What does Meghan’s new patronage mean for The National Theatre?

Meghan Markle

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term “patronage”, a royal patronage can be useful in helping to promote and strengthen the image of great causes.

Kensington suggested that the four organisations – the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, The Mayhew and Smart Works, which had been selected for Meghan to be a patron of, had been chosen as “causes and issues with which [Meghan] has long been associated”.

If you’re following Kensington Palace on Instagram, then it’s likely that you’ve already seen that, so far, Meghan Markle’s use of her new responsibilities are well under-way. And she’s probably having the time of her life, since the selected charities depict the Duchess’ passion for access to education, support for women, animal welfare and the arts.

Her enthusiastic embrace of her new role is hardly surprising, considering her background in the non-profit sector. Since the beginning of January, Meghan has become proactive in getting involved in community discussions, with long-term unemployed and vulnerable women, which forms an integral approach of Smart Works Charity.

And, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited for how she’s planning on using her new influence in the arts, The National Theatre (NT).

With a background in not only the arts, as an actress and blogger, but as a campaigner, prior to marrying Prince Harry in May 2018, it’s quite possible that The National Theatre may be getting a few things switched-up. Already having developed some great goals, including aiming to create a world-class theatre for everyone, and implementing a learning and participation programme that supports young people’s creativity across the UK, the NT is barking along the lines of equality and inclusiveness that Meghan so loves to see.

But you know, I think we’re going to see these goals being taken to the max, with Meghan on the scene.

By now, most people have heard the story of how, at just 11, Meghan wrote to the US first lady at the time, Hillary Clinton, to make complaints about the sexism being perpetuated in TV advertisements, and successfully got the ads’ transcript changed as a result.

Judging by her past behaviour, then, it doesn’t seem like Meghan will be tolerating any ignorance on the NT landscape.

A “strong believer in using the arts to bring people from different backgrounds and communities together”, according to Kensington Palace, it would seem that Meghan will be harnessing the NT as a tool for strengthening cultural diversity.

With the National Theatre artistic director, Rufus Norris, sharing her aspirations, Meghan’s influence in British theatre may have few limits. As a response to the announcement of Meghan’s patronage, Norris said,

‘The Duchess shares our deeply-held conviction that theatre has the power to bring people together from all communities and walks of life. I very much look forward to working closely with Her Royal Highness in the years to come’.

I think we can expect Meghan to use her increasingly influential platform to, fervently and shrewdly, advocate for inclusiveness and diversity in the arts.

Do any of you have any thoughts about what’s on Meghan’s agenda? Comment below on what changes you’re expecting/hoping Meghan to make in British Theatre!

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How to stay motivated in any circumstances.

Focus

Many of you will know that your motivation levels can, if you let them, fluctuate with the changing circumstances in your life. Maybe the people you’re living with have little aspiration, you’ve had to move back home after living independently at university, and feel like you’re taking a few steps back, or your friends aren’t as supportive as you’d like them to be. It’s so easy for us to look ever closely at our own disadvantages in life, that we begin slipping into the victim mind-set.

But this only takes us on a downward spiral.

With the defeatist mind-set it cultivates, it makes us question: Why even begin if I’m already so far behind?

Hundreds of life coaches, authors and inspirational speakers will have their own tips on how to stay motivated, though, if you could narrow these down to several, here’s the pieces of advice I’m set on absorbing for 2019.

Chunking.

Divide your goal into short stretches and create in-between targets (and rewards!). Giving yourself little incentives along the journey will help you with sustaining your will-power. Possibly one of the greatest personal development coaches and motivational speakers, Tony Robbins, stated that: “A major source of stress in our lives comes from the feeling that we have an impossible number of things to do. If you take on a project and try to do the whole thing all at once, you’re going to be overwhelmed.” Why overload yourself? It’s not efficient. Tackle your mountains one mole-hill at a time.

This, yes you guessed it, is called “chunking”.

