Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Dancing is Like Couples Therapy



This is a GREAT ARTICLE I saw on MSNBC.com, written by Lois Elfman for YourTango. It was so good, I had to share it with you here.


Why dancing is like couples therapy

Learning to dance together teaches communication skills, fosters respect

By Lois Elfman

Most women love to dance. It's kind of a biological imperative. We hear music and we start to move to it. In our dreams, the men in our lives are moving with us. Dinner and dancing is a kind of ultimate fantasy date, but too often we skip the second part.

Things have been looking up for boogie-enthusiasts these past few years thanks to the success of “Dancing With the Stars.” Seeing macho football players like Jason Taylor, Average Joes like Jerry Springer and billionaires like Mark Cuban adeptly moving around the floor can make men feel liberated to give ballroom dancing a try. The end result can be a heightened sense of electricity between couples.

“If women are not happy, this is when we nag,” jokes professional ballroom dance champion Elena Grinenko. “If you make your woman happy then she's relaxed and she's not asking for a lot because she feels very secure.” One way to make a woman happy, she argues, is to get her on the dance floor.

“As far as therapy for couples, it's a great thing to do,” she says. “Dance teaches us a lot about the relationship between the male and the female.” Dancing requires good etiquette and communication, and the body language is unbeatable.

Now in his seventh season on “Dancing With the Stars,” professional dancer Tony Dovolani spends much of his time between seasons presenting seminars and giving private instruction. Wherever he goes, he sees couples reconnecting through ballroom dancing.

“It's almost like you have a newfound love for each other,” Dovolani says. “Discovering new steps together teaches couples to interact with each other. They're looking into each other's eyes, anticipating the next move. It opens up energy channels of feeling and connection. It rejuvenates everything.”

Dovolani says learning to dance teaches communication skills and fosters respect. The physical activity is a great stress reliever and the positive feelings about the shared experience make couples excited to carve out alone time.

Don't let the skimpy costumes on “Dancing” dissuade you. People of all ages, sizes and shapes can take up ballroom dancing, which encompasses everything from cha cha and salsa to waltz and foxtrot. That's why Dovolani so appreciated being paired with actress Marissa Jaret Winokur in season six. A plus-sized woman who is only 4'11", Winokur said she never felt sexier in her life, and she encouraged all women to embrace the activity.

While not all men have Dovolani's moves, it doesn't mean they can't bring out a similar reaction in their own partners. “In dance, if you make your woman comfortable, she will love you forever,” Grinenko says.

So, from the practical angle, where do you start? There are ballroom dance studios in virtually every city. Some are connected with larger organizations, such as Fred Astaire Dance Studios or Arthur Murray, and a Google search produces plentiful listings for independent outfits. You can get private lessons or join a group class. Most studios have regular dance parties, so couples connect with each other and widen their social circle.

Couples who feel intimidated about dancing in front of people or are too busy to schedule lessons can get an at-home instructional DVD and practice at home. Dovolani and Grinenko, who dance together professionally (she has also appeared on “Dancing”), have developed a Web site called BallroomDanceChannel.com. Lessons can be downloaded for dances ranging from swing to samba.

“It teaches you the fundamentals, like the figure, the steps, a little bit of the appearance and what the character of each dance is,” Dovolani explains. “That way, you can start learning in your own living room and really ‘dance as if no one is watching.’ ”

Grinenko says that couples who start in the comfort of their own homes often wind up catching the dancing bug and taking more lessons in the studio. Oh, and if you want to know what gets her heart pumping, “For me, tango is the sexiest dance alive,” she says.

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