Free square dance party Wednesday, April 5

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    By Carla Roberts
    Special to The PREVIEW

    The Wild West Squares teaching program invites you to a free community square dance party, “Wild West Spring,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on April 5 at the PLPOA Clubhouse.

    This family-friendly meet and greet event features demonstrations of basic, mainstream and plus dancing of the Wild West Squares, free food and a community “barn” dance for anyone who would like to try very simple and fun square dance activities.

    Free 10-week beginning square dance course

    Then, on April 12, Four Corners-based square dance caller Carla Roberts will begin a free 10-week Introduction to Square Dance.

    In this new dance course, Roberts will teach at the basic level, so new dancers can quickly master enough calls (or dance steps) to experience the exhilaration of dancing in a group setting. The class focus is for everyone to have an enjoyable dance session while learning the building blocks of square dance. It’s an activity the whole family can enjoy. If you have children old enough to follow instructions (usually 8 or older), they can participate right along with the adults.

    The course will run on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m., April 12 through June 14, at the PLPOA Clubhouse, 230 Port Ave.

    This is a fun, easygoing and free class open to families, couples and singles. The suggested age for children is at least 8 years old. Call Roberts to enroll at 903-6478.

    Frequent dancing makes us smarter 

    For decades, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently, we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin levels.

    Most recently, we’ve heard of another benefit: frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter. A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.

    The best advice, when it comes to improving your mental acuity, is to involve yourself in activities which require split-second, rapid-fire decision making, as opposed to rote memory (retracing the same well-worn paths) or just working on your physical style. Dancing integrates several brain functions at once — kinesthetic, rational, musical and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity.

    People who start modern square dancing soon realize that it’s a thinking person’s activity. The interaction with the caller and the other dancers to complete a movement successfully keeps the mind sharp, focused and challenged.

    Square dancers learn to ‘think on their feet’

    Wild West Squares is at the forefront of teaching square dance using new techniques for learning and high retention based on theories that Roberts has developed over 35 years of teaching experience at all age levels.

    The core of this method is encouraging dancers to “think on their feet” very early in their training, using both sides of the body to increase neural pathways for maximum physical/mental flexibility. All this is done in a supportive and friendly learning environment.