Your Health

Step it up: Dance brings communities together


Town Crier File Photo
Impromptu dancers outside the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts let the music move their feet. Dancing can generate a sense of social connection, energy and camaraderie.

It’s no secret that dancing is good for us. According to research, dancing provides strong cardiovascular activity, improves memory, helps with balance and coordination and boosts emotional and mental health.

I’ve been dancing since age 7, starting with ballet training and moving into training, performing, competing, choreographing and instructing in hip-hop, modern, jazz, Latin and Bollywood dance throughout my childhood, teenage and adult life.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that dancing is a form of self-expression, a wonderful confidence booster and a creative outlet. And when we dance with others within a community, the benefits are even greater. There’s a sense of social connection, energy, camaraderie, fun and pure joy.

I have had the pleasure of organizing a few local community dance events over the past year, including a group performance at the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival on the Facebook Community Stage, a dance class and lecture at Los Altos High School for students on World Language Day and two group performances during the Springer School auction both last year and this year.

In each of these events, three outcomes were quite prevalent and speak to the fact that dance can truly bring communities together.

• Dance is contagious. When students from my Passion Fit dance classes and I danced at the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival last September, attendees got up out of their seats and danced with us. It was so wonderful to see families and people of all ages joining in on the fun and enjoying music and movement together at the festival. It was a truly heartwarming experience.

• Dance crosses boundaries. In February, I was asked to lead a group of Los Altos High students through a dance class and lecture to celebrate World Language Day. We did different styles, including Latin, Bollywood and Middle Eastern dance. The students did a great job learning all the steps and dancing to music from different parts of the world and in different languages. Afterward, we had a discussion on how dance is universal and can truly cross boundaries from all over the world. We also discussed the fact that we’re becoming more and more global in our economy, society, schools, universities and companies, and how wonderful that is.

• Dance spreads positivity. A group of fellow moms and I danced at our auctions for Springer School. Last year’s theme was “Saturday Night Fever” and this year’s theme was the Olympics. Therefore, the dance performances, music and costumes reflected 1970s disco and true Olympic spirit. The parents, faculty and staff who attended cheered us on, provided wonderful feedback and hit the dance floor as well during the open dance portion of the auctions. The auction performances truly helped spread positivity within the Springer community, and they have now become an annual tradition.

If you’re looking for new ways to bring your community together, I highly recommend including dance as a key component and hopefully you’ll see how contagious it can be, that it can cross boundaries and that it can spread positivity.

Reena Vokoun is founder of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit, a health, wellness and fitness lifestyle company. Passion Fit offers online courses, one-on-one or group wellness consulting, activewear, wellness retreats, workshops and speaking engagements, videos, a blog and fitness and dance classes 9 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at Areté Dance Center in Los Altos. For more information, visit passionfit.com.

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