“Dance for the Health of It” makes its conference debut

Braving the onslaught of the latest COVID surge, the Mississippi Health Disparities Conference 2021 successfully pulled off a full-day of presentations yesterday at the Mississippi Coliseum complex in Biloxi. Attendees were required to mask more-or-less continuously, and as far as I could tell, compliance was excellent. Kudus to the undaunted organizers, colleagues at USM who form the foundation of the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (MSINBRE).

I delivered one of the closing sessions, first offering nearly 40 participants a brief background overview of the Dance for the Health of It initiative, including its influence sources, vision, and major components (more on all of this in a later post). But the meat of the moment was movement – specifically, getting people on their feet for “instruction,” followed by individual imitative practice (fortunately, the room was gigantic, positively cavernous; no touching, too risky!), organized around four essential social dance “step” elements – (1) walking steps, (2) box step, (3) triple step, and (4) rock step. For each element, I demonstrated how the four steps, either alone or in a simple combination, form the basis for a plethora of popular smooth and rhythm dances – including Foxtrot, 2-Step, Merengue, Waltz, Rumba, Polka, Swing, Salsa, Samba, and Cha-Cha. A selection of music helped inject the right “feel” for each dance style.

It was, in the best sense of the term, a “riot.” A lot of laughter, and a lot of hip action (Latin motion is ever popular!). Just the way to close a sober meeting on a sober subject in sober times. A time when touching another person in a social dance frame is, sadly, a risky venture. Damn. Damn the virus. Damn Mississippi’s low rate of vaccination.

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