Hot Springs community dances toward health
The Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Hot Springs presented its ninth annual Dancin’ for a Cause scholarship fundraiser on Oct. 1 in Bank of the Ozarks
Amy Bramlett, dance director for the Hot Springs middle and high schools, participated for her third year. She performed a solo jazz exhibition, partnered with the district’s superintendent, Mike Hernandez, for a contemporary routine, and cheered on her Hot Springs Dance Troupe as they premiered new choreography.
Just before the big day, Bramlett took time to discuss the holistic benefits of her lifelong activity and profession, saying, “Dancing is an artistic expression, but it’s also an athletic form and discipline.”
Styles from waltz to disco and samba to jitterbug all utilize the entire body, and create long, lean lines in its musculature.
“You have to have that open, lifted chest when you dance, in order to let people in. That’s where your presence comes from,” she said.
Even outside the performance benefits, that lifted stature helps keep the spine in alignment and improves lung capacity — each essential for maximum health.
Dance works every muscle group and includes strengthening of the core, and can also improve balance. Additional benefits include heart health through aerobic activity, better mood from released endorphins, increased energy,
reduced stress, flexibility and fun.
Before learning she would partner with Hernandez, Bramlett had noticed during the superintendent’s speaking engagements that his shoulders were a bit rounded. When announced the two would team up, she immediately knew his posture needed to be addressed. As weeks of rehearsal went on, his carriage improved and she said, “He walks a little taller now.”
Bramlett noted that for their routine, he lifted her several times. As they practiced, she was able to help him train his body to lift with the strength of his legs, instead of the lower back muscles — training that can help people in everyday situations.
The practice of dance improves people’s awareness of their bodies, and heightens the ability to breathe in and out properly, instead of holding the breath, which often leads to injury during any sort of physical activity.
People of any age can start dancing, Bramlett said, adding, “but only if you want to be happy. I don’t know if I know anybody that dances often and is sad, because it releases those endorphins right away.”