How often do you find yourself toe-tapping, hip-swaying or lip-syncing when one of your favourite songs plays on your iPod?
Anne Flynn, joint professor in dance and kinesiology at the University of Calgary, said the response is natural: "Human beings are hard-wired to move rhythmically." She added that our nervous system responds to beats and different rhythms encompassed by the physical and social benefits of dance.
"Exercise is not the main goal for most people who go to dance," Flynn said. "It is a beneficial by-product."
Dance incorporates the same physiological benefits as other forms of exercise, which include increased heart rate, endurance, stamina and the release of positive endorphins, but Flynn illustrated an important distinction between exercise in your local gym and exercise in dance. She said that when on the elliptical machine one goes through a series of repetitive movements over a period of time, while dance is being in the moment and responding to the rhythm of the music.
"People are called to different rhythms," said Flynn. "Dance is about a personal connection and half the fun of finding that connection is experimenting and trying new [forms of] dance."
The common theme among the U of C's dance clubs is connecting students with opportunities for their bodies to respond to a beat and a rhythm.
Flynn emphasized that dancing is good for social experience and is beneficial as a stress reliever.Elizabeth Svoboda from Psychology Today said "moving to music activates the brain's pleasure circuits."
There are several clubs available to students at the U of C, including hip-hop, funk and belly dancing.
"The opportunities available on campus are to give students the opportunity to learn about dance," said Elena Samoilova, president of the Student Dance Club. "Dance clubs are excellent for students who want to pursue dance for recreation."
The SDC offers a nine-week lesson in the winter semester for those interested in dancing with little or no experience. On January 16 and 18 they are hosting free dance workshops on campus for any interested students.
The next time you catch yourself toe-tapping, hip-swaying or lip-syncing, think about dance and the natural physical and social benefits it entails. The U of C dance clubs provide opportunities for students to enjoy the response to rhythms around us.