Chip away at your project in a series of achievable steps. Have you ever wondered why ticking boxes on our to-do list bring us so much joy? Well, Neuroscience explains that each little victory triggers the reward centre in the brain, flooding it with the feel-good chemical, dopamine. Unsurprisingly, this makes us more inclined to repeatedly focus our attention on set activities. Try this technique perhaps, when working on a passion project, or organising your folders.

Get clear on why you want to reach this goal.

With so many distractions, much busyness and plenty of noise, it can be incredibly difficult to stay focused on a goal. Think about what meaning achieving a certain goal will bring into your life. Will sticking at your passion project enable you to eventually work solely in a sector that you love? Will doing those 100 press-ups every night, no more, no less, help you reach your end goal of feeling healthy and happy? If you have a deeper reason for pursuing a goal, it’s more likely you’ll persevere in seeing it through – even when your motivation levels begin to flag.

Visualization.

See it, smell it, feel it. Some of the greatest athletes and most successful business people swear by this technique. If you can imagine the process, complete with all of it’s nitty-gritty details, the more likely it’ll be that you take the challenges in your stride. The screwed-up concentration face you’ll adopt as you knuckle down to complete a record several job applications in one sitting; the way your breathing will sound as you conquer that hill near your house, or the sensation of sweat dripping from your face as you cross the finish line. If you can envision yourself going through a trial – avoiding the knocks and blows – you’re more likely to make it a reality.

So, dreamers, keep dreaming.

Have a plan, but be open to adaptation.

So what if your strategy doesn’t seem to be working straight away? Maybe there’s a few little tweaks you can make on it to make it more efficient, more effective. If you can sense that your plan isn’t working out quite the way you hoped it would, don’t throw in the towel. It’s all about trial and error. As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

Take a look at the grand scheme of things.

Why should you keep doing what you’re doing? Let’s take a moment to absorb the words of the renowned Jew, Mr Rabbi Hillel: “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” You’ll find it tougher to slacken up the treadmill, when you recognise that you’ll only have to put in more work further down the line, if you want to be effective, that is.

Figure out how you’re going to cope with flagging motivation.

Accept it. At some point down the line you’re going to get fed-up, tired or plain bored of pursuing that goal of yours. You’ll need to get your spirits lifted somehow. One way you can do this is by thinking of all those that have had to endure so much more than you to reach their target. Take the suffragettes, the people in Auschwitz, or African-Americans before the banning of slavery. God forbid, you ever go through suffering as profound. Nevertheless, it might be worth glancing back as these experiences to put your journey into perspective. Step away from self-pity. Realising that your struggles are not as bad as you may think, will help you keep moving forward with an extra spring in your step.

Don’t be afraid of seeking support.

It’s a powerful thing, announcing your plans to the world. It’s the reason why people get married in the public-eye. The inherent value that resides in sharing your plan, resides in the fact that openly expressing your intentions can help you to stay accountable to the goal you set for yourself. Though make sure you’re ultra-picky about who you share this with. You’ll need a crowd that you know will cheer you on when your voice begins to waver, not drag you down.

Keep reminding yourself of all the reasons for carrying on.

Steve Jobs, the American business magnate and interviewer, encapsulates this excellently. On one occasion he expressed to an interviewer: “I think most people that are able to make a sustained contribution over time — rather than just a peak — are very internally driven. You have to be. Because, in the ebb and tide of people’s opinions and of fads, there are going to be times when you are criticised, and criticism’s very difficult. And so when you’re criticised, you learn to pull back a little and listen to your own drummer. And to some extent, that isolates you from the praise, if you eventually get it, too. The praise becomes a little less important to you and the criticism becomes a little less important to you, in the same measure. And you become more internally driven.”

Anyone disagree with these as being top tips? What are your top tricks for staying motivated? Feel free to comment below!

