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Research shows that dancing has a range of physical, emotional, intellectual, and social benefits. It helps improve muscle tone and strength, eases anxiety and depression, sharpens mental focus, and provides opportunities for connection, among other positives…

The Multiple Benefits of Dancing: Science Data***

By Haripriya Reddymachu

What Is Dancing?

Dance is defined as the movement of the body in a rhythmic fashion, usually in time with a piece of music. We can dance for the enjoyment of the movement itself, or we can use dance for the expression of emotions or ideas. There is professional and/or competitive dancing where dancing is considered as a job and/or a form of art, but there is also social dancing which engages people of very different age and physical abilities.


In terms of the number of people involved, there are three main categories of dancing:

  • Solo dancing: Performed by an individual

  • Couples dancing: Performed with another individual and

  • Group or community dancing: Performed with a larger group of people.

Dancing has been around from the earliest traces of human history. The earliest records of dancing have come from cave paintings in India dating back 9000 years. It is thought that before the creation of written language, dancing was an important part of communication and story-telling.

  • Improves memory

  • Decreases risk of dementia

  • Enhances alertness and awareness

  • Improves focus and concentration

  • Improves muscle tone and strength

  • Increases balance, coordination, and agility

  • Improves lung function

  • Improves bones health

  • Helps with weight management

  • Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Increases flexibility

  • Increases endorphins and reduces pain perception

  • Improves self-esteem

  • Eases depression, anxiety, and rumination

  • Improves mood

  • Decreases stress

  • Improved psychological well-being

  • Strengthens interpersonal and social skills

  • Provides more opportunities for connection

  • Enhanced nonverbal communication

  • Decreased loneliness

The Benefits of Dancing

Scientific research shows numerous benefits of dancing: physical, mental, as well as emotional. For instance, one form of dancing known as conscious dance has helped many people cope with stress-related health conditions and has improved their overall psychological well-being (Laird et al., 2021).


Additionally, dancing, specifically Argentine tango, has been proven to improve the lives of people who live with Parkinson’s disease, which decreases the quality of life leading to postural instability, diminished functional mobility, and gait problems. Argentine tango improved balance and functional mobility among people affected by Parkinson’s disease more than traditional exercise because Argentine tango is better at targeting impairments related to Parkinson’s disease. The quick movement changes, variety of movement speeds, and frequent initiation and cessation of movement characteristic to Argentine tango targets difficulties such as turning, bradykinesia (slowness of movement which is a fundamental symptom of Parkinson’s disease), and movement initiation (Hackney & Earhart, 2009).


Along with Parkinson’s disease, dance is also being used as a holistic treatment for autism, chronic pain, dementia, and mood disorders. Here is a brief overview of the benefits from the Mind-Body-Heart-Connection perspective, which is a foundational concept of the Mind-Body Wonders™.

While many styles of dancing share these characteristics, couples dancing and group/community dancing each have their unique benefits along with the more general benefits listed above. Couples dancing has the unique benefit of improving intimacy and connection between two people. Because couples dancing requires such a strong level of attention and collaboration between the two partners, learning to dance together would improve their communication skills.


Since many couple dances require one dancer to lead and the other to follow, it also builds a sense of trust between the two dancers.


Group or community dancing has its own unique benefits as well. Dancing with a large group of people nurtures the sense of belonging within the community. Community dancing allows people to meet others of similar interests. Because of this, community dancing can foster relationships and provide opportunities for connection. Additionally, many folk dances which fall into the community dance category, are of considerable cultural significance, thus contributing to a stronger cultural identity and strengthening intergenerational ties.

Experience the benefits of dancing as an embodiment technique to grow your life skills in our Dance Your Way Out Of COVID Isolation Workshop, May 1, 2022, Gathersburg.

Types of Dancing

Solo Dancing
  • Belly dance: Originating from Egypt, this is a style of dance that features isolated movements of the hips and torso rather than the movement of limbs through space.

  • Classical ballet: This style of dance focuses on allowing the dancer to achieve the greatest levels of grace, agility, speed, control, and lightness through specific movements and positions of the limbs.

  • Modern: This style of dance is highly expressive and freeform, and it was created in response to the rigid structure of ballet. The movements incorporated into this form of dance are often inspired by other dance styles, and it is not as structured as other forms of dance.

  • Jazz: Mixing both African and European dance styles, jazz dancing is any dance set to a piece of jazz music. This form of dance often features isolation (one part of the body moves while the rest of the body remains still) and syncopation (stressing the offbeats of the music which is characteristic of jazz music).

  • Tap: The defining characteristic of this style is the audible tapping sounds that come from the feet. The specific shoes used in this type of dance have shoes fitted with metal taps at the toes and the heels and wooden soles.

  • Pole dancing/fitness and aerial dance: Centered around a long, vertical pole, this style of dance mixes gymnastics and dance, and it is often used as a mainstream form of core-building exercise.

