lost in the music.
  • It’s no secret that your body has a natural, physical response to music. There’s a dance style for almost any kind of music, so whether you love Mozart, Eminem, or anything in between, just moving to your favorite song can make you feel at home.

 

The benefits of dancing are endless. So, get up, grab a partner, and start moving. You never know the joy it can provide until you try it. Feel free to share how dance has brought joy to your life in the comments below!

Say Yes to Your First Dance

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of details to be accounted for when planning your wedding reception, and of course, every couple has their own priorities. But, whether your wedding will be a formal affair or a quirky, unique celebration, your first dance as a married couple is the one detail that can’t slip through the cracks of your wedding planning process. So, why is the first dance so important?

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1) It kicks off the party and sets the mood for your reception.

Your guests want to have a good time, and more importantly, they want to see you having a good time. Let them celebrate not only for you, but with you.

2) This is your one moment to spend time together, just the two of you.
In the chaos of greeting all of your guests, taking photos, and ensuring everything is running according to plan, how could you pass up the opportunity to share a few intimate minutes with your partner? It might be the only time you get to be alone together all evening.

3) It’s tradition.

No, I don’t mean it’s wedding tradition like the Best Man speech or playing “The Final Countdown” as your D.J. introduces the wedding party into the reception. I mean tradition dating back centuries. When an affluent family would host a formal affair, the hosts or the guests of honor would typically kick off the celebration with the first dance of the evening.

4) It’s a metaphor for your relationship.

The entire wedding is an expression of you and your spouse to be, but the first dance is your opportunity to truly show off your dynamic as a couple. Let your guests see how playful and fun you are together or how romantic and supportive you can be toward each other. Every couple is unique, and dance is a great way to express the way you bring out the best in each other.

5) You’ll learn to dance together.
Make a date of it. Wedding planning is filled with lists and errands, decisions and deadlines. Take time out every week leading up to your wedding to just enjoy each others’ company. Grab a bite to eat, then take a lesson and learn a skill that you can share well into your happily ever after.

The benefits of opting for a beautiful, thought out first dance are endless. After all, this celebration is about you two, as a couple, starting the rest of your lives together. If your marriage begins in sync, it’s much more likely to sustain its rhythm.

Tell us what you enjoyed most about performing or preparing your first dance. Share your stories in the comments below!

Oh, Those Summer Nights

It’s officially summer in the city, and you know what that means! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the many benefits of living in one of the greatest cities in the world. The beautiful weather can have the power to make you forget the last five months of below-zero trudging through the snow, so make the best of it by grabbing your favorite dance partner, and hitting the floor! Every summer, there are endless music and dance events that happen throughout the city, and some of our favorites are right around the corner. Here are just a few of the best events to get you moving this season:

 

1) Swing Nights at Fizz:

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What: You’ll begin with an hour long swing lesson, then the floor opens up for social dancing until 1am.

Where: Fizz bar – 3220 N Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL

When: Monday Nights, 8pm – 1am / Lessons from 8 – 9pm / Dancing from 9pm – 1am

Price: $7 ($5 with student I.D.)

Web: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Swing-Dancing-at-Fizz/73706742234

 

2) Chicago SummerDance Series:

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What: Dance to the sounds of 44 different live bands and get into step with dance lessons beforehand. Glide across the restored 4,900-square-foot, 100 percent recycled, open-air dance floor designed by Chicago artist Dan Peterman. Swing, waltz, cha-cha…or simply enjoy the music. FREE!

Where: Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park – 601 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL

When: Fridays and Saturdays 6pm – 9:30pm, and Sundays 4pm – 7pm throughout June, July, August and September

Price: FREE!

Website: http://www.chicagosummerdance.org/

 

3) Live Music and Dancing at Green Mill Lounge:

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What: Every Tuesday enjoy 1920s and 30s hot jazz for your listening and dancing pleasure. Every Thursday experience an old time radio broadcast up close and personal with Alan Gresik Swing Shift Orchestra

Where: Green Mill Lounge-  4802 North Broadway, Chicago, IL

When: Tuesday, and Thursday nights 9pm – 1am

Price: $6

Web: http://greenmilljazz.com/

 

4) The Global Dance Party:

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What: The Global Dance Party is a Friday night series offering an exciting opportunity to experiment with dance styles from around the globe. Each evening will feature a dance class followed by two hours of music from live bands or DJs in the Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall.

