Shall We Dance? By Irina Momotenko, CERGE-EI PhD Student

Have you ever watched small kids when they hear music?  A big smile appears on their little faces as they move happily and naturally to the music.  We are all born to dance, but somehow as we grow up, become self-conscious about our bodies or our ability to do it well, many of us forget the joy and the fun of dancing.  For me, dance was love at first move. I was 11 when I attended my first dance class and since then I’ve never stopped dancing (well, except for the first two years at CERGE-EI for well-known reasons). With CERGE-EI’s first Graduation Ball on June 1, now is the perfect time to access your perhaps long-forgotten joyous dancing spirit. (Special note to guys:  women adore men who know how handle a lady on the dance floor!)

Need to brush up on your waltz or foxtrot?  Maybe you’ve always wanted to try something completely new like Latin dance or hip-hop but didn’t know where to start? Fortunately, Prague is full of dance schools and studios. Here’s a list to start and all of them are in the centre. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner, a regular attendee or a professional – all schools present a wide range of dancing courses for everyone. Usually you can either sign up for a course or attend several classes. The price per class can vary from 120 kc to 250 kc depending on the school and class you choose. Some schools also conduct open classes and seminars, which will give you a general understanding of the course and allow choosing the one you like best.

CENTRUM TANCE (http://www.centrumtance.cz/tanec/default.asp) and TANECNI ŠKOLA VAVRUSKA (http://www.vavruska.info/) are very good for beginners and regulars, and the courses are not expensive. The information on the website of Centrum Tance may say that it is not possible to attend a class while not being signed up for a course; however, if you come to the school and talk to the receptionist, she usually allows attending the class.

Those who have some grounding in dance may be more interested in attending DANCE PERFECT (http://www.danceperfect.cz/en/onas), DANCE ACADEMY PRAGUE BY YEMI AD ( http://www.danceacademy.cz/dance-academy-prague-by-yemi-ad.aspx) or TANECNI STUDIO CONTEMPORARY (http://www.contemporary.cz/contemporary). These schools offer classes for all levels, but the advanced levels are especially good. DANCE PERFECT has very good teachers of contemporary and jazz; DANCE ACADEMY PRAGUE BY YEMI AD has an international team of teachers who speak English, and specializes in hip hop and Bboy style (however, other styles are taught as well). The courses there are a bit expensive but they are worth the money. Don’t be confused by the name TANECNI STUDIO CONTEMPORARY, by the way.  Although it specializes in contemporary dance and jazz, this school also has classes in other dance styles.

Don’t worry if the first school you try isn’t quite right for you.  Keep on looking until you find the one that suits you best.  There are so many benefits!

As graduate students, we all spend so much time living in our heads although most of us know the benefits of exercise.  Dance goes much deeper in satisfying not only physical needs, but also helping to access our emotional and spiritual needs, which then feedback positively to our intellectual side, providing joy and energy, motivation, memory training, insight and discipline, deepening connections within our inner life and to other people.

For me, dance has become an essential part of my life. Even if I am tired, bored, angry, or stressed, once I enter the dance hall, my mind relaxes. My body follows the music. I forget all my cares and troubles, and tension and stress melt away. Whether dancing by myself or with a partner, dancing gives me the feeling of freedom and completeness. This is the best way to express myself; it’s like speaking without saying a word. And it leaves me with deep feelings of happiness in the way that nothing else can.

You’re not a fan of dancing yet? This may mean that you haven’t found the proper dancing style for yourself! Below I describe the main (in my opinion) dance styles that are popular today, together with the benefits they have.

I’ve tried various styles, starting with Breakdancing and Hip Hop and ending with Folk and Contemporary, but the one I love most and keep on practicing now is Ballroom and Latin Dancing. Ballroom dancing includes Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango and Foxtrot. The International Latin style consists of Cha-Cha, Rumba, Jive, Samba and Paso Doble. What I like most about these styles is that despite sharing a common technique, each dance has its own character: Rumba is romantic and flirty; Cha-Cha and Jive are playful; Tango and Paso Doble are passionate and energetic. Latin dances are known for their sensual hip action and sexy flair. They encourage grace, posture and sensuality, and can be danced both individually and in pairs.

Other Latin styles include Salsa/Mambo, Bachata, etc. The technique of these dances is much less demanding and is very good for those who have never danced before.

Zumba is a fun way to exercise. This is a mixture of simple moves strung together into easy-to-remember mini-choreographies. Zumba is very easy. Everyone can learn the steps and variations within a class or two.

Ballet, Broadway Dance, Contemporary Dance and Jazz Dance all incorporate classical dance technique (typical positions of feet and hands) and encourage grace and balance. They are good choices for those who love musical culture and theatre in general.

Ballet serves as the backbone for many dance styles, using music and dance to tell stories. It helps to strengthen muscle groups that don’t get much of a workout in traditional exercise, the intercostal, back, deep abdominal, buttock and neck muscles, all of which are important for correct posture. It also helps improve coordination and balancing skills.

Unlike the strict, structured nature of ballet, Contemporary Dance stresses versatility and improvisation. It combines elements of several dance genres including modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet. This dance is often done in bare feet.

Jazz Dance is energetic and fun, consisting of fancy footwork, big leaps and quick turns.

Broadway Dance is for the musical theatre repertoire. A typical example would be the dance found in musicals like “Chicago”.

Hip hop, B-Boy Style, R’n’B, Street Dance, Street Jazz and MTV Style will help you to improve your sense of rhythm and musicality, make muscles more conditioned and toned while expressing your personality and even your sense of humour.

Hip hop is a very energetic street dance style. It allows you to perform with great freedom of movement, adding in your own personality.

B-Boy Style or Breakdancing is a form of hip hop that includes cool moves and quick spins. Breakdancing mostly consists of “downrock” moves, which are performed near the ground. “Uprock” moves, performed standing up, give breakdancers a chance to incorporate their individual styles.

R’n’B, Street Dance, Street Jazz combine other dancing styles with hip hop.

MTV Style is inspired by the contemporary world music and dance, which can be seen in music videos of artists such as Beyonce, Usher, LadyGaga and others. It’s a combination of street dance, hip hop, R’n’B, but also expressive dance.

Dancehall, Glamour Dancing, Lady’s Sexy Dance (Flirt dance) teaches women how to be seductive and sensual. These styles help you learn how to feel the music and enjoy it.

With so many dance styles to choose from, one of them is bound to be right for you!  See you on the dance floor!

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