There’s more to dance than just twirling, leaping and shaking your groove “thang.” When you find the right type of dance for your child, dance classes can have tons of benefits that you definitely want your child to reap. So, apart from a daily dose of exercise, what are the benefits of dance? More than you might think. Metro Parent chatted with local mom, dance instructor and founder of Synergy Dance Academy in Plymouth, Lynne Taylor-Kilgore, to find out what benefits dance classes can have for kids – and when they should start to get the most out of their lessons.
In addition to getting weekly, or even daily cardiovascular and strength-training exercises, dance students tend to have great posture and coordination. “Everyone can tell if someone is a dancer, and I think it’s the way that they hold themselves and walk,” Taylor-Kilgore says. At Synergy, she asks her students to check themselves in school or church to see if they are slumped over and, she says, most of her students do that. “It’s your physical wherewithal, the way you carry yourself and your eye contact,” she says. “(People) can tell you take care of yourself.”
In addition to giving kids the appearance of confidence, dance classes for kids offer a really good way to help them gain confidence, too. “Whether you’re a recreational dancer or a competitive dancer, you always have to set goals,” Taylor-Kilgore says. Once you master your first goal, the instructor is going to push you with another challenge and when that one is met they will give you another challenge, she explains. “It carries over into other areas of life.”
As an art form, dance helps kids with their emotions – channeling an emotion, whether negative or positive into something beautiful. “Dance and a creative outlet go hand in hand,” Taylor-Kilgore says. “(To) inspire a child to listen to a piece of music and tell them to communicate that with their body, is a tall order but they get it.” Studios, like Synergy, that offer improv classes – where kids can perform their own moves without fear of being wrong or told no – can be especially beneficial. “I’ve seen kids blossom from an improv class,” Taylor-Kilgore says. “They bust out these moves that are in their head or heart, it’s like ‘wow, this is what is inside of this kid.’ You get to see the emotion that is in their head that day.”
Dance studios tend to be full of different people of all different ages and dancing stages, because of this, Taylor-Kilgore finds that dance students tend to develop strong communication and social skills. “When you have a studio, you have a melting pot,” she says. “These kids are not just from the same neighborhood, and they aren’t kids that see each other in school. They have to work on getting along with kids that are different from them.” Compromise and communication come into play here.
In addition, she finds that students that work their way up to her competitive team tend to develop strong bonds with one another. “Our competitive team is like a family,” Taylor-Kilgore says. “They have each other’s backs.”
Bonuses for boys
That’s right: Boys can take dance classes, too, and it’s even a bit more masculine than you might think. In fact, Synergy closed out last year with about 15 percent of their students being boys, and Taylor-Kilgore’s own 24-year-old son danced and played hockey when he was younger. “It does promote flexibility, which is good for growth, and keeps them strong and lean for other activities,” she says. If parents still aren’t sure of dance classes for their sons, some dance studios offer an open-door policy where moms and dads can come in and see just how their son could benefit from dance.
Choosing your classes
Kids can enroll at Synergy Dance Academy at as young as 18 months, as long as there is an adult willing to help them in class. For the most part, students start out at around 3 years old and work up from there. For Taylor-Kilgore, ensuring kids are placed in classes in which they will excel is of upmost importance.