Ballroom dancing attracts athletes and creative types

Athletic activities take on many different forms and among the more recently popular are various types of dance. Television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have been major forces behind the growing numbers of dancers.

Dancing attracts men and women of all ages, fitness levels and cultural backgrounds. People dance socially, competitively or for the entertainment of others. Perhaps no other athletic activity is so universally accepted.

The physical demands of dancing vary greatly. The pace and rhythm of the dance will dictate the cardiovascular component. Caloric output can vary between 200 and 400 calories per hour depending on the pace of the dance.

Agility is important for dancing and participation -- even at a novice level -- will improve balance. As with all weight-bearing activities, muscles become stronger and bone density increases. Typical injuries include ankle sprains, knee injuries and a variety of strained muscles.

Ballroom dancing, which requires a partner, has become particularly popular.

Adult ballroom dancing camps are held around the world. A recent week-long camp at Mt. Snow, Vt., attracted 50 dancers from the United States and Canada. Ballroom Vermont owner Byron Siegal has seen a 40% increase in participation over the past five years and more than 50% are repeat customers.

“We both enjoy the physical as well as mental and social aspects of ballroom dancing,” said veteran campers Robert and Peggy Cassey. Peggi Morrow directs the camp and finds that campers fall into two broad categories: the analytical group where every movement demands careful study and the creative group who just start moving with reckless abandon.

Like any sport, success is based on timing, coordination and strength. Enjoyment is based purely on attitude.

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