It goes without saying that parents want what is best for their children. Day in an day out, parents sacrifice for their children's futures and work hard to ensure the path ahead is filled with opportunities that their children have been fully prepared to realize. We encourage our children to excel at academics, to participate in athletics and other extra curricular activities. However, if a parent neglects to consider ballet for their children, they may be missing out on these three critical benefits that ballet offers:
1. Ballet Instills Discipline
The mental focus and practical dedication to training is apparent when a great dancer takes the stage. The few minutes that we get to experience the story they are sharing while up there is so very insignificant compared to the weeks, months, and even years it takes to get to that sublime expression of emotion through movement. Like most things that matter in life, ballet takes work. Commitment is a character trait instilled in children exposed to ballet training.
Ballet is rooted in tradition. It incorporates discipline through commitment to a strict etiquette. Even young children in ballet are exposed, and required to adhere, to a specific curriculum which guides them toward good behaviors and focused control of their bodies.
It begins with a respect of themselves, their classmates, and their instructor. Each student wears required ballet attire. They have their hair tied back if it is long enough to do so. They learn to listen quietly while the instructor provides direction and make necessary corrections to improve their performance. Students become more attentive and focused with each class. This learned self-discipline carries with them throughout their lives.
2. Ballet Improves Brain Function
Why, as animals, do we have a brain? Is it so that we survive? Well, plants survive and they do not have a brain. Is it so that we may survive longer? Well, there are certain trees that outlive us by far.
Neuroscience educator, Robert Sylwester, shares that "mobility is central to everything that is cognitive, whether it is physical motion or the mental movement of information." Further, he explains that "plants have to endure whatever comes along, including predators eating them. Animals, on the other hand, can travel to seek food, shelter, mates, and to move away from unfavorable conditions. Since we can move, we need a cognitive system that can comprehend sensory input and intelligently make choices." Movement and brain function are deeply interrelated.
Many experts agree that the coordination and strength that result from participation in structured dance training are also complimented by improvements in brain function. Whether its improvement in focus, recall, or long term memory, ballet can be seen to have a measurable impact on lifetime cognitive improvement.
3. Ballet Creates Excellent Storytellers
There's a material difference between reading a story and telling a story. The former is a relatively passive exercise. Reading is undoubtably valuable to the development of child's imagination and cognitive skills, not to mention a defining factor in the expansion of a child's vocabulary. It is absolutely an essential component to robust educational development. However, think about the major differences between reading and telling.
A child telling a story, as opposed to simply passively consuming it, is in the driver's seat. That child controls the tenor and cadence. The storytelling child moves her listeners through the emotional landscape created by protagonists and antagonists, by plot and setting. She leads her audience on a journey of feeling and inspiration.
Ballet takes the art of storytelling to new heights, and not just in the metaphorical sense when one considers the aerial acrobatics often involved in a performance. Dance offers a brand new medium of storytelling without words. Why is this so important to future success?
Several studies on communication conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, found that 93% of all daily communication in nonverbal. While there may be some debate among the scientific community as to how accurate 93% is for communication occurring across all social circles and topics, the overwhelming majority of experts agree that mastery of nonverbal communication skills is highly correlated, if not causally related, to one's success. Unfortunately, non-verbal communication is not a traditional subject formally taught in our schools. Enter ballet.