By SYLVIA WAKHISI
Many of us opt for different ways to unwind after a hectic schedule. To lower stress levels, one may opt for a weekend getaway or spending some moments at the spa. Dance is also an option, and it offers more benefits than one might imagine.
For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. Further research shows that dancing also aids in stress reduction and a sense of wellbeing. And did you know that frequent dancing could make us smarter?
Dancing is important in the sense that not only is it considered an expressive art that can convey one’s feelings, but it can tell a story, entertain, and be used as a way to keep fit and stay healthy.
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According to Kevin Babb, founder and director of Dance Kenya Studios and executive director of Bethezer Dance, dance is more than just exploring different ways to make a formation or learning a series of steps to music; it is a way of moving that uses the body as an instrument of expression and communication.
“Dance is not just about shaking the body; it relaxes the body and mind and promotes cohesiveness among dancers,” says Babb.
“Through dance, students learn teamwork, focus and improvisational skills. A good dance programme should raise the academic standards of a school. Dance awakens new perceptions in children, which help them learn and think in new ways.”
Dance Kenya Studios offers professional dance instruction in jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, creative movement, contemporary, African, modern, ballroom, and Latin (including salsa) dance at various locations in and around Nairobi. Their students are aged between four and 60.
“The benefits associated with dance fall into three categories; physical, social, psychological. Additionally, there are character building aspects,” says Babb.
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The physical benefits of dance include flexibility, balance, coordination and strength while the social benefits are that one develops an appreciation of others, and working as a group.
Psychologically, dance helps to build one’s confidence, self-esteem and body awareness.
Character wise, it also helps to instill discipline, commitment and responsibility in an individual.
Students who embark on a serious study of dance can be expected to learn about the role of dance for the individual and the culture, and to understand basic nutrition.
Jazz dance classes for all ages are held at the Sarit Centre in Westlands, while the tap dance classes for all ages are held at the New Image Fitness Centre, also in Westlands. Children’s dance classes are held at La Danza in Westlands, while other classes are also held at Sportsview Hotel in Kasarani. Classes are held every day.
The group also has a dance programme on dance and the scriptures, which take place every Sunday.
“We view people as multi-faceted beings. While our physical bodies must certainly be looked after, we must also acknowledge, value, and seek to strengthen the emotional, psychological, and spiritual condition of our students,” says Babb, who began dance classes at age four, and dance instruction at the age of 12.
He has been teaching for more than 30 years, and has held classes, workshops, and seminars in several countries.