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  • John Lowry

Tango - The Super Pill

Tango is good for:

  • Cardio Health

  • Mental health

  • Stress, anxiety, depression

  • Relationships

  • Posture

  • Walking

  • Mourning

  • Human contact (social and physical)

  • Body Mind awareness

  • Motor neurone conditions

  • Business Change Management

Cardio Health A study of 48 thousand healthy people indicated a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular death in dancers over a decade compared with infrequent or non-dancers.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine - Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney

Mental Acuity New England Journal of Medicine study on the effects of physical and cognitive activity on mental acuity in ageing. Duration - 21 years The only physical activity to offer protection against dementia is frequent dancing. Dance has a much greater effect on warding off dementia than any cognitive activity. Risk reduction

  • Reading - 35%

  • Crosswords - 47%

  • Regular dancing - 76%

In addition, dance increases serotonin in the brain, reduces stress and depression, and induces feelings of emotional well-being. Dancers have stronger bones, fewer falls, and fewer fractures.


Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia Pinniger / Brown study 2013 (University of New England, ANU, McGill University (Tango v Meditation) In this study, tango dance has been shown to produce a broader range of clinically significant improvements in psychological function and sleep disturbance than meditation or exercise. Specifically,

Tango induced clinically relevant decreases in stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and increases in mindfulness, which were maintained over time. Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, Department of Psychology, Campus Bockenheim, Goethe University, Frankfurt Tango not only raises mood but also has a demonstrable impact on the distribution of stress and sex hormones. The stress hormone cortisol decreases while dancing, whilst both partners experience elevated levels of testosterone and dopamine.


Respectful Workplace and Personal Relationships Tango helps people understand and work out the boundaries of respectful relationships between men and women, both professional and personal, whilst working closely together. Of course, it can also help to heal personal relationships stressed by the pressures of work and life.

"When you touch someone with respect, something happens", Pielle Dulaine, Dancing Classrooms & Dancing in Jaffa.

Motor-neurone Disease - Parkinson’s Disease Many studies and programs around the world indicate that Tango is beneficial as a therapy for people with Parkinson’s Disease, assisting balance and mobility, as well as self-worth and social connection.1

Reducing peripheral neuropathy in cancer patients Dance as a form of therapy - specifically Argentine Tango -- has the potential to significantly improve balance and reduce falls risk among cancer patients experiencing peripheral neuropathy, according to new research conducted by a multidisciplinary research team at The Ohio State University.

Education & social cohesion More than 400 studies related to interdisciplinary neuroscience reveal the hidden value of dance. For instance, we acquire knowledge and develop cognitively because dance bulks up the brain. Consequently, the brain that “dances” is changed by it. As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio points out, “Learning and creating memory are simply the process of chiseling, modelling, shaping, doing, and redoing our individual brain wiring diagrams.”

Dance is a language of physical exercise that sparks new brain cells (neurogenesis) and their connections. These connections are responsible for acquiring knowledge and thinking. Dancing stimulates the release of the brain-derived protein neurotrophic factor that promotes the growth, maintenance, and plasticity of neurons necessary for learning and memory.

Plus, dancing makes some neurons nimble so that they readily wire into the neural network.


Neural plasticity is the brain’s remarkable ability to change throughout life. (Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D., is author of Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement).


Pierre Dulaine, through the US program “Dancing Classrooms,” has demonstrated improvements in student behaviour and academic performance in schools that have adopted his programs. This program was extended to a successful social experiment with Arab and Jewish children in Israel, reported in the documentary, “Dancing in Jaffa”.

It is well accepted that the southern European family structure is beneficial for children. Engaging children in adult social activity helps children develop mature social behaviours as they move into adulthood. Dance is a particularly effective way to integrate generations into mutually enjoyable social activities. We believe that dance could have a long-term beneficial effect on high-risk social behavior amongst adolescents and young adults.

Change Management 1. Improvise - Tango is based on improvised movement. There are a few steps that can be combined but there are no standardised procedures. Leaders learn to harness the power of improvisation and instant adaptation to new situations. Change leadership becomes much more effective when leaders learn to improvise. 2. Profit from asymmetry - In Tango, there is a clear role distinction between a leader and follower. It is clear who is setting the direction and who is performing this. This asymmetry is highly effective in providing clarity, a visible sense of direction, and quick decision-making. However, this asymmetry must not be mistaken with dictatorial leadership or powerless submission of the follower, it must be based on a trustful and relationship instead. Note: Direction and Directions are very different. With direction, the leader is creating opportunities for two people (or a group) to move together in the same direction. 3. Embrace emotion, protect pride - Tango is a performance of desire, passion, seduction, despair, and the struggle for recognition. It, therefore, plays out a vocabulary of emotions, which are commonly unacknowledged in modern change management concepts. “Change management projects are emotionally charged – employees are proud of their work and this can be damaged in the process of altering the way things are done. Tango dancers protect each other’s pride during a performance by turning mistakes into deliberate moves. Good leaders should similarly seek to ensure their employees take pride in what they do, are supported to shine, are pushed to their limit, but not beyond, and that their pride is not hurt in any upheaval. “ (Ralf Wetzel, Vlerick Business School)

Engage the senses Tango simultaneously, intensely engages the senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell. It requires a high level of concentration to listen to and interpret music and to instantly convert the interpretation into action, via only sensing movements in the dance partner’s body.

