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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Local Freestyle Dance Provides Fun and Wellness

May 29, 2015 10:05AM

No Dancing With the Stars (DWS) season would be complete without senior judge Len Goodman’s critiques regarding the lack of traditional dancing moves in the choreography performed during ABC’s popular dance competition series. Fortunately for individuals that join in any of Valeria Hill’s wellness dance classes at Shangri-La Springs, in Bonita Springs, choreographed dance moves are out, along with any fuddy-duddy self-judgment. Only fun and play are in.

While the 10-season run of DWS has provided excellent entertainment, it has also provided visual proof to millions of U.S. viewers that dancing has a wide range of mental and physical benefits, beginning with weight loss. Incorporating fun and free moves such as Hill’s Coco Loco Tropical Dance into a regular physical activity routine can lead to improved condition of the heart and lungs, more muscular strength, enhanced endurance, more responsive motor fitness, better balance, improved muscle tone and strength, optimal weight management, stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis, according to California’s Berkley University. “My freestyle, solo wellness dancing, which incorporates moves from Nia, samba and Capoeria, also improves flexibility, which helps with joint stiffness and pain,” says Hill.

“Alone, Nia provides a good mind/body fusion workout. Incorporating any of its 52 joyful and moves into wellness dancing give us a lot of opportunities to fully express ourselves and free our spirit,” she notes.

Samba, a lively, rhythmical solo dance that originated in Brazil, is most often recognized around the world as a symbol of that country and the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Hill’s home dancing turf.

Capoeira is a Brazilian art form which involves rhythm, movement and personal expression. “Although the details of Capoeira’s origins and early history are still debated, it is known that African slaves played a crucial role in its development,” advises Hill.

Dance not only instills grace, but it also helps us age gracefully. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost memory and prevent individuals from developing dementia in older years. Science also reveals that aerobic exercise can reverse volume loss in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory.

If, as pop singer Gloria Estefan’s lyrics indicate in “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” freeing your body to dance may be only the beginning, “You might just start to find other ways to dance through life,” quips Hill.  

Coco Loco Fashion & Dance Studio is located at 4836 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 3, in Bonita Springs. For more information, call 239-298-3327.

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