Can Flamenco be one of those powerful health recipes for the body and mind? My nine year old has a different theory on this. When I tell him about yet another great Flamenco artist that passed away, he will say: " You see, they all die because they scream too hard". Well yes, we will all die one day or another. The question is whether regular Flamenco practice and dance positively impact our quality of life, and more specifically, optimize mind and body wellness.
I often say there is nothing like a Flamenco practice session or a class to keep your mind disconnected from everything else that is going on in your life. The coordination and focus required to execute flamenco steps, complex combinations, technique exercises and choreography will make you so entrenched in the moment, investing 100% of your concentration. Meditative in its own way, Flamenco dance has no equal for me in terms of being a daily activity that makes me disconnect and be in a bubble. What does that do? Studies show that activities you engage in with high level of focus and concentration increase your feelings of well being, clarity of mind and emotional stability.
Another aspect of flamenco that affects our psychological well being is the feeling of self esteem that one can gain by practicing this art form. With time, a dancer will start understanding and applying the assertiveness of Flamenco expressions and eventually start adopting these attitudes in their daily life. There is a number of Flamenco schools and teachers who focus on self esteem as an outcome of teaching Flamenco dance to their students.
We have often read articles about the benefits of dance in general when it comes to boosting memory. And Flamenco doesn't fall short there. The constant challenge of remembering foot work patterns and sounds, the rhythmic complexities, and the tremendous amount of coordination required to pull all components of this intricate dance together make it a great sport for the brain.
When it comes to physical fitness, Flamenco dance being anaerobic in nature, will not only raise your heart beat and work your cardiovascular endurance, but will also put strain on your muscles (shoulders, core, quadriceps, calves) creating a capacity for strengthening and toning. After spending this last year in Seville dance training daily, I took my first run in over a year on a sandy beach in the summer, and it felt like a breeze. I realized how increased my lung and muscle endurance was due to my daily dance routine. Not to forget, while you are getting your workout in with Flamenco dance, you are expressing yourself with your body, releasing what's bottled inside and opening your spirit to the beauty of Flamenco music and song.
Is Flamenco dance intense for the body? Yes, but in a good way. Dance in general makes us gain awareness of our body, and you soon know your limitations and boundaries, as we all have them. You get to discover the right level of intensity and challenge for your body while still enjoying your dance discipline. Remember, it's about the uniqueness and authenticity of your expression and not the speed and length of your dance routine. So dance every day and keep the doctor away!