Health benefits of dance

Darc 2010

These days, people love to watch other people dance. Competitive dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars or competitions here at home like SPAN/IDO: street dance battle and salsa show dance competition are dominating the entertainment world.

What you may not realize, however, is that dancing a great way to keep your body and mind healthy. Studies show that dancing can do a host of things which we will examine closely in this article.

Boost Memory

According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older.

Their method for objectively measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity.  They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect.  Other activities had none.

        Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia

        Bicycling and swimming – 0%

        Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%

        Playing golf – 0%

        Dancing frequently – 76%:  That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.

If the essence of intelligence is making decisions, then a valid question would be … how do you develop such a skill?

Involve yourself in activities which require split-second rapid-fire decision making, as opposed to rote memory (retracing the same well-worn paths), or just working on your physical style. One way to do that is to learn something new.

Image02838Take a class to challenge your mind.  It will stimulate the connectivity of your brain by generating the need for new pathways.  Difficult classes are better for you, as they will create a greater need for new neural pathways.

Improve Flexibility

Flexibility is an important part of being healthy. Most dance classes begin with a warm-up including several stretching exercises. Most forms of dance require dancers to perform moves that require bending and stretching, so dancers naturally become more flexible by simply dancing. Increasing your flexibility will help ease joint pain and post-exercise soreness.

00778

Reduce Stress

Dancing to slow music, with a tempo that is easy to follow, or dancing to a fast beat are equally wonderful ways to relieve stressful times provided you enjoy yourself. Allow yourself to feel the music, move your arms, and sway your body. Enjoy the movements as you stretch your arms, and your body to release all tension.

Image02603

Recently, a paper published in the American Journal of Dance Therapy linked tango training, meditation and exercise with reductions in stress and improvements in insomnia.

Diminish Depression

Dancing really does lift your spirits, according to a study in that tested the effects of dancing on people with depression.

Image02601

Research tells us that dancing improves mood in the following ways:

  1. Gives you an endorphin boost from exercise
  2. Increases self confidence
  3. Improves social skills
  4. Expands your social network
  5. Lifts your spirits
  6. Reduces depression
  7. Laugh at yourself (you will make mistakes)
  8. Keeps you in the moment.

Feeling a lil’ depressed? Grab a friend and go dancing.

 Help Your Heart

For someone with mild to moderate heart failure, dancing lessons may be the perfect gift this season.

Image02200

In a study, people with heart failure who took up waltzing breathed better, exercised longer, and generally felt better.

Dancing boosted heart health just as much as exercise, says researcher Romualdo Belardinelli, MD, a professor of cardiology at Università Politecnica delle Marche School of Medicine and director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at Lancisi  Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2006.

 Lose Weight

Bored with your bicycle? A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that an exercise program of aerobic dance training is just as helpful for losing weight and increasing aerobic power as cycling and jogging.

In fall 2012, Roni Tarver was in a bad mood.

The 5-foot-6-inch teacher weighed 235 pounds and suffered back pain almost constantly. She was popping 10 to 15 ibuprofen daily, which took a toll on her stomach. It didn’t help that she was on her feet most of the day and dealing with the stress and exhaustion of being a relatively new teacher.

Her husband never once said anything about her weight, which made her feel worse about not taking care of herself. She had quit smoking, but knew she needed to get active because climbing stairs still left her winded.

January 3rd, 2013, she signed up for her first Zumba class.

roni-tarver

It was the beginning of her new life.

 Balance Better

If you are nervous about falling as you get older, some dance lessons might help ease your worries, according to a study in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity that showed tango dancing can improve balance in aging adults. Dancing requires a lot of fast movement and good posture, so frequent dancing will help you stabilize and gain better control of your body.

Image02823

Increase Energy

Can’t seem to find your get-up-and-go? Taking a dance class might help.

hip hop 2009 darc jenn,frk, uk

Research published in The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition found that a weekly dance program could improve physical performance and increase energy levels among adults.

Dancing provides heart-healthy aerobic exercise, which increases energy by improving blood flow, in an upbeat environment that includes music and the opportunity to socialize with others. Because you have to focus to keep up with the coordinated movements and steps required in dance, dancing also provides a mentally stimulating workout.

Make Friends

latin 2009 darc

A dance class is the perfect setting to make new friends and branch out socially. Maintaining positive relationships may just rank up there with healthy eating and exercise. Being socially engaged leads to increased happiness, reduced stress, and a stronger immune system.

