By Margaret Maccoll
An afternoon of dance may sound like a bit of fun and it is but many are finding out about its wide-ranging benefits.
Andrew Hansen grew up going to country dances with his parents in Gayndah and dancing the night away himself as a young man but never imagined himself running dance classes decades later.
But 20 years ago he decided to return to the Old Time dance of his youth. He discovered New Vogue dancing had largely taken over the ballroom dance scene and he had to learn
quite a lot of new steps.
Dances such as The Pride of Erin had been replaced by the Gypsy Tap, Tangos and Swing Waltz.
Andrew was quick to pick up the sequence dances and when his dance teacher left to mind someone else’s goats on a NSW farm and didn’t return he quickly stepped into the role.
With an incredible memory for dance steps Andrew can recall and teach about 200 dances.
He began running classes at Tinbeerwah Hall, then Cooroy and for the past 10 years found the ideal location at the Tewantin Masonic Hall.
“I love it. It’s a good pastime,“ Andrew said.
Last Sunday as the afternoon light filtered through the north-facing windows of the Masonic Hall Andrew walked about a dozen couples through a series of dances before the music came on and away they went.
It was a diverse group that turned up for the first class of 2021. For one couple the dance class was their first visit, others were regular attendees and some were serious competitors.
“There are different people at different levels,“ Andrew said. “It’s a good fun thing to do. It’s the best exercise to ward off dementia.“
One participant agreed it was good for the brain, as well as good for the body, the posture and good fun. Another told how it had given him the confidence to be in the spotlight at dance competitions, an experience he would never have previously entertained.
The benefits of ballroom dance are backed up by a growing body of research.
A study by Abreu et.al. that appeared in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy explored the effects of dance, confirming its benefits to physical and mental health.
Several studies have explored the effects of dance on mental health, balance, fall risk, and function. Even individuals with serious mental illness have showed significant improvements in anxiety, depression, balance and confidence, led to reductions in the use of therapeutic doses of some psychotropic medications and improvements in mood, self-expression and mental processes.
While dance is rapidly being adopted as a medicine for better health for most of Andrew’s dancers on Sunday it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.Andrew’s dance classes are held on Sundays from 12.30pm at the Tewantin Masonic Hall, Moorindil Street, Tewantin. They can also be found Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 1pm at Woombye Hall and at Pomona every fourth Friday with a dance from 7pm on 22 January. Phone 0429 829 328 or visit www.andrewsclassdance.com