by Adriana Carr, MPA
Senior Center Director
Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation
“There are short cuts to happiness and dancing is one of them” – Vicki Baum.
It’s time to start talking about dancing. Why? Well so many of us work with participants who are crazy about dancing. Most of all, because it’s fun and being ambassadors of fun is one of the many hats we wear. If you’re looking to add extra pizazz to your programming, consider more dance.
According to a Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter, dance is one of those activities that exercises both the brain and body. Learning new steps or patterns activates the neurons and moving to music moves your body. There are also the benefits that are gained from listening to music when exercising.
For those of you who love the science of things, dancing improves motor function, memory, spatial recognition and increases endorphin levels. Dance is also utilized as a way to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. On the social and big picture side, a whole group of people moving to music, smiling and having a great time is always a wonderful sight to see.
Scheduling any type of partner dance program always brings with it the challenge of one gender outnumbering the other. That’s why line dancing is a perfect choice. No partner necessary! The music that accompanies a line dance can be as varied as the choreography. Country western, Motown or popular dance music are all good choices. The complexity of the dance can also vary according to the level of the people doing the dances. The most important thing is that everyone can dance.
Of course, there are some sticky details to consider. I have on one occasion or two blindly set up a line dance event only to be flummoxed by the different definitions of dance levels. To me a beginner dance is for someone who barely knows their right foot from their left. That’s not quite right apparently. There are several levels: beginner, beginner-beginner, just getting started beginner, dance newbie (different from beginner-beginner) and new beginner. I gave up before I could even get to the next level! That’s where having a season line dance teacher comes in handy. They tell you what level, steps and music are involved.
After all that, I still believe that if you want to improve your fun credentials, you can’t go wrong with including several line dance programs. You might even want to organize a line dance party! Speaking of parties, we’re still hoping to coordinate a state-wide line dance event. What line dance levels does your center offer? What’s the most popular types of music? Let us know.