Ref:

WebMd, CNN, DARC festival (SPAN exchange program)

Advertisements

Ballroom dancing; tips and tricks

_MG_5960

Ballroom dancing is quite an amazing feat; it enables two perfect strangers to move around a crowded dance floor, in very close proximity, in perfect time with the music, and execute intricate patterns, without bumping into other dancers or into each other and they accomplish all this while looking comfortable and graceful.

Dance students are often frustrated and find learning difficult. It is, and it should be.

Don’t be embarrassed or annoyed if you make an error. Laugh it off and try again. After all, it’s supposed to be fun.

The three most important rules in learning to dance are: PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE.

To start your learning experience, join some dance classes. SPAN is obviously the first and best choice you should make. www.spanigeria.org  here,you get to meet other aspiring dancers and top notch instructors.

Tips & Tricks

Bearing

SPAN (13 of 18)SPAN (1 of 1)-2

Stay erect, don’t slouch, arch your back. Keep your head up at all times and DON’T look at your feet.

Relax, try smiling, even if you’re concentrating.

Remember, your partner can help you, either with good leading or good following. However, your partner can’t do anything to make you look good if your bearing is wrong.

Turns and Swivels

SPAN (5 of 7)  SPAN (3 of 18)

Turns and spins are fun to do, however, they do require some specific skills.

there are only two directions in which you can rotate; outside of your standing foot and the inside of the same foot. From both directions, you can execute five different types of turns…

1. Inside swivels

2.Outside swivels

3. Pivot turns

4. Spin turns

5. Spiral turns

What does all of this mean and how can we execute them? I can hear you say

SPAN is waiting for you… (tee hee!)

Body Contact   

SPAN (1 of 1)-3 SPAN (2 of 3)

In smooth dances, whenever possible, maintain a light pelvic contact with your partner. An arched back helps to achieve this while maintaining a comfortable distance between upper bodies. Try it in closed position, angled position and promenade position. If you want to feel the difference between dancing, and dancing together, this will be an eye opener.

Men, when doing a parallel step, or a promenade, try keeping your shoulders facing your partner rather than facing the direction of your feet. It’s a bit like downhill skiing, where the feet point across the slope while the upper body faces straight down the slope.

Many ladies pull away from their partner without being aware of it. Others feel they may give the wrong impression by being close to their partner. Once you try it, however, you will be elated by the feeling of really moving in unison.

Don’t confuse this with the international or standard style of dancing which requires that body contact be maintained at all times and where underarm turns, parallel or side-by-side positions are prohibited.

Leading

SPAN (2 of 18)SPAN (8 of 18)

Leading has to be done in the spirit of wanting to help your partner do the pattern you wish to execute. You don’t push or shove her around. Be gentle at all times. See what works best. Concentrate on your partner. Make an effort to become a good leader.

The most important part of leading is probably body language. If your partner is attuned to you, if she listens to your body language, she can detect very slight changes in motion and direction and can react in ample time. You can consciously emphasize your body language when needed, such as when you lift your shoulder before you prepare to sway.

Leading is not something you turn on and off. When you drive a car on a straight road, you still keep your hands on the steering wheel and make small corrections when required. The same applies to the control the leader has to assume when dancing. It is always present but only used when needed.

A strong lead does not mean applying a lot of force. It is a matter of firm, continuous and steady control.

There are many ways to signal your partner what to do next. It all depends on the dance variation you’re trying to execute. The following are just a few examples.

Your right hand gently turns your partner into a promenade position. Turning your head and body toward your left gives further emphasis to the move (see the second picture above). To execute a chasse, push a little harder as if to say “we have to hustle a bit here”, and at the same time pretend to lift your partner unto her toes (gently does it).

A right hand pull also guides your partner forward into an angled position on your right or left side (such as a tango fan). This gentle pull, combined with a slight rotation of your shoulders should be enough to indicate your intention.

A firm and slightly downward pull will accomplish a tango corte, particularly if combined with a slight bending of the left knee.

If you want your partner to angle backward, use a slight shoulder movement. Push forward firmly with you right shoulder to make her angle backward to your left, and vice versa. Waltz twinkles are a good example of this technique.

Start thinking about which foot your partner’s weight is on. Trying to lead her into a move when her weight is on the wrong foot will result in some awkward stumbling.

If you’re a student, ask your teacher about these maneuvers, he can show you some very effective moves.

If you’re hopelessly out-of-step with your partner, or off the beat, stop and start again. It’s much better than to stumble along.

Following

SPAN (1 of 2)SPAN (11 of 18)

In close position, always look over you partners right shoulder. Your right pelvic bone should be inside your partner’s right pelvic bone. This lines up your shoulders parallel to your partner’s, the best position for moving backward and forward. Many ladies have a tendency to keep their right shoulder farther away than their left shoulder. Similarly, men have a tendency to push their partner away with their left hand or pull them too close with their right, with a similar effect. This makes it much harder to move and to lead .

