If you or your child are interested in taking dance classes, you may browse the options at local dance studios and wonder which style of dance is right for you. Perhaps you dream of tapping your shoes to peppy music in tap dancing class, or maybe modern dance seems like a suitable outlet for your creativity. Eventually, you can pursue whichever style of dance you prefer. But first, you should take a step back, and take a few classes in classical ballet. Here are some reasons why every dancer, regardless of their eventual preference, should start their study with ballet classes.
1. Ballet has a rich history.
The history of ballet is, in many ways, the history of dance. Most ballet classes include at least some minor study or mention of the history of ballet, which is not something you typically get in other dance styles. You may learn about the origins of ballet in Italy in the 15th century or how the first theatrical ballet was founded in Paris in the late 17th century. Many of the musical pieces these early ballet dancers performed to are still used in ballets around the world. Learning to dance them, as you learn about ballet history, can help you feel connected with the culture and history of dance. Long-term, this will help keep your interest in the art of dance high, even as you move into different dance styles.
2. Ballet moves are the basis of moves in other dance styles.
Ballet is a rather regimented form of dance. There are 7 positions you learn from the very beginning. For example, first position has you stand with your heels together and your toes out. Second position has you stand with your feet pointing in opposite directions and spread about a foot apart. Once you have these basic positions down, you can transfer them to other dance styles. For instance, in modern dance, you can create your own moves beginning from first, second, or third position. Knowing which position you are starting in will make it easier to communicate your moves with other dancers, who will hopefully share your ballet knowledge.
3. Ballet helps improve your memory.
Memorizing dance sequences is one of the biggest challenges of learning to dance, and it's one that few people talk about. Memorizing is, however, a bit easier in ballet since there are signature positions and moves to play off of. If you hone your dance memory in ballet, it will serve you well as you move into other dance styles.
4. Ballet emphasizes fitness.
While all types of dance are good for improving your fitness, ballet has a unique tie to fitness. Most classes start with certain exercises to limber up the body, build the core, and strengthen muscles that are weak. Although some dance instructors in other disciplines might begin their classes this way, it's not nearly as pervasive in other disciplines as in ballet.
5. Ballet teaches you coordination.
Ballet moves are not easy. You'll have to learn to stand on your toes, spin on one foot, plié, and so forth. However, learning these moves and putting them all together into sequence builds a more inherent sense of coordination. Most classes incorporate exercises that are specifically intended to make you more aware of where your arms and legs are in relation to your core. The other dance styles you pursue may require different moves, but the coordination you have from ballet will make them easier to pick up.
If you love jazz, tap, modern dance, or swing, you can definitely pursue classes in that discipline. But with a few months of ballet classes behind you, you'll have a much easier time.