Teach your brain some cool moves with cognitive benefits of dance

(Mohamed Hassan/PxHere)

If you’re majoring in the fine arts or looking for an enjoyable way to lose some pounds, Saddleback College offers many courses on dance. This Spring semester the college is offering over 40 courses of dance. From hip-hop courses to jazz dancing, pilates and yoga. Yes these last two are a part of dance themselves.

In 2003 researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that dance can improve the mental health of humans. Through a group of elderly people they found that the risk of dementia was higher in those who did not participate in dance. Compared to cycling, golf, swimming, and tennis only dance itself lowered this risk of dementia.

Dance is an exercise in which we find ourselves to not only show physical effort but also mental and social effort as well. Need a break from homework but want to be physical to become more healthy mentally and physically? Put down your phone, video game controller and go dance.

Saddleback College Music student, Nick Schafman, currently enrolled in Choreography Dance 9, shared some personal insight of why he is taking this course.

“I’ve always loved… music and I’m taking this class, along with other great arts classes here at Saddleback College, to improve my musicality, rhythm and artistic expression. The class is very diverse and free-flowing in terms of allowing students to interpret dance however they want through whatever style they choose from classical to contemporary to hip-hop and so on,” says Schafman.

This Dance class is taught by Professor Deidre Cavazzi who received her Masters in Fine Arts from the University of California at Irvine. Cavazzi also completed her teacher training in Vinyasa Yoga through the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, with supplemental training through Duke University Integrative Medicine.

“Professor Cavazzi always offers a warm, gracious and supportive atmosphere in her class,” said Schafman. “She is incredibly understanding and fosters a safe, inclusive space for all of her students.”

Professor Cavazzi started her dance career at 4 years old. Which some might not know Cavazzi has battled with Scoliosis. She once wore leg braces in which she outgrew through physical therapy which included Ballet. Through this experience she has been able to gain a sense of freedom to overcome her health struggle but also be a wonderful example of self-love. She shares how the dance room to her is a place to be yourself and feel freedom.

Cavazzi is currently doing much research on how the arts correlates with other academic subjects. Not only does she believe that dance can be a great asset to one’s asset but it can also be a source for good health physically and mentally. Professor Cavazzi also teaches 12 other Dance courses on campus which include from Dance Production, Repertory I, Modern dance and others.
Many have felt that art in general along with education is not needed. As we see when it comes to dance and the mind it is very beneficial according to Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A neurologist by the name of Dr. Robert Katzman, involved in the college’s research, explained in detail on how the physical and mental activity of dance itself protects the human mind against the illness, dementia.

He compares any educational process as to that of learning or participating in dance. The mental stress of learning something new and actually physically applying it to one’s own actions could provide a barrier to protect one’s own cognition.

“The cerebral cortex and hippocampus, which are critical to these activities,” said Katzman. “Are remarkably plastic, and they rewire themselves based upon their use.”

Everytime the brain learns something new a new connection, might we say, is made. We learn something cognitively we are changed, if we act upon it through dance we are more changed in a way.

Dr. Katzman explains how the more we learn things the less memory we will lose as we age naturally. “The more stepping stones there are across the creek the easier it is to cross in your own style,” Katzman explains in an analogy.