Keep your left arm firm, don’t let it flex. This provides you with a tactile feedback of your partner’s movements. Whether he moves forward or backward, you’ll always keep the same distance from him (see body movement above).

Your right arm should not pull, push or otherwise exert force on you partner’s left hand. Except in certain circumstances, your left arm is used as a decoration. It is not functional.

After a promenade movement, quickly return to a close position and look over his shoulder again. This lines you up again for the next move.

Stay close to your partner and maintain body contact. You’ll feel the direction of his body movements and will be able to react more easily. Relax, don’t be pro-active, don’t try to anticipate the next lead. Don’t be too brittle or strident in your movements, become more languid, letting the man guide you along (don’t fall asleep, though). Try occasionally closing your eyes and concentrate mentally on your partners body movement and his hand, shoulder and head leads.

The only exception is when your partner is about to collide with another couple while moving backward. Warn him with a tap on the shoulder, or even pull him to a halt. He’ll thank you.

Body motion  

SPAN (12 of 18)

When you dance, your body should be in continuous motion.

To get a smooth start, imagine the following. You are balancing a long pole upright in your right hand. To move the pole away from you, you have to first let the top tilt away from you. Then, as the pole starts to tilt, your hand has to quickly move in the same direction so the pole is balanced again. Now try the same idea with your body. Your legs and spine represent the pole. Start tilting forward or backward, then quickly move the bottom of the pole, your feet, under your shoulders to restore your balance.

The technique applies to both partners, but the most pronounced benefit is the fact that in this manner, the man telegraphs his intention to the lady who can feel his body movement with her left hand resting on his right upper arm a split second before his feet start moving. If you have a steady partner, try moving in different directions with both of your hands at your sides, and with the lady’s only contact with you being her left hand on your right upper arm.

On cross-body leads (walking around your partner), stay close and finish the step in close position. Many ladies end up a foot or more away from their partner, throwing him off balance..

Ladies, don’t roll your hips in all dances. The Cuban or Latin hip movement is reserved for Latin dances such as the Rumba, Mambo, Cha-Cha, Bolero, Samba and Merengue. The exception is East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Shag where top-level competitors all use a pronounced hip movement.

Footwork 

SPAN (7 of 18)SPAN (4 of 18)

Many dancers move with their feet apart. This makes them look awkward. Try the following. Imagine walking on a plank of wood, just wide enough to accommodate your feet, side by side. Now move forward and backward without stepping off the plank. You’ll notice that when one foot passes the other,  it brushes against it.

Get used to brushing your feet against each other moving forward and backward, then apply the same technique to moving in different directions. Whenever one foot takes a step, it touches or brushes against the other before you put your weight on it.

Note that, except where a variation demands it, one foot never crosses in front or back of the other. Each foot always stays in its own track.

Ladies, I know moving backward most of the time is difficult. However, try pointing your toe out when stretching the leading leg backward (and I mean stretching). Arching your back helps.

When you spin, either on two beats or on a triple step, stay on one spot by keeping your feet together (unless the step requires you to travel, in which case you stay on the plank). This way you wont wobble, loose your beat, or end up too far away from your partner, forcing him to chase and catch you , or rushing to close the gap.

When you kick, point your toe out and down. Pointing your toe up or inward looks very ungainly and is only suitable for some western moves (where it looks cute).

DISCLAIMER: Pictures are from a SPAN class, not every one dancing is a professional except the instructor of course.

Interview with Sarah Boulos on SPAN@10 by Tamo Iruene

IMG_3635

When a web search of organizations that support youth, dozens of websites will lead you to resources for enterprise, entrepreneurship and even football.  But what of the youth whose experience in sports leads them to feelings of failure? Or those that can never create anything with their hands to save their lives?

Do the same web search of organizations in the performing arts and find…. very, very little.

A vibrant Theatre Arts presence in a community brings other benefits as well.  It can bring in tourism  – and a steady cash flow to business owners.

The Society for The Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN), a performing arts institution that combines Nigerian cultural traditions with world-class training, creating a platform to nurture and release creative potential in art, dance and music has been in existence for 10 years.

10 years that have not been without their challenges, their highs and their memorable moments.

Sarah Boulos in her capacity as Founder and Chairman of The Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria has trained and or contributed to over five hundred individuals in the professional field. SPAN has showcased and partnered with over 100 NGO’s and Mission work as well as provided on a yearly basis over thirty jobs in the entertainment industry.

In a No Holds Barred interview with Mrs. Boulos, she had this to say

_MG_5292_1

SARAH BOULOS

Why did SPAN start?

