If you’ve spent years training in a particular dance style, or you simply have a favorite style that you love more than all the rest, you might wonder why bother with anything else? Although there are some who would argue that sticking with one style is best, allowing you to hone your skills and potentially master it, others argue that this exploring other styles would only add to what you’re doing, rather than take away from it.
Athletes who play sports such as basketball and football, are typically coached to include other types of activities such as running, weight lifting, stretching and so on, in their training regimes. This is said to keep them in top condition for their respective sport. This type of cross-training is not only highly recommended and beneficial, but is also essential for maintaining total body strength, conditioning, and keeping a well-balanced program.
There are many advantages to this sort of cross-training, such as giving the body a break from otherwise repetitious activity, which can lead to overuse injuries, and allowing one to target and strengthen crucial areas like the core and knees with spot specific training. This minimizes the risk of injury while making things new and interesting. Weight bearing exercises build lean muscle and strengthen bones, which is important for a dancers long term health and mobility. It is also helpful for dancers who do any partnering (particularly the ones lifting), to have sufficient strength and endurance required for lifting another dancers weight over their head with minimal risk or strain.
Another great advantage of adding variety to your dance regime is that by allowing yourself to step out of your comfort zone, you become exposed to a whole new world of music, movement and so much more. This will only enhance your knowledge, skill and dance ability as a whole; forcing you to continue learning and growing. It can also expose you to an entirely new community of people, forging broader experiences and training, thereby opening the door for other opportunities. All of this ultimately making you a better, wiser dancer. And not to mention, diversifying your resume (makes you quite an asset and irresistible to potential employers and collaborators).
Most of the busiest dancers working in the industry today have a fair amount of training or experience in other disciplines outside their own. This makes them more bookable and able to stand out among the rest in the sea of competitors vying for the same opportunities. TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance force dancers to learn, execute and master countless dance styles – some so far out of their wheel house that some struggle to keep up (like toddlers learning to walk). This is done to better prepare the contestants to be more competitive in the real world of professional dance where the more you know, the farther you go!
If dancing competitively or professionally isn’t a personal goal of yours, and you’re just doing it for fun, exercise or some other reason, trying another style won’t hurt, rather will broaden your movement vocabulary, and add to the overall enjoyment and fun you’ll experience.
Think of dancing and physical activity like food. Whatever your favorite dish may be, it is important to eat a variety of foods each day in order to stay healthy. You might love pasta, but we all know that it isn’t a good idea to eat only that all day everyday. Just like with food, physical activity and many other things in life, a little variety is good for you, and goes a long way. It makes you a more well rounded person and dancer, and just like that saying goes, “variety is the spice of life!” Furthermore, you don’t know what you’re missing out on until you’ve given it a try!