Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be

Gateway to Villa Pamphili Park

As someone who has an obsession with tango, one of the activities I miss most in Rome is being able to dance. Not that there’s a lack of opportunity as there appear to be many tango events here, but Fidz claims that he has two left feet and won’t even try, and not knowing anyone in the Roman tango community, I’m reluctant to go to a dance event on my own. Anyway, I was thrilled when I saw that there was going to be a tango performance in our local park at the Villa Pamphili. So off we went to see the Romulo Larrea tango ensemble a few nights ago.

Romulo Larrea Tango Ensemble

To my surprise, the ensemble was from Canada. Romulo Larrea, a master bandoneon player, went to Montreal from Uruguay in the 1970s and is known for introducing tango to Montreal. His musicians consist of a violinist, a double bass player, a cellist and a pianist, all from Quebec. What an absolutely superb orchestra! The music was wonderful and the three couples performing tango on stage were amazing as well. Now I can’t wait to start dancing and I have to find a way to break into the tango community here.

I have always loved to dance and at one time, I would dance tango three times a week or more. By way of appeasing my guilt for spending so much time on what might be perceived as frivolous entertainment, I was pleased to find an article in the New England Journal of Medicine some years ago, citing dance as one of the best activities for preventing dementia in elderly seniors. Not that I am there quite yet but at least it justified my passion. Apparently, not only does dance provide exercise as well as improve flexibility and strength, but it helps to activate new neural pathways in the brain. Who would have thought? Not only that, but a number of studies have shown that people with Parkinson’s disease benefit greatly from dance, particularly tango which involves a great deal of what is essentially rhythmic walking. I have had the great good fortune to see this in person as a volunteer for a group called Dancing with Parkinson’s (DWP) in Toronto (http://dancingwithparkinsons.com).

DWP Dance Class

DWP dnce classes are run by an amazing and talented woman, Sarah Robichaud, a classically trained ballet dancer who has a deep interest in the mind-body connection. People with various stages of Parkinson’s disease attend her dance classes, including some with walkers and others in wheel chairs. It never fails to amaze me how people who have impaired movement can actually get up (with help of course, which is why volunteers are needed) and do dance steps when the music starts. At the end of the class, it is truly heart-warming to see how much happier everyone looks, not only the participants but also the teachers and helpers! Being able to dance is such a pleasure.  We are so lucky to have an activity that people of all abilities can enjoy and which is good for body, mind and spirit. So dance, dance my friends, wherever you may be……………and if anyone knows anything about tango in Rome, please do tell me 🙂

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