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  Life   More Features  24 Jan 2017  The magic of Latin and Ballroom dance

The magic of Latin and Ballroom dance

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANDIP SOPARRKAR
Published : Jan 24, 2017, 2:38 am IST
Updated : Jan 24, 2017, 6:36 am IST

Ballroom dances are one art form that anyone at any age and fitness level can learn, enjoy and get the benefits from.

Sandeep Soparrkar with Alesia Raut. (Photo: Taher Basrai)
 Sandeep Soparrkar with Alesia Raut. (Photo: Taher Basrai)

Since the earliest recorded history we have known dance either in  celebration or in worship. It is more than just a pastime — it is the  essence of who we are and what our true nature represents. Dance is the strongest feeling from deep within. In a sense, you could say it is born into our souls. The desire to dance well is inside us all and it is usually a  person’s journey from emotion to motion. Dancing is not a reflection of life but is a basic human expression of life itself. It is an expression, which is inextricably connected to the finer nuances of life.

Ballroom dancing is the most artistic of social pastimes and most social of artistic pastimes. In all countries and societies, dancing forms an integral part of the lifestyle. While the initial motivation to dance is often a social one, once past that hurdle of actually learning to dance, many find the music, the atmosphere and the dance, as an opportunity to take on a new persona. In an instant, the dancer can be mentally and emotionally transported to almost any scenario of their choice: an elegant gala ball in Vienna, a fun-filled dance party on the Caribbean islands, a bull fight in Valencia or even to a back street bar in Buenos Aires. Yes, dance indeed has that element of make-belief and imagination linked so strongly to it.

The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) and The Ballroom Dancing Association (BDA), both world famous organisations known for setting rules and regulations for various styles of dances, has divided ballroom dancing into two major categories, namely Standard and Latin American ballroom dance.

Under the Standard category we have the graceful Waltz and Viennese Waltz, romantic Foxtrot, energetic quickstep and the passionate yet angry Tango. Under the Latin American category we have the sensuous Rumba, the cheeky Cha Cha, fun-filled Jive, festive Samba and Paso Doble, a fight on the dance floor.

Whatever may be one’s musical taste or individual preferences, the variety of ballroom dances ensures that there is always something for everyone at any point of time. In romance and matters of the heart, ballroom dancing is a wonderful way of expressing your emotions. Express your love through the Rumba or the Waltz, tease your beloved with the naughty Cha Cha, show your annoyance with the Tango and if you want to fight it out, there is nothing better than a Paso Doble. That is why it is said that ballroom is one style of dance where one has “a dance for every mood”, so one should never complain that he is not in a mood to dance.

Usually our moods also vary in a single day depending on the state of mind, environment, atmosphere and the company we are in. Dancing to great music with electrifying rhythm and tempo can change one’s frame of mind and transform our mood a great extent too.

Ballroom dances are one art form that anyone at any age and fitness level can learn, enjoy and get the benefits from. The only thing one needs is a strong urge and regular practice. Both the young/old, healthy/weak are fond of music, if taken seriously it can give a young person as much physical exercise as they desire. Fast ballroom dances like Jive, Paso Doble, Samba, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz are as good or even better than going for a regular aerobic session. Records prove that a ballroom dance class can burn up to 600-800 calories in an hour. For middle-aged or busy working individuals dances like Cha Cha, Waltz and Tango can provide exercise that is effective without being too strenuous, and act like a stress-buster and loosen them up.

For people with health problems like high blood pressure, diabetics, knee/back pain or in some cases even heart problems, dances like Rumba and Foxtrot can act as natural healers. These dances are just simple, rhythmic, graceful walking that helps them stay healthy, relaxed and calm.

Practicing regular ballroom dancing definitely helps improve social life. It inculcates the aura of grace, poise, elegance and sense of balance in the body, improving one’s body posture. In fact, the medical profession also recommends ballroom dancing to people with bad body postures, so as to improve one’s stance and spinal cord positioning. An individual with a royal gait is undoubtedly magnetic and attracts attention at any social gathering. The adulation and appreciation develops a special feeling, which enhances the personality and makes the person a self-confident individual. Going out for dances with like-minded people transforms individuals from being inhibited and introverted to outgoing, self-confident human beings who are completely rejuvenated and refreshed.

Many dance schools and studios along with dance also teach dance floor etiquette, social graces and manners, which helps in an all-round development of one’s personality. Ballroom dancing is also a great way to learn the social niceties, which are so important to moving around in polite society. All 10 styles of ballroom dances come from different parts of the world. They have interesting cultures, lifestyles and stories to narrate, thereby helping people make knowledgeable interactions with each other, especially when one travels abroad.

With the International Standard and Latin American Ballroom Dance competitions now a part of the Olympic Games, these styles are all set to inspire and reach an even wider audience and attain even greater popularity not only through competition dancing but also through local dance schools, events and parties. Therefore, it’s advisable and recommended by the medical profession that people of all age groups, backgrounds and various job profiles learn to dance, as it is an easy way to stay fit, relax, unwind, make new friends and lose one’s inhibitions. Above all, it’s sheer fun! The sooner one learns to dance, the longer one gets to enjoy it. By learning the correct techniques it will not be too long before you can say in a true sense that “We had a ball of time”.

Sandip Soparrkar is a well-known ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement Award and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on sandipsoparrkar06@gmail.com

Tags: dance, ballroom dance