Becoming captivated by Michelle Obama

 

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Ever read a biography and felt as though you were reading your own words? Or maybe, talking to your best friend? I definitely felt like I had that experience when reading Michelle Obama’s latest book, Becoming. There’s so many moments in her recollections that strike a nerve. So many comments that aptly tap into the way I, and, I’m sure, many others among you, view the world. Perhaps one of my favourite recurring themes throughout the book, is her continual desire to grow herself, to push her limits, to keep getting better.

Self-Growth

Making revelations about he growth mind-set from her youth to date, in ‘Becoming Me’, Michelle poignantly questions her own past perceptions that she would, quite finitely, become a lawyer after her Ivy League education.

As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you becoming something and then that’s the end.”

It’s common knowledge that Michelle had practised as a lawyer in her early adult life. Only that now she has disclosed her true perceptions towards the esteemed profession. Her determination to move forward in the world, to be held, socially, in high regard, maintained her loyalty to a career that she was beginning to resent for it’s indirect approach to instigating mass change.

This, most certainly, comes as a breath of fresh air, to individuals tired of hearing idealisations of institutional, by-the-book success.

Her message rings clear. The established path, the traditional routes to success, will not necessarily lead to personal fulfilment. An important reminder for us all.
Of course, leaving behind her piled desk at the law firm, Michelle went on to pursue a career in community work and politics.

It’s helped me, and it should help you, take away the sense that, whilst a certain path might appear attractively clear-cut, there’s no guarantee that it will lead you to the ideal destination. Life, so to speak, is a journey wherein, sometimes, you have to venture down a path just to know that it’s the wrong way.

Friendships and early influences.

I found myself inwardly smiling at the description of Michelle’s best friend in College, Suzanne. A track runner and avid dance class attendee, Suzanne, according to Michelle, was the kind of girl that based the majority of her decisions on how fun they were likely to be, and swiftly changed direction when they “messed with her joy“. This is something that I have tended, and still tend to do.

Barack’s apparent contradictory nature, “serious without being self-serious” and “breezy in his manner but powerful in his mind“, brought to mind certain fond friends of mine that have this lethal trait combination. A laid-back manner and steely focus. Demonstrative of her genuine character, is Michelle’s exposure of her cravings for authenticity in her friendships. It’s a terrible feeling, suspecting that someone in your inner circle is only there to gain something, rather than out of genuine affection for you.

Michelle touches on this issue of fake friends that were beginning to plague her life as first lady. Down-to-earth, “thirsty” is the word she and Barack uses to describe the people blatantly attempting to claw their way into her inner circle as an effort to boost their own status.

Growing real friendships, it would seem, and by Michelle’s standards, resides in identifying those that truly care about you and holding them close.

Barack

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In ‘Becoming Us’, the picture Michelle paints of Barack unearths the deep-seated respect underpinning their relationship. Barack is illustrated as having always been aspirational, envisioning the world as what it could become, what it should be. One story she reminisces of Barack near-preaching to a group of elderly women, raising spirits and instilling hope, in the basement of a church is intimate and heart-warming. A recollection that disintegrates the stereo-typically distant, impersonal image of a politician on a far off platform, to an accessible, close-to-home, community spirit.

A man that never aspired to fame, or to fortune, but, rather, just wanted to make a difference. Sounds almost like a fantasy, right?

Depth of character and honesty, qualities that Michelle admires in Barack, are juxtaposed with the shallow qualities that some of her friends looked for in a partner. Assets like financial prospects and looks being placed higher on the scale than intangible wholesomeness.

Money never drove us, yet look where we are, Michelle seems to be whispering.

Education

Before reading her biography, I never really knew too much about the initiatives Michelle introduced whilst in the White house. I was surprised to learn that Arts & Culture is something that she wanted to give more ground in education.
In the UK at least, for as long as I can remember, creative subjects including music, art, dance and drama have always been overshadowed by the academic subjects.

