The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - CAROLYN BARBER

Line danc­ing isn't just fun, it's good for the brain too. Just ask Nancy Greene.

Imag­ine a rural com­mu­nity hall packed with the hap­pi­est peo­ple on earth, danc­ing in syn­chrony into the wee hours. That was the Ma­sonic Hall in Bad­deck at 2am on October 1.

From Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, Bad­deck played host to 120 line-dance en­thu­si­asts from Cape Bre­ton, New Eng­land and ev­ery­where in between. Tick­ets for the Cape Bre­ton Line Dance Frolic sold out at the end of Au­gust.

“There hasn’t been an event like this in 20 years. I fig­ured it was about time for one,” said event or­ga­nizer Nancy Greene while tak­ing a short break from the ac­tion on Sept 30. Greene is an avid line dancer and in­struc­tor at Black Rock Line Danc­ing in Big Bras d’or.

Line-danc­ing is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­nais­sance. The dance form has evolved be­yond its stereo­typ­i­cal coun­try-western roots. The re­cent frolic fea­tured mod­ern pop, jazz, blues, Celtic and Latin mu­sic with only a few coun­try tunes thrown in the mix. It’s also pop­u­lar else­where in the world. Eng­land is host to the an­nual Crys­tal Boots Awards. Tick­ets to next year’s award cer­e­mony are al­ready sold out. Dur­ing a line-dance, peo­ple move in sync to chore­ographed pat­terns of move­ment set to mu­sic. Pat­terns are chal­leng­ing for novice dancers but peo­ple quickly catch on. Jean­nette Mo­raw­iecki of Big Bras d’or also took part in the frolic. She be­gan line-danc­ing at Black Rock five years ago at the age of 60. Now she leads the group on oc­ca­sion.

“It re­ally helps with mo­bil­ity. Once you start get­ting into it and learning more ad­vanced dances, it ex­er­cises your brain and mem­ory. I no­tice a dif­fer­ence. It sharp­ens you up.”

Mo­raw­iecki’s ob­ser­va­tion is backed by sci­ence. Neu­roimag­ing stud­ies re­veal that learning and mem­o­riz­ing dance moves re­quires coordination amongst dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the brain. The brain’s cir­cuitry strength­ens as it learns and masters pat­terns, en­hanc­ing motor skills in the process. Dance ther­apy is now pre­scribed to de­men­tia pa­tients to slow its pro­gres­sion.

Greene un­der­stands the cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits of dance first­hand. Dur­ing child­hood, she was shy and had dif­fi­culty re­triev­ing words when speak­ing. Her dys­lexia went un­di­ag­nosed un­til af­ter she com­pleted univer­sity; how­ever, she be­lieves an early start in dance helped her brain re­wire it­self enough for her to at­tend univer­sity.

Greene also suf­fered a brain in­jury in a car ac­ci­dent 14 years ago. In­stincts told her that the danc­ing’s fluid mo­tion would help her re­cov­ery in ways that her phys­io­ther­apy regime could not.

“I re­ally wasn't get­ting any bet­ter un­til I started danc­ing. It was a real struggle for me, at first, to dance. I had no mem­ory what­so­ever. Now, I lead classes. I can re­mem­ber dozens and dozens of dances, and have them as­so­ci­ated with the mu­sic, and it’s al­ways im­prov­ing.”

Greene and her hus­band, a fel­low line-dancer, are soon headed south for the win­ter but will re­turn in late spring. Any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing Nancy’s line-dance class next year can email black­rock­linedanc­ to be alerted when classes be­gin.

Louis Moniz Jr. of Maine, bet­ter known as “Mad Louie” leads the 11am line-dance crowd to the coun­try mu­sic tune “Va­ca­tion”. Photo by An­drew Brooks / The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard.

Roy Gar­diner and Nancy Greene run Black Rock Line Danc­ing and were the or­ga­niz­ers of the re­cent Cape Bre­ton Line Dance Frolic in Bad­deck. Photo by An­drew Brooks / The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard.

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