Online dance classes sweep Cuba during COVID-19 outbreak

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/5/12 18:43:40

Cuban dancer Adrian Sanchez trains on the rooftop of his house in Havana on April 21. Photo: AFP

Music and a bottle of water to stay refreshed amid Cuba's excruciating heat is all what Annete Garcia needs to forget about the COVID-19 pandemic, at least for one hour a day.

The 22-year-old university student, in black joggers, a white T-shirt and a pair of red tennis shoes, has found online dance therapy classes a productive way to kill her free time while staying in her apartment located in Cerro, a district of Cuba's capital Havana.

"Instead of watching TV series or movies all day long from bed, I prefer getting into dance therapy to lose some weight and keep healthy during the lockdown," she tells the Xinhua News Agency.

"Music makes me fly."

Like Garcia, hundreds of people in Havana and elsewhere are taking part in the dance therapy classes taught by Daniel Perez and Briant Ravelo, students at Manuel Fajardo University of Sciences of Physical Culture and Sport, who have turned a rooftop terrace in Havana into a dance ground.

"We usually produce a video including different dance moves and instructions. Then, we post it on social media to be shared with Cubans and people around the world," says Perez.

Perez and Rovelo are members of the "Live More" project, which was first founded in 2017 with the purpose of empowering people through sports practice and physical culture.

"We can help people reduce stress amid the health emergency crisis while enjoying the contagious rhythms of Cuban music. The internet has been fundamental in spreading our work," says Ravelo.

Research conducted by the Juan Marinello Cultural Center in Havana found that music is the top choice for how Cubans spend their leisure, in a country boasting more than 20 native music genres.

Cuban musicians and cultural institutions nationwide have joined a global initiative to perform online concerts during the coronavirus outbreak.

Aixar Hernandez, leader of "The Express of Cuba" salsa music band, says dance therapy provides people with the opportunity to shake parts of their bodies they do not usually move when working at the office or staying at home.

"We do not stretch our arms, shake our hips or rotate our shoulders unless we dance. Cuban music has very much contributed to the spirit of dance therapy worldwide," he says.

Dance therapy gained ground in Europe back in the 1970s and spread to Latin America and the Caribbean where it merged with local cultures.

A national competition of dance therapy held in Cuba annually gathers thousands of people from across the country's 168 municipalities.

Cuban doctor Leonel Suarez, who worked for nearly a decade at Manuel Fajardo University, says that dance therapy helps people protect themselves from diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and Alzheimer's disease.

So far, Cuba has reported 77 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,783 confirmed cases.

As gyms and sports centers keep shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cubans will continue to turn to digital platforms for dance therapy classes until life returns to normal.

"People can lose between 500 and 1,000 calories in a session," Suarez says. 

"Sports and dancing is of the essence for Cuban people."

Newspaper headline: Art therapy


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