Yin & Yang Tango combines yin and yang energies from both partners in a constantly changing physical interaction, a conversation without words, bound in a mix of music, social interaction, and ambiance/mood. Tango is often described as “one body, four legs”.

Meditation / Flow state Tango is a meditative exercise that requires intense concentration on the music and your partner. The key role of the woman is to listen for and respond to subtle movements of the man’s body movements with a positive response (question and answer), whilst concentrating on the music. The key role of the man is to “listen” for the position of the woman and to present opportunities at exactly the right moment for the woman to move into space or change direction, whilst concentrating on, interpreting, and translating the music into complimentary movement. He must also connect with other men in the vicinity, carefully navigating the floor in complete harmony with the other dancers. This wider connection creates an enormous energy boost in a crowded room, similar to large group transcendental meditation. A dancing couple can very quickly reach a flow state (be in the zone) once they have the skill to dance without thinking about the “steps”. (See Conditions for Flow in Tango).

Human touch “Touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health. It is our primary language of compassion and a primary means for spreading compassion”. Dacher Keltner PhD UC, Berkley.

Connection with other people, both physical and social is beneficial for physical, emotional and mental health. Tango offers a very close non-threatening physical connection during the dance. Tango dancers quickly adopt the Argentine (and Latin) habit of embracing when they meet. Tango also provides a safe, healthy, non-threatening social atmosphere for people to gather and socialise in a non-work, low-stress environment.

The Embrace The embrace is central to the dance of Tango. “We embrace, connecting our bodies, closing our eyes, mixing our breath, walking every musical note”. “Tango is a 3 minute romance”. The tango embrace will emphasise the felt sensations of the embrace, rather than what it looks like for a detached observer, thus underscoring the importance of experiencing the dance for fully comprehending it2.

Decision making (neuroplasticity) Dance is known to engage more regions of the brain at one time than any other activity. Tango requires continual, fraction-of-a-second, decisions from both partners as they respond to one another’s subtle physical cues. These decisions are random and not predicted, or predictable (like golf or chess). Because of the random nature of many tiny decisions, the brain continually forms new neural connections. This aspect of Tango is an aid in the treatment of certain brain and motor- neuron diseases, particularly Dementia, Parkinson’s and similar complaints.


Creativity Tango is creative. At its best, it is not a collection of rote-learned “figures” or “steps”. It is created from moment to moment, responding to the music, your partner, and the people around you. As soon as it is created, it is gone.

Confidence building / skill development / teamwork / people management Tango requires a level of skill and confidence. It also requires a sense of when to act and when to wait. It is an exercise in give and take, question and answer. That is why we call Tango a silent conversation between two people. These are life skills that are practiced in a dance. Confidence, posture, balance and strength are all improved. Tango requires a person to be centred. Even though a Tango couple are working intimately together, each one must be personally centred, in full control of their balance and actions for the dance to work properly.

Balance Most beginners struggle to walk slowly to music without wobbling. Tango teaches balance, posture, and core strength. Tango dancers learn to maintain their centre, stand on one leg at a time and to walk very slowly to complex musical rhythms. The Tango walk can become part of a person’s way of walking and holding themselves, efficiently and confidently.

Physical activity Tango is a low-impact physical exercise that brings all the well-documented benefits of physical exercise.


Other general health benefits Positive Emotions - Think of things that make you feel happier; random acts of kindness; Positive, supportive relationships

Sense of purpose Sense of achievement - reaching a goalPositive Psychology - Martin Seligman http:// www.positivepsychology.org

Caution: Addiction Tango can be classified as an addiction based on several psychiatric guidelines. Although the consequences of this addiction were primarily positive, many dancers reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they didn’t dance, even including “sadness, feeling uncomfortable and leg prickling.


References:

1 Balance, Body Motion, and Muscle Activity After High-Volume Short- Term Dance-Based Rehabilitation in Persons With Parkinson Disease: A Pilot Study - McKay, J. Lucas PhD, MSCR; Ting, Lena H. PhD; Hackney, Madeleine E. PhD ; Dance therapy for individuals with Parkinson’s disease: improving quality of life - Madeleine E Hackney Crystal G Bennett.; Dance as Therapy for Individuals with Parkinson Disease Gammon M. Earhart, PhD, PT; Qld Ballet. Therapeutic argentine tango dancing for people with mild Parkinson’s disease: a feasibility studyLaura M. Blandy, Winifred A. Beevers, Kerry Fitzmaurice and Meg E. Morris* College of Science, Health and Engineering, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC, Australia.

2 Sensuous and Gendered Embraces: An investigation into Tango Dance Practices; Mia Jensen, Dance Anthropology.

(c) John & Cheryl Lowry

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