Ballet is more than just a classical art form. It’s a way for your kiddo — or you! — to express yourself through music and dance.
It’s true that throughout the years, ballet has been a focus of poor body image. However—times are definitely changing, and taking ballet classes can actually be linked to improving body positivity instead of tearing it down.
Here are our top five ways ballet classes can help improve a dancer’s mental health and body image.
Dance Releases Happy Hormones
Ballet, along with any style of dance, releases oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – or “happy hormones.” When you move your body to music, an amazing chemical reaction happens inside your brain and releases this happiness cocktail. At the same time, cortisol (or what many of us call the “evil stress hormone”) levels decrease. This is why physical movement of any kind is linked to lower levels of bad stress and anxiety. And haven’t you proven to yourself that when you feel happier all around, you feel more confident in yourself? Bring on the ballet classes and all the happy hormones that come with them!
Ballet Brings Together Community
During a ballet class, you’ll find yourself focused on mastering ports de bras or a new grand allegro, allowing you to momentarily escape from the stresses of everyday life. And while it may feel at times like you’re dancing solo, most of your ballet classes have other dancers enrolled who are learning the same repertoire.
Like many art forms, ballet carries with it a full-on culture and attracts like-minded individuals and a community. If you or your kiddo have friends who want to take a ballet class together—amazing! But don’t worry if this doesn’t sound like your child or you; taking ballet classes with new faces provides a social aspect like no other. When we surround ourselves with like-minded people—and new friends!—we not only gain confidence in ourselves but also build each other up in the community.
Ballet Classes Provide a Platform to Learn Something New
The first thing any seasoned ballet dancer will tell you is this: Ballet isn’t easy. It takes years of training to make the most complex petit allegro look effortless in the studio or on stage. In fact, ballet is not just an art form, but a sport … and sometimes a high-risk sport at that.
But with high risk and hard work comes great reward! Our adult dance students (some new to ballet, some returned to the barre from years away) have reflected on what they’ve gained from taking ballet classes:
“I’m not in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, but I’m in the best dance shape I’ve ever been in, and that’s enough for me. I think a lot of this comes from wanting and yearning to just learn more than I did as a kid. And the fact that I’ve grown and birthed a baby, AND can still jump higher and farther than I ever did as a teen, gives me so much freaking confidence in myself and my abilities as a dancer.”
– Kelly Cackin, OSMD adult student – dancer since 1993
Dance Lessons Connect the Brain & Body
We mentioned the phrase “ports de bras” earlier in this post. In ballet, ports de bras translate to “carriage of the arms,” and it’s a beginner theme ballet dancers learn early on. Quite literally, the ports de bras teach a dancer to connect their brain and their body as one. Sounds kind of silly, since the head and shoulders are always connected—BUT haven’t you found it easier to be clumsy than graceful? This connection may not be as easy as it sounds.
Through ports de bras and other similar ballet exercises, your mind and body become one seamless instrument. To master the carriage of the arms, a dancer must intentionally—and fluidly—move from one position to the other through the entire sequence. Some ports de bras are stationary while others involve tendus or other feet/leg movement. So to master ports de bras and similar sequences, the dancer must become extremely in tune with their body (AKA be aware at all times of what body part is doing what movement at which time).
We’ll repeat what we said earlier: Ballet isn’t easy. Mastering port de bras aren’t just about perfecting the sequence; it’s about understanding what body parts are engaged at which time and when to move other body parts to the next phrase. This mind-body connection allows a dancer to fully understand their body, and with that knowledge comes great responsibility to treat your body right.
Ballet Gives You a Safe Space to Be Yourself
We fully believe that ballet classes—among all other music and dance art forms—offer a dancer a safe space to be unequivocally themselves. Dancers come in all shapes, sizes, races, ages, and genders—and each and every one of you are beautiful artists and athletes.
“Dancers start noticing their body younger than you might think. At OSMD, we have students and teachers of all body shapes and sizes. We encourage students to eat healthy to build strong muscles—never to lose weight or change the shape of their body. We hope dancers see people of all shapes on stage and always see themselves in the professional dance narrative. All bodies are dance bodies.”
– Amanda Loomis, OSMD Dance Department Head
Where Can I Take Ballet Lessons Near Me?
Only at Omaha School of Music & Dance will you and/or your child learn from a full-time, university-taught ballet teacher who lives and breathes ballet. Their passion for dance is clear, and it transfers to their students. Each week, your ballet instructor will review what was worked on the previous week and move on to the next lesson to keep you learning and progressing.
Interested in group or private ballet lessons at Omaha School of Music & Dance? Here’s how you can register: