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Dancing for the Funof It byGina Carrico meanwe should sit on the sidelines. M

Dance is proven to be one of the best activities you can do for your mental and physical health. So don’t let age dictate the rest of your dance life.Did you knowthat dancing: decreases your blood pressure lowers your risk of heart disease and strengthens the bones in your legs and hips?

A21 year study published in theNewEngland Journal ofMedicine found dancing can reduce the risk ofAlzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.Dancing requiresmemorizing steps and sometimesworking with a partner, both ofwhich providemental challenges that are crucial for brain health.

With the renewed interest in ballroomdancing, resulting fromDancing with the Stars, ballroomis back! Themetroplex has several studioswith onemost likely in your area. Ballroomdancing can increase stamina, increase balance, and helpwithweight loss. In downtownDallas, Shorena ofGocha&ShorenaCenter ofDance, says that dancing has its own formof discipline and she has lots of technical “left-brain” people who take class. “It enables themto exercise the right side of their brain which they seemto really enjoy.” Shorena believes that dance exercises your body,mind and spirit.

Pat Tharp ofDancemasters, has been teaching ballroomdance since 1966.He says, “You forget about the negatives that comewith being morematurewhen you are dancing. It’s a happy time for you.” AformofMiddleEastern dance,most commonly known as belly danc- ing, is a beautiful, non-impact exercise suitable for all ages.Much of belly dancing involves isolatingmovementswhich improve flexibility of the torso benefitting your spine by exercising your “carrying”muscles without impact.Armmuscles benefit fromthemany graceful arm movements that take some strength and control to do properly. An unseen gift of belly dancing is that it can aid your digestion.Rolling your belly and swaying your torsomakes belly dancing especially good for this purpose.

Polynesian dance is another lowimpact dance formthat focuses on bal- ance, strengthening your coremuscles, and practicing proper breathing.

Pictured: iNStepDance Company

I had the privilege to learn this beautiful genre and I have to say that Polynesian dance is actually a cultural experience. Since the dances interpret stories, you end up learning the history and culture of the islands as you learn the dance. Personally, I have never felt so spiritually calmaswhen Iwas dancing a hula or aparima.MarivicMcElroy from theCollinCounty PolynesianCulture group says that, “Polynesian dance tonesmuscles and shapes the body through burning calories.An extra perk is that it increases the serotonin in your bodywhich con- tributes to a feeling ofwell-being.”

iNStep, a dance companymade up ofwomenwhowork and have families, has a simplemission statement to communicate –Age is just a number. Some of the companymembers bravely began dancing as adults,while others have been dancing all their lives.Companymem- bers come fromall over theMetroplex to set aside their Saturdays to dance for several hours atDancemasters Studio inDallas. Thesewomen have an untouchablework ethic and leave their egos somewhere else when it is time to rehearse.We have become a true sisterhood of dancerswho respect each other and yes, laugh at each other and our- selves fromtime to time. It ismy pleasure to be the so-called choreogra- pher for this group.Abetter descriptionwould be facilitator,with a little choreographermixed in since everyone can contribute to the finished dances. Is it easy?Nope. Is it fulfilling and fun?Absolutely!

Listed are just a fewfun dance experiences available in themetroplex thatwill enrich your life.Dancing can and should be a lifelong activity! The social outlet provided by dance contributes to its allure. In addition to being creative and expressive, dance is just plain old fun.Which bringsme to a very important aspect of trying anything new– you sometimes have to not take yourself too seriously. Laughter keeps us feeling young and boosts our energy. Treat yourself to something good—dance!

Editor’s note: To learnmore about dance studios and companies that provide classes and performance opportunities, go to theDanceCouncil ofNorth Texas’website ( and click on “Find a Link.” Feed the dancer inside of you! Let theDanceCouncil help you to sample and savor themultitude of dance andmovement opportuni- ties available inNorth Texas.

Gina Carrico is a long timemember of theDallas dance community and new contributingwriter toDance!North Texas. She has performed in theUS and abroad and is the choreographer of iNStep.Gina lives in Planowith her husband of 29 years and son. Contact her at

Pictured:Gocha and Shorena teaching class at Planet 2010. Photo: ToddHedrick page 16

may 2011 DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publication of the dance council of north texas vol. 14 • no. 2

any people think that their opportunity to dancewinds down as they get older. It is true that our bodies have a harder time with flexibility and need longer to recover.But that does not

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