Of course, the incredible value of academia cannot be denied. The intellectual skills that academia cultivates will always be essential for the functioning of society. Nevertheless, it’s an unhealthy approach to place it entirely in the spotlight and leave the arts to cower in the shadows. The cultural enrichment that the arts has to offer should not be overlooked.

Remarking on how she’d been raised on Jazz, piano recitals, Operatta Workshops and museum trips, she expresses the importance of arts and culture in developing children:

it’s not a luxury but a necessity to their overall educational experience.

I relished the sight of high schoolers mingling with contemporary artists like John Legend, Justin Timberlake, and Alison Krauss as well as legends like Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle.

Honesty

Finally, other than Michelle’s perpetual praise of optimism, ambition and growth throughout the entirety of this book, what really hooked me from the very first page was Michelle’s commitment to integrity. How can anyone not admire someone with an innate purpose of telling “the truth“, using their voice to “lift up the voiceless” when they can and not disappear “on people in need“?

For a long time, I’m sure, these closing words in her story will resonate with me,

There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

They’ve given me a sense of empowerment. To be unafraid in taking ownership of even the grittier, imperfect fragments of my life. Indeed, every life can be used to inspire and raise up others.

Is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker an anti-feminist ballet?

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Most of us are familiar with the story. But here’s a quick break down for those of you that aren’t.

Young Clara’s family host a grand Christmas party in which she becomes entranced by her mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer’s gift, a beautiful, wooden Nutcracker doll. Later that night, Clara is surprised to see the Nutcracker doll leading the soldiers into battle and battle-ing it out with a seven-headed Mouse King. In perhaps what might be interpreted as a fleeting feminist touch, Clara, having agency, leaps to the Nutcracker’s defence, clouting the Mouse King on the head with her shoe.

But suddenly, Clara finds herself under the influence of the Nutcracker – turned – handsome young-man that calls himself Hans Peter. Whisked away by her newfound lover to the Kingdom of Sweets, she perches at the side of the stage for what seems like the majority of the production, taking in every pretty spectacles that unfolds.

Other than her clear mesmerization with her man, and obvious awe at her surroundings, there seems to be little dimension to Clara’s character.

Though, if the principle character’s role did have more dimension, more layers, perhaps this would detract from the production’s light-hearted, festive spirit? Whatever Ivan Vsevolozhsky, Marius Petipa and E. T. A Hoffman were thinking, surely it’s not just me that thinks that the ending is a bit of a flop? As the night wears on, Clara drifts back to bed and, cliché, wakes up on Christmas morning, wondering if it was all a dream…

If it’s not bad enough that the principal dancer’s character has not been sculpted with much intricacy, in Act Two, the curtain is raised up on a small section of the stage. In the particular production I saw, standing face-to-face were four little girls and four little boys, with the Sugar Plum Fairy in the centre. While the girls, around six to eight years old, creep across the stage in painfully restricted steps on pointe, the boys take leaps and bounds that juxtapose the girls’ limited movements. The symbolism is hardly subtle, and could be an upsetting sight for anyone that renders themselves a feminist.

A somewhat unwelcome, dated, infused idealism, it forms an unpleasant introduction to the rest of the ballet. Particularly to the “Arabian” dancers.

There’s so many issues with Tchaikovsky. His composition took place at a time when othering, when exoticisation, didn’t cause anyone to bat an eyelid. But with so many people in the 21st century currently “woke” to the reality of racism that undercuts all of this, you would think that choreographer’s would demonstrate awareness towards the cultural sensitivity of the second act. But nope, it’s quite a shame that the Vienna Festival Ballet’s Artistic Director, Peter Malleck, hasn’t quite tapped into this. Arab women have both their cultures and sexuality’s delineated on so many levels.