Where: Old Town School of Folk Music – 4545 N Lincoln Ave · The Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall

When: Friday Nights at 8:30pm, Class then Social Dance with Live Music

Price: $10

Web: http://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/globaldanceparty/

 

Do you have any favorite dance events in Chicago? Share your go-to’s in the comments  below!

Wedding How to : Fill the Dance Floor at Your Wedding Reception!

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Your ceremony was gorgeous, your guests had a blast at cocktail hour, and your first dance as husband and wife went off without a hitch, but the party has only just begun! Of course you and your fiancé are going to have a great time partying at the reception; the day is all about you, after all… but how can you be sure your guests will join in on the fun?

IT’S ALL IN THE MUSIC

Whether you hire a D.J. or a band to entertain your guests, there are a few crucial steps to keep in mind while coordinating with your entertainers. A beautiful, personalized, well-crafted reception can easily fall flat without the right music to keep the mood going, so don’t let this detail fall off your radar!

Here are some key points for customizing your reception entertainment:

1. Make a “DO NOT PLAY” list.

You and your fiancé should each come up with a list of songs and artists that you simply do not want to hear on your wedding day under any circumstances… i.e. songs that remind you of past relationships or bad memories, the chicken dance, or that Justin Beiber song that you can’t stand to hear one more time.

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2. Consider your closest friends and family members, and add a couple of their favorites to the queue.

You know what gets your friends and family singin’ and dancin’, so even if it’s not your favorite song, make sure some of their favorites make it into the playlist. Not only will they appreciate you for thinking of them, but it’s also a sure-fire way to get them out on the dance floor.

3. Have a back-up plan.

Always account for the possibility of technical difficulties! D.J. equipment can falter, or the band might need to take a break. Assign a member of your wedding party to manage this type of situation. They can cue some impromptu speeches when the music stops or have speakers and an iPod on hand in the event of an emergency.

4. Hold your wedding party accountable.

They are there to support you, after all, so make them your dance floor ambassadors. Ask them to be out on the dance floor all night, and remind them to include everyone in the party. They should be pulling people onto the floor all night long.

5. Let it go.

Don’t micro-manage. You know your guests best, but chances are the D.J. or band you hired has been to more weddings than you have. As the experts, they should know how to control the mood of the party and handle any situations as they come. It’s important to share your vision with your entertainers, but try to leave the details to the professionals.Image

The party will undoubtedly be a hit if you’ve covered all of your bases! Now, all you have to do is dance the night away.

How did you plan for your reception entertainment? Share your reception entertainment tips below in the comments!

 

Dance and Your Sex Life

dirtydancing copy“Dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.”

-George Bernard Shaw

It’s no secret that certain dances can really heat things up: think Flashdance, or that go- go dancer at the club last weekend. Ladies, I know you’re thinking about that scene in Dirty Dancing, and though I would thoroughly enjoy being thrust into the air like an angel, this baby would rather be in the corner with Swayze if you know what I mean. But, even more important than getting a little hot on the dance floor, the way we move with our partner can reveal a lot about our relationship preferences and sex lives behind the scenes.

In an article published in Psychology Today, Dr. Peter Lovatt suggests that we communicate the quality of our genes to potential mates through dance. He found that women prefer dancing with men with heightened testosterone levels, and men prefer dancing with women who are at the fertile stage of their cycle. Because there is a direct correlation between our hormonal levels and our preferred dance partner, Lovatt’s study proves that dance can even play a role in our mate selection process!

But, as intriguing as these findings are, we don’t need scientific proof to tell us that there are countless benefits to making dance a part of your relationship. Here are just a few:

1)    The experience of leading and following eachother through a dance builds intimacy and trust in your partnership.

2)    While learning together, both partners must exhibit patience, cooperation, and support: all necessary qualities for a healthy, thriving relationship.

3)    Dancing provides a special attention to physical connectivity and responsiveness, which translates directly into a more satisfying sex life. The knowledge you gain about your body as well as your partner’s provides you with the confidence and ability to satisfy each other’s needs.

Learning to dance with our partner gives us a place to practice these healthy patterns, which in turn, show up in our day-to-day experiences together. Plus, there is no denying that dancing with a partner is an intimate body contact experience, so what better way is there to connect and share time with your lover than holding each other in frame and moving in sync together?

