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  • Writer's pictureLuAnn Hooper

Exploring Some of the Many Types of Dance For Health Benefits

I'll start out with the 3 types I am most familiar with, and involved in. Traditional Appalachian Clogging/ Folk Dancing. Clogging is a truly American dance form that began in the Appalachian Mountains and now enjoys widespread popularity throughout the United States and around the world. As the Appalachians were settled in the mid 1700's by the Irish, Scottish, English and Dutch-Germans, the folk dances of each area met and began to combine in an impromptu foot-tapping style, and the beginning of clog dancing as we know it today. Several types of Clogging are Buck, Free style/ Hoe Down, and Flatfoot, which are usually done solo to live Fiddle and Bluegrass Bands, Smooth and Running -Set and traditional Appalachian clogging are usually done in formations changing partners, also with live bands or with CD, vinyl records, with the "Caller" out on the floor with the group calling the different formations. There are Team Clogging, Couples and Solo dancing. Square Dancing is usually 4 to six couples doing formations, changing partners and the "Caller" can be on the floor with them or on the side line calling out the formations to the group on the floor. and the music can be with a live band or vinyl record, tape or CD music. Maggie Valley is the Clogging Capital of the eastern US. If you have ever had the chance to visit "The Stomping Grounds Barn”, in Maggie Valley, you have experienced the best of the best Clogging entertainment! And, Clogging is the State Dance of West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina! Some of the health benefits are: Cardiovascular exercise, strength and endurance, stress relieve, social interaction, and balance and coordination.

I've mentioned 2 of the 3 that I am most familiar with, the 3rd being Belly Dancing. Oriental dance or "Raqs-Sharqi" is the correct name for Belly Dance, (also called Middle Eastern Dance), and is one of the oldest forms of dance. The Historical data on Belly Dance is fragmentary as there is relatively little documentation throughout the age of literacy. The name of "Belly Dance" was coined in 1893 by Sol Bloom, an American Event Promoter, who was trying to stir up public interest in the "Streets of Cairo" exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair, (Little Egypt & the Dance of the Seven Veils). This beautiful dance did NOT originate as a dance of seduction for the sultans, but as a folk Dance that people, male and female, would do at joyous occasions. In certain cultures, it was also a dance that "trained women's muscles" for childbirth and was usually performed by women for other women, their families or their husbands, but never for strangers. There are several styles of Belly Dance, to name a few, American Cabaret, Turkish Cabaret, American Tribal, and Tribal Fusion. Belly Dance is a low impact, weight bearing exercise which is especially good for women and it can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and is suitable for all ages and body types, good cardio, stress relief, improved flexibility and self-confidence.

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