Shall We Dance?

Yes, if you know what’s good for you

RSWLiving - - Contents - BY ALI­SON ROBERTS-TSE

Al­though par­ents ea­gerly en­roll their chil­dren into dance classes, many never think about dance train­ing for them­selves. Danc­ing grants ex­cel­lent phys­i­cal and men­tal ben­e­fits to peo­ple of all ages. Even if you have two left feet, you can learn new moves at a va­ri­ety of adult dance classes in South­west Florida. Dance can main­tain, or im­prove, phys­i­cal health. This is why the founder of Sani­bel Dance, Deb­bie Sheme, rec­om­mends try­ing a dance class as a new ap­proach to ex­er­cise. The UK’s Na­tional Health Ser­vice is among many health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions that ad­vo­cate reg­u­lar danc­ing for im­prov­ing fit­ness, re­port­ing that it is “great for los­ing weight, main­tain­ing strong bones, im­prov­ing pos­ture and mus­cle strength, in­creas­ing bal­ance and co­or­di­na­tion, and beat­ing stress.”

Stud­ies claim that danc­ing also ben­e­fits men­tal health. The Al­bert Ein­stein Col­lege of Medicine in New York con­cluded that dance can lower par­tic­i­pants’ risk of de­men­tia, un­like other leisure ac­tiv­i­ties such as golf and ten­nis. Kim­berly Kelly Knaub, artis­tic direc­tor of South­west Florida’s Kel­lyn Celtic Arts, ex­plains that learn­ing the steps and pat­terns of dance is good for your mind—and jokes that dance is also good for your “sole.”


Ball­room dance is ex­tremely ac­ces­si­ble. Af­ter all, ball­room new­bies trans­form into con­fi­dent dancers an­nu­ally on Danc­ing with the

Stars. (Based on that tele­vi­sion show’s pop­u­lar­ity, the Sani­bel Com­mu­nity House hosted a char­ity spin-off, “Danc­ing with the Is­land Stars,” for a few years, gen­er­at­ing lo­cal in­ter­est in ball­room danc­ing.) To learn ball­room dance styles, from the se­duc­tive rumba to the glam­orous fox-trot, as­pir­ing dancers can now head to Is­land Ball­room on Sani­bel.

Ball­room be­gin­ners will pick up the pat­terned steps, and once con­fi­dence builds, they can add their own unique flare. The so­cial in­ter­ac­tions dur­ing ball­room part­ner danc­ing are es­pe­cially fun, whether you bring your real-life part­ner or match up with other class mem­bers.


You don’t need to be Michael Flat­ley (of River­dance fame) to be an Ir­ish dancer. Adult dancers, in their mid-20s to 70s, reg­u­larly at­tend Kel­lyn Celtic Arts be­cause of the ca­ma­raderie and the chal­leng­ing fun. Liz H be­gan Ir­ish danc­ing when her daugh­ters en­rolled and par­tic­u­larly en­joys “the dance’s ath­leti­cism [and] the en­ergy of the mu­sic.”

Kel­lyn Celtic Arts fa­cil­i­tates ceili, Ir­ish so­cial group danc­ing. New dancers will ap­pre­ci­ate that the “foot­work is sim­ple and low to the floor, and the mu­sic is toetap­pingly grand,” ac­cord­ing to Knaub, Kel­lyn’s direc­tor. Adults can also com­pete in soft shoes or per­cus­sive hard shoes and per­form at South­west Florida events.


Bal­let-in­spired work­outs con­tin­u­ally crop up, but to reap the most ben­e­fits, why not le arn the essentials of this grace­ful dance? Al­though bal­let dancers make their art form look easy on stage, bal­let re­quires in­cred­i­ble amounts of strength, flex­i­bil­ity and co­or­di­na­tion.

Adult bal­let be­gin­ners will learn the clas­sic dance warm-up at the barre, in­clud­ing pliés and bat­te­ment ten­dus. (Even prima bal­leri­nas con­tinue to per­fect these move­ments through­out their ca­reers.) As stu­dents’ phys­i­cal­ity and bal­ance de­velop, they can ex­tend their legs higher, com­plete com­pli­cated jumps and per­form trav­el­ing steps away from the barre. For bal­let ba­sics, bour­rée to Gulf­shore Bal­let in Fort My­ers.


Dancer and mom Deb­bie Sheme opened Sani­bel Dance in 2013 for chil­dren but also of­fers con­tem­po­rary dance to adults. This style of dance draws heav­ily from clas­si­cal bal­let and mod­ern dance. Al­though con­tem­po­rary dance can be very pre­cise in terms of body me­chan­ics, it can also be in­cred­i­bly ex­pres­sive.

Weekly classes in con­tem­po­rary dance at­tract stu­dents of all lev­els and ages—from the moms of younger dance stu­dents to older re­tirees. The class won an award for the Best Fit­ness & Well­ness So­lu­tion in Lee County at the Al­ter­na­tive Medicine & Holis­tic Health Awards 2018. Sani­bel Dance fo­cuses on health and fit­ness, of­fer­ing classes in Pi­lates and yoga, as well as dance.


Ex­er­cise en­thu­si­asts who most en­joy the reg­gae­ton songs and funky street-style rou­tines in their Zumba fit­ness classes will feel at home in an open-level hiphop class. Male and fe­male stu­dents, col­lege age and up, gather at the Dance Ware­house in Fort My­ers weekly to learn en­er­getic rou­tines. Artis­tic direc­tor Ch­eryl L. Sing­ton en­cour­ages any­one who en­joys mu­sic and mov­ing to par­tic­i­pate—with or with­out pre­vi­ous dance ex­pe­ri­ence. The small classes at the Dance Ware­house range from 30 min­utes to two hours, so new dancers can start with shorter ses­sions. Sing­ton firmly be­lieves that dance fa­cil­i­tates “mus­cle mem­ory, fun, neu­ro­log­i­cal im­prove­ment, fun, over­all health and [more] fun.” What­ever your age and which­ever style strikes your fancy, turn up the mu­sic and get mov­ing. Ali­son Roberts-Tse has been hap­haz­ardly scrib­bling in jour­nals since she was a small-town small fry. She has de­grees in com­mu­ni­ca­tions and dance from the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin, Madi­son. She now lives in Lon­don, spends time on Sani­bel and ob­ses­sively plans get­aways, both near and far.

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