Four girls around 20 years old are speaking to each other in the dressing room of the club.

They are wearing black and red bodysuits and stockings, sharing a red lipstick and hemming their costumes. In a few minutes they are already on the stage. The crowd is screaming and men cannot take their eyes off them. The girls are gracefully moving on the stage, doing acrobatic elements and flirting with the male audience.

Zlata Skrypnik is the leader of this women-only dance team and at the same time the founder of the Waaside dance school in Prague. She is skinny, has blonde hair and smiles all the time. She has been dancing since the age of three. She started with ballet but what she does now is far from the classical school. Female dance styles such as go-go, jazz-funk, dance hall and twerk are not accepted by many people, especially elderly ones; nevertheless, it is extremely popular among girls between 15 to 35 years old.

Zlata Skrypnik, the founder of Waaside studio in Prague. Photo by Dima Tonkiy.

Why? “I enjoy realizing the fact that I can catch people’s attention with only one movement,” Skrypnik says, “that I can dance in a club or even on the street and see admiring glances.” At the beginning most girls go to dance schools for that reason but then they realize that there is something more important.

Dancing, which is basically a combination of physical work and actor play, is good for health in both the physical and psychological sense.   

“I watch my students changing.” Skrypnik says, “The girls become more energetic, more feminine, more open and positive.”

Dancing is good for the cardiovascular and adipose systems, metabolism and immunity.

Different movements make all the muscles work, which helps to keep fit and is good for the posture. “It is possible to lose a kilo of weight during 1-hour training,” Skrypnik says.

Dancing improves coordination and strengthens the vestibular apparatus which is the sensory system that contributes to our sense of balance and spatial orientation. It enhances our flexibility in movements. Regular training with complex movements improves brain activity and memory and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Dance movements prevent many other serious illnesses. They help to strengthen the hip joints and knees.

Waaside studio during a dance practice. Photo by Dima Tonkiy.

Dancing also has a psychological aspect for girls. “At the beginning many students feel uncomfortable, cannot relax and even do not look at the mirror. It is a common thing which disappears in one or two months. Then they look much more self-assured. Dancing helps to become more liberated and be yourself,” Skrypnik explains. A person gains harmony, gets rid of stress and tiredness.

It is good for those who suffer from depression, fear and self-doubt.

So-called dance therapy was first tested in 1940 in Washington, U.S. The therapy was developed for chronically ill people. The patients said they felt much better after their dance classes. “Dancing treats the soul better than words do,” therapists say. From the ancient times it has been considered that dancing has strong magical energy. According to how a person moves it is easy to make judgments about his or her temperament and sexuality. So people who can dance are thought to be more energetically strong and easily catch other people’s attention. As George Bernard Shaw puts it, dancing is “the vertical expression of horizontal desire legalized by music.”

Nowadays some psychologists advise their patients to take a few dance classes which can be taken in any dance school. For example, it is a good thing to do for couples who have been married for a long time and have  lost interest in each other. “Women may try female dance styles or a couple can go to tango classes together,” Skrypnik says.

Tango helps to “allocate roles” for men and women in their relationship. A couple will cope with the dance, only if both partners play their strictly marked roles. “Partners have to feel, absolutely trust and rely on each other. Women have to follow men and realize that there is nothing to be ashamed of when a man is the leader.

Tango is a great metaphor for a relationship in which two partners have to become one, they cannot exist in tango separately,” Skrypnik says.  

In female dance styles there are many movements done with chest and thighs which reveal women’s sexual energy. It helps them to feel more feminine, beautiful and desired. “It is a funny thing but there is a tendency among my students. Many of them after a few months of classes come to me and say that they are pregnant,” Skrypnik laughs.

Ten years ago there were no dance schools in Prague in which female dance styles were taught. It has been developing in the USA but not so long ago European dancers came there and then brought these styles to the Czech Republic. Now there are about 20 dance schools for women and in some dance halls up to 100 students can work altogether. An average price for a month of classes is 1,000-1,500 CZK per person.

“If you own a school, you may earn around 300,000 CZK a month if the business is successful,” Skrypnik says.

Photo by Anastasia Breh

In the middle ages ballet and ballroom dancing were popular. In the last century people danced twist. Now there is still a wide choice of styles to dance. Among young girls the most popular are the “dirtiest” dances. Skrypnik explains, “You can be a professional in classic dance only if you start at the age of 5 as maximum. At the same time, it does not matter how old you are when you start dancing, it is available for everyone. I even know an 80-year old woman who firstly came to a belly dance class. There are no limits.”

Skrypnik has some advice to those who want to start dancing. The first one is not to be afraid of anything. “Life is short and if you want to do something, do it,” she says. Many girls are afraid of dancing in a group because they think they are fat, ugly or clumsy.

Skrypnik says that even 100-kilo weight women look great when they know how to move, and it is even more impressive. The second advice is to never give up. “It is not easy to dance, especially to begin, but everything comes with time. Practice makes perfect,” she concludes.