Teachers, don’t underestimate your influence! We knew it, but now science confirms it: dance can make a real, measurable difference in young girls’ health, particularly when it comes to their emotional wellbeing.
In a recent study, 112 girls aged 13 to 18 who had visited their school nurse with psychosomatic aches and pains and tiredness took 8 months of dance classes. Those taking dance classes reported significantly reduced stress and psychosomatic symptoms, contributing to self-reported physical health improvements of up to 62%. What's more, over 90% of the participants rated dance class an a positive experience.
Researchers credit dance class for the improvements, theorizing it could be the benefits of escaping the demands and pressures of school, or the feeling of involvement and worth that comes from contributing to choreography and music choices or even simply the social benefits of being with other dancers in class. We have a feeling it’s all of the above.
Photo: American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School principal Franco De Vita working with a student, by Rosalie O'Connor
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This Sunday, master ballet teacher Finis Jhung turns 80. After a career as a soloist for both San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey and a principal for Harkness Ballet, Jhung carved out a unique place for himself as a ballet teacher in New York City. He's coached the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical, developed a popular video and DVD how-to series and STILL teaches seven classes a week at the Ailey Extension. He's graced the pages of this magazine to offer his time-honored wisdom again and again, and he's currently working on a memoir. (We can't wait to read it.) Happy birthday, Finis!
Since 1989, tap dancers have been celebrating National Tap Dance Day (NTDD) on and around May 25, the birthday of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This year, prime events are happening in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
When you think of a major basketball team's dancers or cheerleaders, you probably picture the Laker Girls—scantily clad, with shiny curls cascading down their backs. You definitely don't picture a group of 15 40-years-old-and-up "seniors," mean-mugging and ripping off breakaway pants. But the New York Liberty's Timeless Torches do exactly that, and they routinely bring down the house during halftime at the WNBA games where they perform.
The exhibit Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972 is filled with exhibits, performances and conferences honoring the three postmodern dance living legends.