Article Dance Positivity in De Gelderlander: truly, everyone can dance at Introdans

25th April 2024

Truly, everyone can dance at Introdans. A step to the left, a step to the right, waving a hand to the music, it all fits. “I can’t dance.” Dance instructor Diana Vieira Alves from Introdans hears it all the time. With the course series Dans Positivity, the dance company proves the opposite.

by Anne Veens

ARNHEM | Diana Vieira Alves starts her class with a body scan. Breathing. Stretching. Taking a moment in the middle of the day to feel that you have a body. That you can tighten and relax your stomach. That your toes touch the ground and you can move them.
“We often forget about some parts of our bodies,” says Vieira Alves. “So, we first check in with ourselves. Just to be aware.”
This is the third year that the dance company Introdans has offered this course series, with the Silver classes for people over 60 and Wake Up, where participants learn to start the day dancing. Today, the third theme Body Positivity is up.

“Because we want people to experience that everyone can dance,” says Vieira Alves. “Whether you’re short, tall, thick, thin, young, old, experienced, or a beginner.” She often hears from people that they can’t dance. “Or at least, that’s what they think about themselves,” emphasizes Vieira Alves. “But that’s not true. Everyone can dance. It’s just inside you. Waving your hand or taking steps to the left and right to the music is also dancing. The bar doesn’t have to be endlessly high.”

Dancing enriches you mentally, says participant Ingrid Kooijman from Doesburg. She used to dance a lot, but hasn’t done it for a while. In the course series, she picks it up again. “The beginning of much more,” she says. “I feel sharper, clearer after the lessons. And I wake up feeling better.” Marianne Folmer from Valburg also finds it a good start to the day. “I take the lessons home with me. Often I repeat them in the morning. Just loosen up everything.” She loves that she not only learns dance steps but also gets space for other movements. Which apparently also fall under the category of ‘dance.’
“In a previous class, we were allowed to draw the dream we had had that night with our head in the air. Try that. It’s nice to go off the beaten path.”
Dancing also gives a memory boost, says Emma Verbrugge from Arnhem. As she approaches 70, she ‘notices that she’s getting older.’ “At home, I think, ‘how was it again? Did my foot, leg, or arm go first? I don’t always succeed. But I do get my brain working well.”

With dancing, you train balance and coordination, confirms Vieira Alves. “Repetition is the key in that. If you think after one try, ‘oh, that didn’t go well,’ you do it again next time. You’ll see that your body remembers the movements for you.”

The music starts again, and the students form a long line. One by one, they throw their arms in the air. Then they bend. And place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. Like one big organism.

“We managed that in ten minutes,” says Marlot Fliers from Nijmegen, glowing after the session. “It also gives a thrill. Like: hey, we’re creating something together that you can’t do alone.”

A nice bonus is that Introdans’s lessons are full of bits of choreography from their own performances. “This way, you can really feel the tempo and speed behind it,” says Fliers. “We do it just like the professionals,” says Petra Brons from Arnhem with a wink. “No difference at all!” The group laughs. “No, seriously, you can really express your feelings through it,” adds Brons.

The students in this series consciously dance without mirrors. Vieira Alves: “You don’t have to check yourself. You don’t have to worry about how it looks. It’s about how it feels.”

Isn’t that different from dancing at the top level, which Introdans is known for? “Yes and no,” she says. “Of course, in professional rehearsals, there’s much more focus on technique, and the dancers want everything to be perfect on stage.”

“But Introdans was founded 53 years ago with the aim of enriching the eastern Netherlands with dance. To connect people with it and not to exclude anyone. With this course series, we’re getting back to that core.”

The courses for this spring have concluded this month. The series will start again in early 2025.

I feel sharper, clearer after the lessons. And I wake up feeling better. – Ingrid Kooijman, participant

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