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Dance fever

9 September 2009

Sort of making the rounds of the second-string news sources (I only picked this up from the Spanish-language Yahoo.news reprint) is a Reuters story from Buenos Aires about a psychiatric hospital that has incorporated tango into its therapy.  With good reason:

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine found the when patients with Parkinson’s took tango lessons their balance improved.

Its intricate steps helped to improve the memory of Alzheimer’s patients in Britain. In Italy the trust needed for the tango’s tight embrace and its backward walk are used in couple’s counseling.

“With tango, you have the advantage of having many different styles of dancing to fit each specific patient,” said Martin Sotelano, chairman of the Wales-based International Association of Tango Therapy.

“You focus on the embrace and the communication for couples counseling; the eight basic steps of tango for Alzheimer’s; and the tango walk, that requires so much grace and rigidity, can help a patient with Parkinson’s.”

It’s not just tango, and it’s not just accordians that keep Latin Americans so spry into their dotage.  Go to Plaza Morelos in Mexico City on Sunday afternoon, or the Zocalo in Veracruz almost any night of the week…

… and you’ll see folks in the seventies, eighties and even nineties elegantly shaking a leg doing Danzon — originally a Cuban slave version of the waltz, but incorporated into Veracruz culture, eventually making its way to Mexico City in the 1930s and now… spreading even faster than Dengue fever.

And, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription.

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