Cuban Dance Group Improves the Elderly’s Quality of Life

Dance group Futuro mainly performs at nursing homes and cultural spaces in Havana.  Photo: Taken from Facebook

Made up of 16 women, the Futuro group based in Guanabacoa promotes dance as a means to contribute to healthy aging.

By IPS-Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – Practicing and enjoying dance as an expression of life, union, love and a desire to live amongst the elderly is one of the premises of dance group Futuro, which belongs to the Rita Montaner Cultural Center, in Havana’s Guanabacoa municipality.

Made up of women between 69-80 years old, the group is also promoting physical exercise as a safeguard for healthy aging, as well as breaking down barriers in a positive way, thereby contributing to the dancers’ wellbeing and spiritual growth.

This is what dance instructors Maria del Carmen Guerra and Sandra Alfonso had to say, who are responsible for choreographing the dances, while also trying to uphold “an atmosphere of love, solidarity and cooperation that is prioritized in the group.”

A love story

Created in October 2012, dance group Futuro now has 10 years under its belt of continuous work and is an important reference today for the cultural practices that can be adopted to guarantee a full and active life for the elderly.

Benita Barcelo (74 years old) proposed the formation of this group and was supported by dance instructors at the Rita Montaner Cultural Center. The project managed to bring grandmothers who had been dancers with others who hadn’t ever danced up until that point.

This project slowly materialized, and Barcelo says that “it has become a group that is a family first. We all get on really well. Everything has been a blessing, because there is love, respect and we all have a great desire to live.”

The founder of this group says that it has given her “new hopes for living.” Plus, she says: “After being a housewife in a marriage that has lasted over 50 years, I never thought I’d be able to do what I’m doing now. I’ve learned to dance.”

Talking about the work of these two instructors, she stresses the “love, patience and understanding they have with us.”

On the other hand, she points out the opportunities the group has had to perform their work at many theaters across the country. “We’ve even gone to the city of Trinidad (located in Sancti Spiritus, a province in the center of Cuba) to represent Havana province, as well as many other beautiful experiences. Life has given us a gift and we’re enjoying it,” she points out.

You live a better life from dancing

Expert sources say that dance is an exciting and social way to exercise the body. It contributes to better blood circulation and strengthens bones and muscle, while also being an excellent way to encourage human relationships because of the interaction it requires.

These factors are essential for the communion of interests that are encouraged by Futuro dance group. Instructor Sandra Alfonso says: “These grandmothers have the strength, enthusiasm and desire to put on a first-class show themselves.”

According to founder Hilda Vignier (72 years old), dancers get “great information about the techniques used in different kinds of dance and the advantages this brings, because with every moment of our body, we get a release of positive energy that we need to feel good, no matter what our age.”

Gloria Peñalver (80 years old), the oldest member, is proud to be the “pioneer of the group”, and that even though she isn’t dancing right now because of health reasons, she longs for the moment she will be able to again, as “this project perfectly understands the emotional needs of each member.”

Meanwhile, Magdalena Arias (73 years old) says: “as we have to memorize different choreographies, the mind is forced to keep on moving and gets better every day.”

Since 2018, dance group Futuro has won the national category of Relevante, awarded by the National Council of Cultural Centers, at the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

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