These “Arabian” women wear veils in their hair, which do little to cover their faces, and appear scantily-clad in their figure-hugging tank tunics and loose trousers. The audience’s attention is repeatedly drawn to the women’s bare-stomach, when an equally as bare-chested man carries her slowly across the stage above his head, as she slides silk cloths across her body. Degrading, in it’s sexualization of everything “Eastern”, no?

There’s blatant problems with the production as it stands, and so many areas wherein positive adaptation could take place. Yet there are still so many things that redeem it. Clara’s courageous loyalty in the beginning, her passionate and adoring energy throughout. The intentional surreality of it all. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Nevertheless, it’s about time producers dusted off the stage instructions and switched things up.

Gentleness as strength: 3 ways to be highly effective.

 

Gentleness

There is very little strength in the person that swiftly loses their cool when faced with a difficult situation and turns to brashness in their actions, tone and spirit. In spite of how it might appear, this is actually a display of someone with little self-control and, therefore, someone really quite weak.

Gentle-natured individuals are not to be overlooked or undermined, but, rather, revered.

They tend to be consistent in character, dependable, and sensitive towards the feelings of others. Maintaining a peaceful aura, even amidst chaotic social settings, gentle people draw others to them like flies. Their calm temperament enables them to stay level-headed and remain a positive influence for everyone they interact with.

Do you aspire to develop, or strengthen, this personality trait? Whilst gentleness is, to an extent, a genetic trait, or a consequence of the environment you were raised in and the people that raised you; by being conscientious of our attitude, there’s most certainly strides we can take ourselves to help this element of our characters to flourish.

Gentleness, in this growingly brash and temperamental culture, is, paradoxically, what I believe to be a very necessary upheaval. So, here’s how to support this change in attitude, and help create this change we need to see in the world.

  1. Linger in that moment between Trigger and Response.

Gentle souls aren’t quick to act. They’re far too conscientious for that. Instead of behaving impulsively, retorting angrily or doing something in spite, for instance, they’ll take a pause for thought, to contemplate the consequences of their actions or words. In order to wholly embrace this integral characteristic, here’s a couple behaviours you need to say goodbye to.

  • Letting your sudden emotions drive your actions.
  • Not exercising mental-resilience – letting yourself give in to unhealthy desires.

Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People backs me up in this.

  1. Love whole-heartedly.

In a cold and ruthless world, it can be oh-so easy to, metaphorically, bring out our hedgehog prickles to stop anyone and anything hurting us. We put up this icy, protective mask that, ironically, pushes away others in a way that we wouldn’t want to be pushed away ourselves. It’s a toxic cycle, though of course, sometimes past disappointments, failures and relationships will naturally leave us in a state in which we are afraid of investing more emotional, and physical energy, into something that may or may not work out. Nevertheless, indeed, with gentle being synonymous with kind, a gentle person will acknowledge this risk, and yet gracefully persevere in loving anyway. Without investing oneself in life, you can’t expect to bring your dreams and hopes to fruition.

  1. Listen to your gut.

Here it needs to be clarified. There’s a huge difference between being led by your emotions and simply considering the way you feel about a situation. The first expression is a negative one in that it suggests that to be dictated to by your feelings is to be out of control. To be somewhat irrational. Acknowledging and listening to your gut feeling about a situation can actually be a very sensible idea. A gentle spirit, sincerely and honestly, recognises their emotions as truth, and does not try to smother them beneath a steely guise. If you feel hurt then you feel hurt. Contrary to popular belief, that following your heart is a risky game to play, it’s a positive sign of emotional-intelligence that will, in a lot of instances, lead to an outcome which is better aligned with who you are. Your true calling.

How to become a better dancer without going to classes.

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Ever since being in my early adolescence, I’ve always envied the glossy magazine images of girls in their branded dance attire attending the very top city dance schools and studios. I was, and still am, convinced that, unless I frequented, or frequent, institutions like Pineapple dance studios, the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), or City Academy, I was never going to reach my full potential. To an extent this is pretty accurate. With the dance coaching that you’ll be sure to receive in these top studios being unrivalled, the country’s crème de la crème, there’s no doubt that regular sessions would polish your technique to a tee.

