Dancing is another alternative type of exercise in keeping the body healthy. Like any other type of activities or exercises, dancing also exerts energy through a numerous amounts of movement. The meanings by the different movements that are required are the various muscles continuously contracting and releasing. Through the research in the history of dance, styles of dance, and the way each type of dance affect body movement and flexibility will help a person understand more about the human body. The human body consists of many different muscle groups that are useful for movement when a person dances. The types of dance affect the muscles in one’s body because of the flexibility and strengths that would either increase or lessen a dancer’s movement. If the flexibility of a dancer is weak, then it would be more difficult to accomplish a higher technique in dance. For example, through jazz, ballet, and hip-hop, these forms of dance require certain extension of the arms and legs which involves the muscles in the body to be strong and flexible.
When dancing these certain forms of dance, it is crucial to be in control and know what the body is doing. In order to fix wrong movement, a dancer has to focus more on how the body will work. In fixing the bad habits of technique, there are many ways to help improve or better one’s balance, core strength, and flexibility in a dancer. Just standing up straight will help the focus on were the body shifts and if the butt or chest is sticking out do to how she/he adjusts themselves. For example, doing certain exercise for the alignment and balance would start off by standing with the feet parallel from each other on the floor, then slowly bend at the knees being aware of where the body is shifting. From having the knees still bent, raise the heels to where only the balls and toes of the feet are on the floor. After, straighten the knees while the balls and toes of the feet are on the floor, and then bring the heels down. Throughout this process, the dancer needs to be alert of where the body is shifting, the way the body is carried, and just making sure the right technique from head to toe is there. By constantly focusing on each part of the body from head to toe would help awareness to the body. This simple exercise makes a dancer improve the way he/she carries their body in various forms of dance. Once attaining the habit of dancing in proper alignment or posture, it will help a dancer’s awareness when stretching.
The key to stretching is being aware of how a dancer extends his or her arms and legs out. For example, when extending the leg, a dancer needs to use their hamstring muscles to help fully extend from the back of the knee. To be able to point one’s feet, the muscles being used come from the metatarsals (the arch of the feet). These are simple movements or stretches a dancer needs to be aware of because with bad technique, it can show how the person’s body is not fully flexible or extended. It is important to make sure that the focus is on the certain stretch he or she is trying to attain or improve. For example, working to have a perfect leg extension in the air acquires many types of stretches that would increase flexibility and also strengthens the certain muscle being used. In any type or form of dance, flexibility is useful to have as a dancer because that is what gives more range of motion and variety range movements. However, while the dancer is stretching more to work the flexibility, the muscles in the body also need to be used while stretching.
Having the muscles work while focusing on the stretch to increase flexibility, gives a dancer the ability to have more control on holding leg extensions or being able to jump in the air with perfect technique. For example, being tight and stiff would affect the way the muscles relax and contract. The muscles need to be engage when dancing and also when trying to improve holding a type of skill for a while. There are certain muscles that would be used when moving every part of the body. To be able to do basic skills that are already natural to us, which are walking, running, and jumping, the muscles are being use then. This is relevant to dancing because the muscles are being engaged when the leg, arm, torso, hip, and foot are moving. For example, bringing the leg up behind the body to a 90 degree angle, parallel from the floor would need to engage the back muscles, leg muscles, and feet muscles to point. In order to be able to bring the leg higher than 90 degrees, this is where the dancer needs to improve both flexibility and strength. However, muscles need to be engaged while stretching or extending to be able to be flexible. While stretching, if the muscles are not being contracted or use in a way where the body would be able to remember the certain stretch, that certain person would not be able to be strong in their dancing.
Through learning the stretches and techniques of a type of style of dance, you would be able to put your knowledge through any type of dancing curriculum. Since dance is also a form of exercise, it involves rigorous movements and training. A person does not necessarily have to learn the styles of dance, but can just dance for fun or to exercise. For example, Zumba gives all ages from young teens to adulthood what they want and expect to get out of in keeping in shape. Zumba does give health benefits to a person because it does help improve flexibility, strength, endurance, and a sense of well-being. In general, these health benefits can be implemented in other styles of dance because dance is all around body movement.