Couples Dancing 
  • Salsa and Bachata: Some examples of Latin club dances that are widely popular as recreational dancing. They have energizing music, fun moves, and are sure to improve the mood of dancers, as well as the audience. The social version of these dances is not complex, while they have a room to grow for those interested in honing their dancing skills attending dance festivals and workshops around the world.  

  • Ballroom dancing: In this style of dance, partners follow predetermined step patterns and emphasize posture and technique.

  • Argentine tango: The form of dance relies heavily on improvisation and connection between the two dancers. The objective of this dance is to improvise the steps to match the speed and emotion of a song. This dance is characterized by quick and spontaneous movements.

  • Brazilian Zouk (Lambazouk) and Lambada: Lambada is a dance originating from Brazil characterized by fast movements and pronounced rhythmic movements of the hips. Brazilian Zouk originated from Lambada after setting the steps to slower Zouk music.

  • East/West Coast Swing and Lindy Hop: East Coast Swing is a very versatile dance that is easy to learn. It is danced to energetic music, and it is a stationary dance, so dancers dance in circular motions in the same spot on the floor. West Coast Swing is a more improvisational style of swing dancing, and it is often danced to slower, blues music. Dancers dance in a specific rectangular area. The Lindy Hop is a specific form of swing dancing that is characterized by swing outs, fast rotations, and quick footwork.

Group/Community Dancing
  • Contact improvisation: This style of dance emphasizes the physical connection between people and the physical laws the govern the movement. This style also relies heavily upon improvisation. Dancers try to experience the natural flow of movement by letting go of excess muscular tension and willfulness.

  • Square dancing: This is a traditional American folk dance. Four couples dance in a square formation as the steps are decided and announced by the caller. This dance is strongly linked to the Southern and Western regions of the United States.

  • Line Dancing: This style of dance emphasizes the movements of legs and feet, however more advances dances include movements of the hands and arms as well. The dances are performed with many people standing in a row and facing the same direction, and they all dance in unison with the same steps.

  • Sirtaki: This is a Greek dance in which the dancers dance in a line with their hands on the shoulders of the people next to them. An important characteristic of this dance is that the tempo of the music (and therefore the speed of the dancing) increases as the dance progresses. The movements of the dance begin slow and smooth and eventually become fast-paced and vivid actions including leaping and hopping.

  • Kolo: This is a traditional Serbian folk dance in which dancers are interlinked to form a chain and dance in a circular line with their arms down. It is a spirited and fast-moving dance.

  • Ceili: This dance is a traditional Irish dance danced to traditional Irish music. It consists of quadrilles, jigs, reels, and long or round dances.

*** Note: The statements presented in this article are the points of view of authors indicated in the references.

Note on data


Brazilian Zouk and Samba de Gafieira. (2020, September 26). K&L Dance.

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. (2021, October 18). 4 benefits of dancing for mental health. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet - CPYB.

Dance - Health benefits. (2013, April 30). Better Health Channel.

Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Dance. Britannica Academic.

Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Classical ballet. Britannica Academic.

Field, B. (2021, November 18). How dancing helps your mental health. Verywell Mind.

Hackney, M. E., & Earhart, G. M. (2009). Effects of dance on movement control in Parkinson’s disease: A comparison of Argentine tango and American ballroom. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 41(6), 475–481.

Irish dance: History, music, styles, steps, dresses, shoes. (n.d.). DanceUs.Org.

Laird, K. T., Vergeer, I., Hennelly, S. E., & Siddarth, P. (2021). Conscious dance: Perceived benefits and psychological well-being of participants. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 44, 101440.

Lee, S. (2015, April 14). Jitterbug, East Coast, West Coast and Lindy Hop ... What are the Differences? — Duet Dance Studio Chicago. Duet Dance Studio Chicago | Ballroom Dance in Chicago.

MasterClass. (2021, April 1). Ballroom dance guide: 4 types of ballroom dance. MasterClass.

MasterClass. (2021, April 8). Understanding Modern Dance: A Guide to Modern Dance. MasterClass.

MasterClass. (2021, April 13). Tap dance guide: Understanding the origins of tap dance. MasterClass.

MasterClass. (2021, July 19). All About Square Dance: A Brief History of Square Dance. MasterClass.

MasterClass. (2021, November 23). Jazz dance definition: 6 jazz dance moves. MasterClass.

Sirtaki or syrtaki. (2010, November 7). Famous Greek Dance.

Studio, E. D. (2019, November 27). The history of the Argentine tango. Elite Dance Studio.

The benefits of dancing with your partner — Dance Together Project. (2021, February 3). Dance Together Project.

UNESCO - Kolo, traditional folk dance. (n.d.). UNESCO.

West Coast Swing. (2019, May 6). Bella Ballroom.

What is Line Dance? (n.d.). Welcome to Www.CLDAA.Org.


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