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History of Social Dance in America: Community Dances

with Mark Matthews

writer, historian, dance caller/instructor, officer with the Missoula Folklore Society, writing instructor at The University of Montana College of Technology

This program encompasses the gamut of fun and easy-to-learn community dances such as squares, contras and circles. During the instruction Matthews also explains the history behind the dances—focusing on how European and African styles of dance blended together in this country to form America's unique dance culture. In addition, dancing teaches children how to socialize, make eye contact, playfully interact with one another and respectfully touch one another. It also allows a chance to experience personal joy while having fun within a group—not to mention improving physical coordination and cardiovascular health, strengthening muscles, and relieving tension. National Public Radio recently reported that dancing in synchrony allows an individual to experience a feeling of congeniality that actually increases an individual's threshold for dealing with pain. Researchers think this is why so many cultures have developed synchronized dancing and why it might have other health benefits.