While walking and jogging are great for boosting health and mood, the benefits of dance rates even higher, and Argentine tango seems to top the list.
So what is it about tango that makes 50-somethings feel like 30?
We checked out a Taos Tango practica last week, where dancers fairly rave about their experience with Argentine tango — “addictive” being the operative word
almost to a person.
Andrea Szekerez of Taos finishes her cross-crawl-spiraling moves she was trying out with a partner and hauls off the dance floor to talk about her love of tango.
After Szekerez fractured both tibial plateaus in a car accident seven years ago she found tango through her Pilates instructor Carrie Field, co-founder with
Mike Malixi of Taos Tango, which the pair started in 2009.
“I’m completely addicted to it,” Szekerez admits freely about tango. “It’s a mood elevator. I hiked the ridge (at Taos Ski Valley) today,” she says, as an indicator
of how much improved she is since dancing Tango for five years.
“Now I’m learning to lead. Tango is great physically, emotionally, even spiritually — because of the Zen-like meditation, I think, because you’re so present with
Taoseña Paloma Villalobos also finds the mental aspect of Tango compelling.
“It really causes you to stay in the present. It’s being able to communicate with your bodies and not just mentally; you have to be in the moment to know what’
s going on with your partner,” Villalobos says.
Guest instructors of the evening, Guillermo Cerneaz and Marina Kenny of Bueno Aires, make the point that, unlike most (or all) partner dancing, the leader in
tango must never run ‘up’ on the follower, because the follower needs the space to stay in place.
“You are always walking without pulling or pushing your partner,” Cerneaz says.
The “walking dance” of Tango has come under investigation by Assistant Professor Madeleine Hackney, Geriatric Medicine Faculty of Emory University
School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga.
“Hackney brought to light through her research how dancing Tango is improving the gait of people with Parkinson’s Disease,” Connie Field says.
Field travels to Georgia in April to do a weekend workshop with Hackney in order to start a Taos program, something her Pilates students with Parkinson’s have
asked Field to begin, hopefully for this summer.
“You need volunteers with ‘fall training’ to be dance partners with Parkinson’s people,” because of Parkinson’s imbalance issues Field explains. “You see a lot of
backwards walking in tango — the cross-crawl-spiral that naturally occurs in walking,” and which Hackney’s research postulates is even more beneficial
neural deficits than even ballroom dancing.
“This is my way of giving back,” Field explains about the free program she envisions for Parkinson’s tango therapy, “my community service for all that tango
gives to me.”