Leslie Hyll hasn’t been a folk dancer her entire life, but pretty close.
“I started coming when I was 12, with my parents and my younger sister,” Hyll said. “I walked in and immediately had 20 new sets of grandparents,” she added with a smile.
Half a century later, Hyll is still an active member of the Miami Valley Folk Dancers and excitedly shares her love of dance as chairperson of the organization that is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
“Folk dancing is an opportunity to exercise while learning about other cultures,” she said. “It gives me a window into other parts of the world.”
It also introduced her to her husband Edmund, whom she met and later married at the club.
The Miami Valley Folk Dancers hope to introduce others to dance at the upcoming Balkan Dance Workshop with instructor Michael Ginsburg on July 30 and 31 at the Michael Solomon Pavilion in Dayton. Ginsburg has been teaching Balkan folk dance around the world for the past 55 years.
“It’s a beginner-friendly event and you don’t need a partner,” Hyll said. “It will be a lot of fun.”
Fun is just one of the many benefits of dance, especially for older adults – most the club’s active members are in the 50 to 80 age range. Dance has been found to have a positive impact on balance, flexibility, muscle function and overall strength.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dancing also has cognitive benefits for older adults as a CDC-funded study showed improvement in memory, attention and focus among participants. And then there is the social aspect.
“The friendships and camaraderie are so important to me, and I get exercise,” said Dolores Brooks, a longtime member of the Miami Valley Folk Dancers. “It’s good for my overall health and well-being.”
Brooks started dancing with the club when she was in her late 40s and working full-time. The impact of the classes was noticeable.
“Sometimes I’d be so tired after work, but being at dance just energized me,” she said. “It had a miraculous effect on my energy level.”
After almost three decades with the Miami Valley Folk Dancers, Brooks still gets excited to slip on her dancing shoes.
“Most of us like to learn new dances, it’s fun learning new things,” she said. “And I love the music and learning about different cultures.”
The upcoming workshop is not the only opportunity to take to the dance floor with the Miami Valley Folk Dancers. They offer weekly Thursday night dances for beginners and experienced dancers. For more information, visit www.miamivalleyfolkdancers.org.
Balkan Dance Workshop
What: Miami Valley Folk Dancers-sponsored Balkan dance workshop with instructor Michael Ginsburg. Participants can register for individual sessions or the entire weekend.
When: Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31
Where: Michael Solomon Pavilion, 2917 Berkley St. (Community Golf Course), Dayton
More info: Visit www.miamivalleyfolkdancers.org.
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