And yet, who is to say that you can’t get access to a similar level of expert training, of guidance, from the very screen that I’m, that you’re, gazing at right now? Ever since I’ve came home from university, I’ve contemplated going back to the dance school that I grew up in. I’m not entirely bothered by the idea of training alongside 16-year-olds at the age of 22. I love the feeling of community that dance classes always seem to have, moving, expressing, in sync. And yet, it’d be empowering to have the freedom to grow and progress outside the confines of a class of adolescents. I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot of you out there in the same boat. I mean, what happens to the masses of dancers, the 98% of bun-heads, that don’t become professionals? You don’t outgrow happy feet.

As is the walk of many in life, you enter the working world, and turn your back a little on the activities of your childhood that gave you so much joy. All of a sudden, they seem trivial. After slaving at a desk in an office from 9-5, it can feel like a great deal of effort to locate and get to an adult dance class, especially if you live/work in a pretty rural area like myself.

Thankfully, in the age of the internet, we have a fair few options on our hands. No longer do we need to reach for a standard VHS or DVD fitness routine, the choreographic/dance technique content online is limitless. 1MILLION Dance studios is one company that has fixed the vast phenomenon of avid dancers in isolation. It defines itself as bringing forth Dance that felt far too distant for us. Dance culture that seemed reserved for people who were different to us. 1MILLION DANCE STUDIO will transform dance into a wonderful experience that you can enjoy. And so it does. With a vast range of beginner – advanced commercial/hip-hop choreographies to choose from, you’re pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a routine to master. There’s also many other channels that present Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary choreographies, if grooving to R&B really isn’t your thing.

Stuck for stretches? PsycheTruth’s Youtube channel has them covered.

And did I mention the large quantities of blogs that are dishing out free professional dance tips? The City Academy, Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit sites impart a great deal of beneficial dance knowledge, to name just a few.

So, if any fellow dancers out there are disheartened at not being able to spot a decent tap class within close proximity to the office or flat, never fear. You can keep practicing those pirouettes and chasse’s wherever you may be.

Trust me, you’re not alone in it.

Take Karen X. Cheng, the internet dance sensation that took her skill from 0 to 100 over the course of 365 days.

Through dedicating herself to imitating the moves that she saw in expert online dance videos each and every day, she was able to reach unimaginable levels in such an incredibly short stretch of time. It’s such an incredibly cliché phrase, but consistent, focused practice really does make perfect. Arguably, the main challenge that you’ll face, is avoiding becoming disheartened and sustaining motivation.

I remember how, at the age of 14, I committed myself to learning the splits and perfecting my ballet moves and routines over the course of the summer. At the time my parents owned a B&B and so, to have an appropriate studio space, every morning, I would push to the side the chairs and tables in the dining room and discipline myself to follow a dance timetable I’d created for myself each day. First, I would stretch, then I would work on some exercises, and then I’d go over a couple choreography’s or develop new ones. With guests walking past and occasionally peering in, and my siblings’ racket often overpowering the melodies coming from my CD player, there were a fair few factors that could have made me negatively believe that I was never going to improve as much as I wanted.

All of the most successful individuals know the importance of environment in shaping success. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t feel like you have to wait for your situation to change, for you to grow, for you to change.

So there, both literally and figuratively, start where you are.

10 reasons why dancers dance or why you should be dancing

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Why is that we fixate on our appearance, make faces, and change our posture in the kitchen window? Why do we watch performances, and spend the time and money to improve in something that many may deem as trivial? Dance is perhaps one of the purest expressions of joy, love and happiness. It is passion manifested and one of the simplest ways that we, as humans, can learn to live in the moment. It’s an art form that allows us to express that which we cannot possibly put into words. Whether it’s intense love, burning anger or profound sadness. It’s perhaps one of the greatest interpreters of the human heart.

