How Many Things Can My Brain Do at Once?

Multi-tasking. Blessing or curse? Sometimes I try to take on way too many things at one time, when focusing on one thing at a time may actually be more productive. However, as a business owner, it is necessary to multi-task often and well. Small business owners are definitely not the only ones whose brains have to work a million miles an hour; ask a parent of 3… or 1… how many things they are thinking at once! Sometimes I am amazed at what our incredible dance parents can accomplish for their kids. Kudos. I digress…

Dance can help train our brains to take on mass amounts of information and process them them quickly. Here is one interpretation of what is going through a dancer’s head while doing a pirouette (you may have seen this on a popular meme floating around):freeday5

“Okay, make sure you start in a turned out fourth and a nice plié and really snap that leg up into passé as quickly as you can and don’t leave your arms behind you and when you turn, don’t forget to really squeeze your core muscles and your seat muscles and you want to keep your standing leg straight and use it to push down into the floor and keep your arms up and your shoulders down so you feel your obliques working and before you come down really squeeze your muscles to stay up in passé as long as you can and then bring your leg down all the way before you land in plié… OH and don’t forget to spot…”

And all of that happens in a matter of around 1 second or less. While making intentional brain-body connections is a huge part of training your mind to tell your body how to multi-task, this is a lesson that translates into so many useful tools for life. Interested in starting your dance journey? Click here. 

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Dancing Makes You Smarter.

Today we have a special post with an excerpt from an article written by Richard Powers of Stanford University. Turns out that in addition to the multi-faceted physical and emotional benefits of taking a dance class, dancing makes us smarter! For the full original article, click here.

According to Powers:

Frequent dancing makes us smarter. A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit.  Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.freeday6
You may have heard about the New England Journal of Medicine report on the effects of recreational activities on mental acuity in aging.   Here it is in a nutshell.

The 21-year study of senior citizens, 75 and older, was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Their method for objectively measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity.  They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect.  Other activities had none.

They studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and playing musical instruments.  And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework.

One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia.  There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind.

There was one important exception:  the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.

Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia

Bicycling and swimming – 0%

Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%

Playing golf – 0%

Dancing frequently – 76%.   That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.

Becoming a Special Kind of Story Teller

There are a plethora of ways to tell a story. Writers and orators are the most obvious kind of story tellers, and writing and speaking are very important and special skills to perfect. Painters are story tellers. They use color, material, depth, etc. to tell their story. Photographers are awesome story tellers. Chefs aim to take you on a journey through flavors. Musicians tell stories with their complex melodies and dynamics.

Dance is my favorite kind of story telling.

Our bodies are such amazing things. We are thoughtfully and purposefully made. let me go pose.pngWhat we can do with our bodies never ceases to astound me, and telling stories with our bodies is one of the most basic and relatable ways to communicate. What do you do when you don’t speak the same language? You gesture. You point, you move around to try and communicate with your body. Dancers just take that to the next level and intentionally study the extent to which we can use our bodies to communicate. To tell a story.

This Saturday is one of my favorite events at Lonestar Dance Center. It is the 3rd annual performance of our show, “Matters of the Heart.” Pre-teen and teenage dancers come together to tell stories about self-affirmation, standing up against bullying and wrong-doing, and finding beauty and joy in ugliness and pain. We, as choreographers and teachers, are not only teaching, but allowing, these artists to tell stories about which they are passionate, and it is the greatest fulfillment of our jobs. I hope you can join us! Check out the event page here
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Motivations and the “Why”

One of the first steps of starting a business, group, service, etc. is to create a mission statement. Why are we doing this at all? What is the motivation, and what do we stand for? Everything that comes next should be shaped by this mission statement. Unfortunately outside factors tend to push and pull on the mission, re-shaping and re-creating it over time. Sometimes that’s ok; change can be good. Sometimes it’s negative, and you look up and realize how far away your current actions seem from the original reason to do it at all.

Our mission at Lonestar Dance Center is “to empower kids to express themselves with vip mini jazzconfidence.” We use the art of dance and 7 core values as the lens to teach this mission every day. Everything we do should fit under these umbrellas, and if it doesn’t fit, we need to re-evaluate if it’s something we should pursue.

So why do you do what you do each day? What is the core value or core mission behind how you choose to spend your time or money? Happiness? Investing in your child’s future? To be successful? I ask my dancers this from time to time: “Why do you dance?” While the answers are varied, they help re-shape their work ethic, focus, and joy in the classroom. It is an important lesson to have to express the reason behind how you spend your time, and that lesson definitely falls under our mission here at LDC. Interested in starting your dance journey? Download a free class coupon here.