Because it was needed and I was ready to serve and today the industry is soaring with professional performing artists hired and owning private businesses. SPAN, BORN OUT of a GOD GIVEN VISION IS PURPOSE DRIVEN AND PURPOSE DRIVEN MISSION are ignited because of a need and the need is to educate and present performing artists  to provide them with job opportunities and present their art and for children to develop themselves in an area of education that is missing in Nigeria.

Was it difficult being accepted by Nigerians?

It was as first when we started but as much now because the Nigerian community can now see the benefits of the performing arts and what it brings to the community, like new job opportunities , a better and healthier lifestyle, a creative energy in the economy, a positive outlook on our city and A reduction in the poverty line.

What challenges did you face?

To build awareness and educate the audience that this project is very much-needed in our society and industry.

At the beginning, banks did not take me seriously and now they are hiring and sponsoring my student programs. Fundraising was also a major challenge and now it’s a lot easier, people are considering sponsoring the arts!!

What is different now…from 10 yrs ago?

Because the industry has opened partly due to our work, there is more hope to see a performing art center built and a place for young people to learn and develop themselves and pursue their career in the performing arts because of our success stories in the Industry.

THE STIGMA, THOUGH STILL PRESENT IS NOT AS STRONG!

Do you regret any of the decisions you made then?

No, only when I get tired and desire to quit then a young child gives me a flower or I receive an encouraging word from one of my students then I know how precious and needed my services are.

What would you do things differently if you had the chance?

Yes I would, in certain areas of communication and who I partner with but in general the journey is necessary in every dream as we must learn lessons in order to grow

What does SPAN @ 10 mean to you in a nutshell?

A place where our citizens are educated , entertained and inspired for more through the performing arts .

What do you expect the show to accomplish?

The show will reinforce our vision and the need to develop more educational programs and to build a place to accommodate students and citizens to explore the wonders of the performing arts.

FotorCreated

SPAN/IDO dance battle, a part of SPAN@10

ido poster

The SPAN/IDO (International Dance Organization) Salsa competition and the 9ja Dance battle which Started in 2010, is an event all dance lovers aspire to be in attendance.

Who can ever forget the gravity defying leaps? The graceful turn of the hand during a salsa styling move or just the simple beauty of dance?

ikem ohia and antonia slim and ginger sly and zara taiwo and nneka

It’s here again, as part of the SPAN@10 celebrations.

DSC_0653 DSC_0661 DSC_0674 DSC_0764 DSC_0850

A direct quote from the IDO president

“…come 2016, the winners will be taken out of the country to compete on the worlds stage. they will be entered in the Hiphop and Salsa categories.”

Dance crew (1 of 1)-31 Dance crew (38 of 39) DSC_0626

Do you have a dance crew or you’re a spectacular salsa dancer? you still have a chance to participate…contact the SPAN offices now

Dance crew (28 of 39) DSC_0190

VENUE: Ocean View, Eko Hotel and Suites

TIME: 3pm

23rd of April 2015 is not a day to be told… you NEED to be there!

What Happens in Vegas Stays…

[L-R: Ice, Jim & Jenell Maranto, ukalina]

[L-R: Ice, Jim & Jenell Maranto, ukalina]

On June 16, two of SPAN’s finest, Ice [Creative Director] & Ukalina [Head of Dance] were sent to Las Vegas, for training as teachers in Latin and Ballroom. They were taught by professionals, Katarzyna Kozak and Marcin Tomaszewski, amongst others.

Katarzyna Kozak and Marcin Tomaszewski

The training went beautifully, so let’s just say that what happened in Vegas didn’t quite stay in Vegas as they have since returned to Lagos, but the excitement from the experience still lingers!

Next stop before their return was California, where they went for their Bronze and Silver certification in International Style. Ice & Ukalina had the best as they were trained by Latin and Ballroom ‘heavyweight’ Coaches; Kasia Kozak, Diane Jarmolow, Thomas and Isabella Lewandowski under Dance Vision.

They had a meeting with Founder, Mr Wayne, and Dance vision Examiner, Mrs Diane, who after viewing their overall skills proposed to make them Dance Vision Examiners in America and Africa! Awesome right?!

Ice & Ukalina with dance Vision Founder, Wayne Eng

Ice & Ukalina with dance Vision Founder, Wayne Eng

So, Ice & Ukalina are done with the first stage of the certification which is the Associate level and they intend to finish as Dance Vision fellows within the next 6months.  Dance Vision was obviously impressed with SPAN as they have great plans to work with us in the growth of Latin and ballroom in Nigeria. We definitely  are looking forward to that!