A Davis County dance instructor is working with Utah youth to provide them an opportunity to use ballroom dancing as a way of developing social skills. At the same time, students learn more about the art of ballroom dance.
Laura Balmaceda is an instructor and coach at Davis County Ballroom. She said as technology changes, the way people interact with one another changes. That is why she uses her training as a dancer to help her young dancers learn about teamwork and communication.
“I think the thing about ballroom dance that’s exciting is the fact that you get to do it with another person,” Balmaceda said. “Like it forces you to look somebody in the eye, hold their hand and try and non-verbally communicate what you’re trying to accomplish in these structured steps with another person.”
Children ages six to 18 are trying a new program where they learn a different dance style every few weeks.
“Our goal is to get them through the basic holds, the basic timings, the basic rhythms of the dance and some basic patterning,” Balmaceda said. “And then hopefully show them a little about what more it can do.”
Some of her students already know about the advantages of ballroom dance. Instructors from her studio work with the Davis County School District during the school year. Fifth and sixth graders can join these before-school classes.
“We’re told by teachers that they can tell on the days where the kids have had ballroom and where they haven’t,” Balmaceda said.
She said she thinks the difference is because ballroom dance is a physical activity with a mind-body connection that encourages teamwork.
During the summer, Balmaceda teacher two levels of ballroom dance training-- one for children who have never taken a ballroom dance class, and the other for students who have basic ballroom experience.
“Kids want to interact together, and they like to dance, and the music is great. It’s kind of a social interactive thing to do, but it’s still really expressive and structured,” she said.