How has dancing positively influenced your relationship? Share below in the comments!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Dance Lessons

As dance instructors, we work tirelessly to give our students the best learning experience possible. However, there are a few things that are out of our control, so we gathered a list of the 9 most important things our students can bring to the table to make their learning process the best it can be.

blogsept copy1) Set Goals with Your Instructor

When meeting with your instructor for the first time, it is important to formulate clear, challenging and attainable goals. As you proceed through the learning process, don’t hesitate to reassess your direction. Learning to dance is a process, and your goals may change at different points in your journey.

2) Start Early

When preparing for an event such as a wedding, start the process of learning to dance early. Because the brain and body process new habits and information over time, learning a new skill can take weeks, months or even years! To ensure a sense of confidence and success, give yourself ample time to prepare.

3) Practice

They say practice makes perfect, and they’re right!  Not only does practice reinforce the skills you learn during your lessons, but also allows you to think less and have more fun out on the floor. When learning to dance, repetition is the only route to building muscle memory. If you do not have a partner to practice with, ask your instructor for steps and techniques to work on solo.

4) Don’t Go Hungry

You wouldn’t go to the gym on a full or empty stomach, right? Dance is a form of exercise, both mental and physical, so have a small snack before your lesson. Eating lightly will keep you alert and energized through the full hour, and you’ll feel much more accomplished at the end.

5) Wear the Right Shoes

At every lesson, be sure to wear comfortable suede or leather-soled shoes with a supportive arch. Ballroom, swing and Latin dances require you to slide, spin and maneuver lightly on your feet. Rubber soles just won’t cut it. You can find ballroom dance shoes in Chicago at Chicago Dance Supply or simply order online.

6) Take Notes

Students who take notes after each lesson spend more time progressing to new techniques and steps during their lessons and less time repeating what they already learned. Create a notebook for dance, and write down as much as you can recall after each lesson. We recommend reviewing your notes right before your next lesson to keep everything fresh.

7) Dance With a Variety of Partners

Every dancer connects and moves differently, so it’s important to experience a variety of dancers to truly hone your leading and following skills. Try taking lessons with all the BDC instructors and join us for our monthly BYOB dance parties.

8) Take Lessons Regularly

Learning to dance is a lifelong process. Though the skills you learn in your dance lessons will never completely disappear, it is crucial to keep them fresh and to continue building your dance vocabulary. Creating a regular schedule of dance lessons will not only help you stick to your goals, but will also reinforce the techniques you’ve worked so hard on in the past.

9) Leave Your Troubles at the Door and Just Have Fun!

Sometimes leaving daily stress behind can be the hardest thing to do, but when learning something new, starting with a clear mind is always the best way to ensure success. Coming in to each lesson with a positive attitude truly leads to a happier, healthier learning experience.

Do you have any other suggestions? Post below!

7 Tips for the Social Dance Floor

We love dancing the night away in Chicago! Whether it’s a wedding reception, a night club or one of our BYOB practice parties, there are many things to consider before hopping on the dance floor. Here are a few tips on social dance etiquette for the next time you cut a rug with your partner.

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1) Moving Around the Floor

Because some songs call for a variety of different dance styles, dances that travel (Foxtrot, American Tango, Waltz) are done around the outside of the floor in a counter-clockwise direction. Dances that remain in place are done in the center of the floor. For example, foxtrot steps travel around the outside of the floor while swing steps are danced in the center.

2) Hit and Runs

On a crowded dance floor, it is common to bump into the couple dancing next to you. If you’re part of a collision, stop dancing, make sure no one is hurt and apologize. If you are a leader, you ultimately are responsible for where you place your partner, but as a couple, you should both be aware of your surroundings. If you are a follower, you should act as the leader’s back-up set of eyes. If you see a collision about to happen, tighten up your frame and give the leader’s arm a squeeze to let him know you’re in a tight spot.

3) Teaching on the Dance Floor

Just don’t do it! Your partner is there to dance, not to be critiqued by you. If, however, your partner is interested in going over something with you or asks for your opinion, move to a corner or the side of the dance floor to work together.

4) Applause

It’s polite to applaud live musicians at the end of each song and a DJ at the end of their set. They are performing for you, after all!

5) Altoids

Bad breath is bad, enough said.

6) Asking Someone to Dance

Always approach a potential dance partner face-to-face and ask politely if he or she would like to dance. Never grab someone’s hand and pull them onto the floor against their will. At the end of a song, be sure to thank your partner for the dance, too!

7) Saying No

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to dance with someone who asked you, it’s polite to sit out for the rest of that song.

Any other tips or questions? Leave a comment below!