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The Benefits of Dancing Your Way Through the Work Day

Princeton Partners’ latest Lunch and Learn involved a dance lesson on the Rumba and the Salsa from two professional dancers. Dasha and Juan, a married couple, compete in dance competitions and teach at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Princeton.  Dasha is also my dance teacher for a charity competition I am preparing for, which will help raise money for Young Audiences of NJ and PA.

 

While we had 16 brave participants step forward to learn some of the basic dance moves in the Rumba and the Salsa, I found it interesting that only one person had accepted the calendar invitation prior to the Lunch and Learn. The morning before our group lesson, I personally invited (or cheerfully coaxed) people to join in. Everyone showed a little bit of nervousness and reluctance, but most were very good sports and agreed to join in. The rest is history.

 

Dasha and Juan showed us the basic steps. We broke out into two lines, turned on the music, and learned the steps and turns together. After 45 minutes, we all felt competent with the basic moves we’d been practicing and there were high fives and laughter coming from every corner.

 

Here are five benefits I observed from our dance lesson:

 

  1. It’s Fun! Learning something new together in real time can and should be fun. But learning some dance moves is even more fun. Dancing just naturally puts a smile on your face and elicits laughter even when your toes are being stepped on – or when you’re stepping on others’ toes.

 

  1. Everyone’s in it together. It doesn’t matter who you are in the hierarchy when you are learning dance. It takes you back to basics and puts everyone on the same level as you learn new moves together. Positive relationships at work are important on many levels and dance is a unique way to continue fostering those relationships. It’s a way to connect with people you don’t frequently have conversations with.

 

  1. Dancing works your brain. When you take on new movements and attempt to learn sequences, it challenges your brain and creates new neural pathways. Practicing your moves repeatedly deepens those neural pathways to create muscle memory. Once your muscle memory kicks in, you can look at your dance partner instead of your feet.

 

  1. It’s a mood booster. And an energy booster, too. Just as with most forms of exercise, dancing naturally boosts your mood because it gets you moving, smiling, and laughing. After our Lunch and Learn, I personally felt more energetic and carried the good feelings into the rest of my work day. I could see others doing the same as well.

 

 

  1. Time flies when you’re having fun. 45 minutes felt like 15 because we were all having a good time. Normally taking a break during the workday seems out of the question for me, but I feel grateful to have witnessed and felt the positive effects of a little brain break. I will certainly be doing it more often and encouraging others to do the same.

 

 

This Lunch and Learn was not only a lesson in dance, but a reminder to keep an open mind when it comes to the unfamiliar. Especially in a work setting where it’s all about acting professionally and presenting the best version of yourself, the unfamiliar change in routine is nerve-racking. However, the hesitance or awkwardness we feel when first being introduced to the unknown is often shaken off easily with a positive attitude, a little bit of practice, and some fun!

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February 26, 2018
Written by Tom Sullivan

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