It’s a mental brain work-out,” says Merle, a flamenco dance student who took her first class 6 years ago in Halifax, while she was in her forties. “It’s a challenging exercise.” Flamenco requires intense concentration and an appreciation for the various complexities of flamenco musical rhythms. This helps keep the brain young and the heart exhilarated.
But brain stimulation and a pumping heart aren’t the only benefits of flamenco.
“By the end of an intensive class, I am breathing heavy, and sweating, my posture has improved, my joints work more smoothly, and I feel more solid in my center core,” says Susan, another flamenco dance student in Halifax. “It is unlike anything I have experienced with tough physical training in sports.”
That’s because the repetitive footwork drills, arm elevations, the hand and torso twisting all combine to challenge muscle memory.
“One part of the brain is alert to the actual physical environment,” writes Carmen Romero, a dancer, teacher and therapist. “The floor, the ability to physically endure the dance, and knowing when to rest or move explosively. Another part of the brain–memory–needs to keep track of the music, while yet another controls endurance in a way that permits dancers to sink into the body and access their emotional world.”
Flamenco dance will teach you how to isolate movement and strengthen your muscles. It allows for an inner sense of our bodies that informs us how, where, and what each part of the body is doing at all times.
Health Benefits of Flamenco Dance
Feel Good Stress Reliever: It’s okay and actually encouraged to express your emotions in flamenco; anger, happiness, sadness, loss. It’s a major self-esteem booster.
Improves Balance: known to universally deteriorate with age
Memory Loss Buster: wards off memory loss in older adults by continually challenging their brains through learning about new cultures, new dances, and new songs
Core Stability: Flamenco is excellent for posture. It requires a long, straight spine, shoulders back, tail bone tucked under and the core-stability muscles around the middle pulled in and up.
Upper Body Strength: You have to keep your arms above your head for long periods with flamenco, moving them in graceful twists and sweeps. This quickly develops long, lean muscles in the arms and shoulders.
Calorie Burn: The fast pace and dynamic, explosive moves of flamenco boost heart rate and stamina
alive.com #311, September 2008. Carmen Romero.
Lisa Buckingham, The Guardian, “Flamenco versus belly dancing.” December 2007.