Hoops and dance can help brains and bodies

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NORWAY — In Nettie Gentempo’s Nevaeh Dance Studio at 290 Main Street,  styles of dance and performance have a home that hold a benefit for those who venture up.

Nevaeh offers everything from the classical visual arts of dance theater and ballet, to improv and juggling.

The “Hula Loops” class, for ages 8 to 13, is Wednesdays at 4 p.m. when a gaggle of young girls gather to learn to dance with a HULA-HOOP.

Gentempo says, “HULA-HOOPing brings much joy and happiness to those who participate. It also allows individuals to express themselves in a safe space.” Gentempo starts the music and leads the students through a warm up routine, turning as they keep their hoops twirling around their torsos.  They progress on through various techniques spinning the hoop in a myriad of directions that appear to contort around the body and entertain the participants; and they’re always moving.

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The free-form style of dance the class participates in has been reviewed by the American Council on Exercise which found hooping to keep a high heart rate with a moderately difficult level of exertion and recommend it as an exercise.    Hooping is finding mainstream recognition as a performance art and form of exercises, boasting practitioners such as Michelle Obama and Shaquille O’Neill. 

After drilling with fundamental motions and becoming further accustomed to the physics of the revolving hoop the students, (Gentempo pairs them up), use the techniques practiced earlier to choreograph a short segment of dance. 

The activity involved cooperative creativity and problem solving in addressing Gentempo’s barrier (they could not communicate in the first session); while maintaining a spinning hoop or two and dancing. 

Gentempo notes, “Dance and the performing arts provide a wonderful and beneficial creative outlet. I honestly don’t know what my own life would be like without it. My hope is that by providing the young students with these tools, they will be able to live happy and creative lives.”  Gentempo is considering a performance of the children’s studio in next year’s circus in the square event.

She and the other members of her dance circus perform with their hoops and props in a cohesive and fluid way, some dancers and performers describe a state of flow, similar to what professional athletes refer to as being “in the zone.”

Juggling, which is also offered at the studio taught by professional performer and circus member Steve Corning, similarly conceals an unexpected benefit.  In 2009 scientists at the University of Oxford documented the first examples of increasing gray and white matter in the brain, by teaching adults a new skill, one that Corning teaches Mondays at 4:30 p.m. – juggling.

abrown@advetiserdemocrat.com

HOOP DANCE — Students Garcia Leavitt and Adrianna Jeffery follow teacher Nettie Gentempo in learning some new techniques at the Nevaeh Dance Studio at 290 Main Street in Norway.

TA-DA! — Students Garcia Leavitt and Jaylynn Nyuyen, both 10-years-old, dance as partners during their original choregraphy segment at the end of a class at the Nevaeh Dance Studio in Norway. 

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