Dance With Us Ottawa Asks:Did you know that Ballroom Dancing Helps Children With ADHD?
Karina Smirnoff is seen as a focused and determined ballroom dance competitor and choreographer. For this reason, most people would be surprised to know that she has struggled with ADHD her whole life.
“As a professional dancer, I’ve become known for my moves and my career accomplishments, but most people don’t know about another part of my life — I’m an adult with ADHD,” said the “Dancing with the Stars” performer.
Before she was an adult with ADHD, Smirnoff was one of the many children who struggle with the disorder. Luckily, her parents found ways to help her channel her energy.
Instead of forcing her to stay still as a child, Smirnoff’s parents enrolled her in physical activities that held her attention.
“My parents tried anything and everything just to address my inattention and provide an outlet for my hyperactivity,” said Karina. “They enrolled me in activities that held my interest like figure skating, ballet, gymnastics, and playing the piano.”
For Smirnoff, dance proved to be an effective way of coping with childhood hyperactivity. More specifically, it was ballroom dance that became Smirnoff’s main focus and passion.
Oksana Ivanova-Shelkovyy , who teaches dance classes for children and teens through Dance With Us Ottawa, says that she has observed over the years that children focusing on learning new and challenging dance movements and using their bodies to express themselves,not only gain much needed confidence, but also are able to channel their excess energy. Parents often remark that their child is a changed person after only a short while with the studio.
It’s not just young girls who can benefit from the therapeutic power of dance. A research project at Karlstad University and the University College of Dance in Stockholm, Sweden found that hyperactive boys with ADHD became calmer and played better with others after participating in dance therapy.
If your child doesn’t have ADHD, but has difficulty staying focused and sitting still, dance could be the answer.
When world-renowned dance choreographer, Gillian Barbara Lynne, was a child, she had trouble focusing in school. Her mother was so worried about Gillian’s poor grades and fidgeting that she took her to see a doctor.
During the meeting with Gillian and her mother, the doctor turned on the radio and walked out of the room. After observing Gillian moving to the music, the doctor declared that there was nothing wrong with her. She was a dancer. He advised her mother to enroll her in dance classes. And that is precisely what she did.
Gillian thrived in the world of dance. So much so that she went on to choreograph the world’s most famous Broadway productions: Cats and Phantom of the Opera.
If you have a child who can’t seem to stop fidgeting, maybe it’s because she is the next Karina Smirnoff or Gillian Lynne. Your hyperactive son could be a four-foot Fred Astaire. Or, perhaps, he just needs to spend a few hours a week tapping, twirling and gliding out his extra energy.
There’s only one way to find out. Dance with Us Ottawa specializes in ballroom dance classes for children as well as ballet and hip hop. Many children go on to compete. For a sampling of some their accomplished dancers check out the Dance With Us Ottawa Youtube channel.
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