LivingArts: Community Engagement Through Dance

We continue our series of LivingArts Hamilton blogs featuring guest writers from a variety of arts disciplines across the community. This week, we're pleased to welcome Florence I. Roullet who is one of the co-founders of Salsa Soul Productions, an organization that creates salsa dancing events in Hamilton. salsasoulproductions.com

 

Community Engagement through dance is an ancient concept.  In many cultures across the globe, community dancing has been a way to celebrate birth, death, a new home, a new season but also used to heal or to tell a story. Furthermore, it was an important activity to resolve conflicts and ease the social tensions1.

We hold hands, we make space, we share a moment and a smile. 

Social dancing contributes to an increase in physical fitness and decrease in stress hormone levels in the body and is currently studied to treat certain types of dementia.

But why is that?

Take a Mom carrying her baby. Ask the Mother to bounce gently with a certain frequency. If a stranger joins them and bounces either in synchrony with them or not, a little later when tested on a cooperating task, only the strangers who bounced in synchrony will be trusted by the baby2.

This observation published by McMaster Psychology research professor Laurel Trainor, suggests that our connection through movement and rhythm starts very early in life and is not just important for the well-being of the entertainment industry. Dancing with others may participate to reinforce the positive fabric of our social interactions in society.

Salsa on the Waterfront’ is an example of such a gathering in the city of Hamilton.

Five years ago, two friends and dancers Lisa Alfano and Florence Roullet stepped on the roller skating rink at the beautiful Pier 8 at the Hamilton’s waterfront with an idea: trade the blades for a salsa dance.

Today, their group SalsaSoul Productions runs the successful free summer event Salsa on the Waterfront, attended by thousands of happy people of all ages, sex, gender and cultural backgrounds.

We hold hands, we make space, we share a moment and a dance. 

 

- 1 Les mécanismes traditionnels de gestion des conflits en Afrique Subsaharienne. Niagalé Bagayoko & Fahiraman Rodrigue Koné – Rapport de recherche UQUAM
- 2 Rhythm and interpersonal synchrony in early social development. Laurel Trainor & Laura Cirelli Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1337 (2015) 45–52