Dance for your body and your brain. Lee Currie spoke to dance tutors – all teaching very different styles – to get some idea on what’s keeping enthusiasts fit – and happy.
While we may enjoy watching programmes like Strictly Come Dancing, we’re not really big on ballroom competitions here in sunny KZN. However, we’re spoilt for choice with a variety of less formal dance styles designed to get us moving – from hanging upside down on poles, swaying to charismatic Bollywood music, and a few energetic options in between.
Whatever the dance style, it’s widely known that dancing provides an excellent all-round workout. Physical benefits include increased aerobic fitness, muscular strength, reduced risk of osteoporosis, and weight management to name a few.
ON THE CEREBRAL SIDE
Studies have shown that the combination of music and dancing has a very positive impact on our psyche – boosting memory, cognitive skills, preventing dementia, addressing social anxiety, and, more recently, treating those with Parkinson’s disease.
“Dancing has always been a space where I can let go of everyday life and ultimately let go of all thinking,” agrees Dominique Manias, a clinical psychologist in Sunningdale, who has been dancing since early childhood – initially competitively and currently modern. “We can all think of something we love to do where we’re so absorbed we’re no longer trying to orientate ourselves in the world. Everyone has a naturally high frequency, but it is often diminished by thoughts of stressful, negative emotions. Dancing then becomes our reset button. Pain, stress and anxiety often go hand in hand with depression, and dance can play a major role in remedying this.”
Contemporary, Latino, hip hop, jazz and a few more: “We teach a different style of dance every week,” says Jemma Badenhorst of Freedom Dance Studio, with studios based in uMhlanga and more recently Ballito.
I’ve been very strong in driving the concept of women supporting one another and never feeling intimidated or excluded. Our studio embodies a special warmth and it’s very relaxed in class. We encourage and support each other, particularly if someone is having a bad day and we laugh – a lot!”
UP THE POLE – GYMNASTICS WITH MUSIC
For some, pole dancing may conjure up visions of sleazy music in dimly-lit clubs. While that may still apply in some places, pole dancing is in fact an internationally-recognised competitive sport with a Pole Sports Federation in South Africa.
So, if you’re looking for a total body workout, grab a pole at Pole Base in Glenashley. “There are several types of pole fitness, namely Pole Sport, Pole Art and Exotic Flow/Dance,” explains Cindy Naidu. “The latter is perhaps what comes to mind for most people. Most of our classes encompass Pole Sport and Pole Fitness.” And what about those who don’t think
they’re fit or young enough? “Just try,” urges Cindy. “Your body will truly amaze you. Our motto is, ‘things in the mirror are stronger than they appear’. It just takes a little time.”
VIBRANT AND COLOURFUL BOLLYWOOD
“Derived from Bombay (formerly Mumbai) and Hollywood, Bollywood refers to the American film industry dance form developed from the 1930s in the Indian film industry,” explains Suvina Mahadaw of SM Entertainment and Events based in Ballito.
Using Bollywood music we combine various dance forms such as belly, contemporary, jazz, aerobics as well as traditional Indian dance.” Suvina, a former Miss India SA KZN, also teaches couples who wish to learn a dance routine for their wedding.
TAKE A SEAT
International Ageless Grace educator Fiona Furness offers a brain health programme based on neuroplasticity designed to move the body to exercise the brain to a variety of music. “Comprised of 21 different tools that focus on different parts of the body and brain this offers a holistic workout. The class is seated so anyone can do it – including the physically and cognitively challenged,” explains Fiona whose studio is in Durban North.
So there you have it. You can dance while no one’s watching – but dancing in a group it will keep you fit and be a lot more fun.