It boosts your self-esteem.

Of course, dancing as confidently as the Strictly professionals is not something that’s going to occur overnight. Nevertheless, whilst making it in the west end may not be on your goals list, just regularly taking a dance class is sufficient for taking your beta-endorphins through the roof. Not only will these heighten your sense of well-being, but will help tone your body and increase your strength and stamina.

It’s an amazing creative outlet.

Thought-processes that deviate from the usual is an integral aspect of creativity. In having to develop imaginative choreography’s that transgress natural bodily movements, indeed, dancing promotes this perfectly. In day-to-day life it can be pretty hard to find occasions to use the creative side of your brain, especially if you spend the majority of your time working in a non-creative field. A form of expression that enables you to develop concepts, ideas and routines, and channel them through movement, dancing is activity wherein you’re freed from the reality of restrictions and deadlines in the typical working world. It grants you a sense of freedom, of spreading your wings, whatever your situation in life.

It exposes you to new cultures.

One of the most beautiful aspects about dancing is its ability to transcend language barriers and communicate with people of all cultures and backgrounds. Taking classes in Salsa, Flamenco, Irish dance and others broaden your cultural horizons. After a few energetic Salsa sessions you may end up befriending some Latinas that introduce you to new foods and ways of socialising, for instance.

It improves your health & fitness.

Don’t settle for sitting at the side-lines and gawking at the talent of professional dancers. Why not get practising yourself and test your own limits? Not only does dance minimize bad cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and muscle tone, it’ll also trim your waistline a couple inches, if you’re looking to lose weight. To demonstrate how dance is not merely fluttering about, here’s a few figures to give you a little perspective. Tap takes 200 – 700 calories an hour, depending on pace, Salsa sizzles out 405 – 480, Swing saps 300 – 550 and Ballroom banishes between 150 and 320. As you dancers out there know, and you non-dancers have yet to learn, dance has a little more substance than tutus and tiaras.

It reduces stress.

Providing a necessary detachment from the career, relationship and financial pressures and difficulties of modern society, dancing a means of venting for dealing with these challenges. Releasing relaxing endorphins into your blood flow, dance contributes to feelings of euphoria. It will get rid of any pent-up tension that you’ve accumulated, especially if your day job involves an extensive amount of stagnant sitting at a desk.

It’s so much fun.

Whether you’re 16, 25, 45 or 80, don’t neglect that inner-child in you that just wants to go and play. What’s not to love about skipping, turning and swaying to an awesome tune, stress-relief aspects and health benefits aside? It’s a win-win situation, not only bettering your social life and body, but will help you to perform in the workplace. Taking fun breaks away from difficult work can result in far greater amounts of productivity and problem-solving skills, according to research.

It allows for self-expression.

Not only does dance help you in becoming sensitive to your inner-most feelings, but it also provides an emotional outlet for the communication of these thoughts. You’ll also discover that improving your ability to express in the dance realm will become transferable into that of everyday life. It’ll eliminate your fear of openness, of showing vulnerability. And so, it’ll work to bring greater depth and authenticity to any relationships or friendships that you’re developing.

It improves learning and memory.

Activating the cognitive centre of the brain and encouraging neural plasticity, dancing and learning dances boosts the plasticity of neurons. It results in healthier and more adaptable neurons and thus, greater cognitive function with age. The older you get, the more vital the maintenance of your memory function becomes. You’d be surprised to know that it’s also one of the few forms of exercise that inhibits the oncoming of dementia.

It makes you brave.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “You only live once” right? How about “Seize the day”? Or “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”? When you realise that making the choice to learn to dance is really quite simple, you’ll become more adventurous and courageous in other areas of your life. To strive for greater happiness.

It allows you to meet new people.

With dancing in sync with other individuals being a social activity at its core, dance is an amazing way to meet new, interesting and friendly people in a fun and dynamic way.