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Art is a necessary element of every community and can take many forms, including film, song, dance, painting, and more. All art forms are important and offer different perspectives and ideas. Historically, art not only brings together communities, but it also inspires positive change. “Art,” according to Emily Cross of the University of Glasgow, “is often considered to be a society’s collective memory, preserving what fact-based historical records may not be able to—how it felt to exist in a particular time and in a particular space.” Art allows us to resonate with someone’s emotions in ways that may allow us to understand things more deeply. Art is culture and showcases the coming together of many cultures to make a community. 

A community can have many different cultures, but it is the melting pot of these unique aspects that create the community. Acadiana, for example, is the melting pot of Cajun, Creole, African, French, and many more cultures. Together, they create art to express themselves and each is unique and beautiful. It is also believed  that art increases tolerance for differences in cultures and helps people empathize with people different from themselves. When people can feel the emotions of other people, they automatically can empathize with them and even begin to understand their hardships. According to the National Rural Health Alliance, communities that engage in various art forms are more likely to promote healthy lifestyles and be happier in general. Not only does art bring together communities; it also benefits individuals. A study by the University of London showed that observing art releases dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which causes the viewer to be happier and leads to a reduction of stress hormones. In today’s age, it can be hard to stop and appreciate art, but it is very beneficial to mental health. Children also benefit from observing and participating in art, especially dance.

Not only is dance an artform, it is an incredible tool for overall human development, and it’s fun. It teaches children coordination, musicality, discipline, and creativity. Movement and exercise challenge the body while other parts of dance challenge the mind.  Harvard researchers have found that dancing “helps develop new neural connections, especially in regions involved in executive function, long-term memory, and spatial recognition.” These are important components in child development. Researchers have found that children as young as a few months old start to dance and people even in their 90s can still dance. In addition to being fun, dancing can also have many health benefits for the elderly population. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “dancing involves both a mental effort and social interaction and this type of stimulation helps reduce the risk of dementia.” Overall, dance is a universal art form for all ages and has many benefits, both mentally and physically. 

 Ballet in particular, teaches not only a classical art but also introduces an appreciation for classical music and instrumental music. I participate in the art of ballet and dance at an Acadiana nonprofit, Lafayette Ballet Theatre (LBT). Every year, they host The Nutcracker and a spring performance. Ballet as an art form is the merging of art and athleticism. The actions are strenuous and require agility, while the execution must be artistic and appear effortless. Ballet also is theatrical but without the use of words. Every movement must tell a story with strictly your body and the connection to the music. In addition to that, the dancer must also be on the very tips of her toes with pointe shoes. According to PBT, “It's about weaving stories, conveying emotions, and forging a profound connection with the audience through every graceful twirl and poetic leap,” which poses a challenge not only for the dancer but also for the choreographer. The choreographer is the equivalent of the author while the dancer must assume the role of the storyteller. Today, ballet is viewed as an art form of the past, but I believe that it is a timeless art form. Like every form of art, it is used to communicate ideas and emotions, and it is exceedingly important that communities support and enjoy ballet for the unique perspective it offers. It allows true and genuine emotions to be conveyed in a way that sustains dancers and audience members alike.