Article at by Jessica Ullian: This Flamenco Teacher Uses Dance To Help Rebuild The Brain

Read Yosi Karahashi's new interview at the Dance Complex blog.

Flamenco Therapy: the healing power of music, rhythm, and dance.

We can all relate to music and dance. They are part of what make us human. Music and dance relieve us from stress, improve our mood, and make us feel loved and connected to one another.
Flamenco Therapy brings this healing power to those who need it the most: the elderly, the sick, and children who cannot access music and dance themselves.

What is Flamenco?

Flamenco is a Spanish art form whose roots can be traced to Andalusia. Flamenco combines singing, guitar playing, dance, vocalizations, and, percussion with instruments (e.g., castanets, cajon) or palmas/hand clapping, pitos/finger snapping, golpe/knocking on surfaces or the body). About 50 different palos (musical forms) can be created using a base-12 rhythmic count.

What is Flamenco Therapy?

Through the uniqueness of the Flamenco music form, Flamenco Therapy:

  • can improve motor coordination and cognitive functioning
  • can have a positive impact on emotional well being
  • promotes the development of community and socialization between the artists and the audience
  • may have a positive impact on mood and cognitive ability (e.g., visual perception) through the use of color, as demonstrated in dementia population

In nursing homes, we see first hand how flamenco therapy sessions allow patients to display their emotions. Their eyes focus and brighten, their faces become expressive, and they begin to move their hands and fingers, beating on the table to make sounds and rhythm. The flowers in their souls begin to bloom again. A very beautiful moment.

Options for therapeutic sessions include:

  • 15-minute exercise program using flamenco rhythm, music and dance including a short flamenco demonstration. For people with reduced mobility, we will bring flamenco to them.
  • We can also provide a 45-minute live performance with singer, guitarist and dancer at healthcare facilities (e.g., independent living communities, nursing homes, hospitals).

Who benefits from Flamenco Therapy?

We bring flamenco therapy to those who need it most, the elderly, sick, or children, who can not access music and dance themselves.

Where we work

Senior centers, nursing facilities, assisted living, rehabilitation hospitals.

How can we measure the impact of flamenco therapy on patients?

Numerous studies demonstrate the therapeutic impact of music in treating neurologic diseases and injuries and psychiatric illness , yet the mechanism by which music acts remains unclear. While we believe that using flamenco movements, rhythms, and music improves mood, motor skills, and emotional well being, to be able to consider "Flamenco Therapy" a true therapy we need scientific analysis.

We want to work with doctors and researchers who are interested in measuring the effectiveness of flamenco therapy on improvement of motor skills, mood, and emotional well being.

Upcoming events

Flamenco Therapy Workshop Series: Jan 4 - March 29, 2019

Friday 11:00 am - 12:15 pm at Cambridge Citywide Senior Center.
* The third Friday on the each month class will take place at the Dance Complex.

  • 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Movement, choreography.
  • 12:00 pm - 12:15 pm: Castanets.

Flamenco Therapy joins the all in one program with Ms. Kara Fili and The Dance Complex which provides "senior citizens" (as a person over the age of 60 with a wide range of emotional, physical and learning disabilities) a specialized, fun and engaging flamenco experience.

Please note that you do not have to be resident of Cambridge to participate, but membership at the center is required to take classes there. Membership is offered to anyone over 60 and registration is free and easy to do! Call (617) 349-6060 for more info on becoming a member.

Our Art of Dance classes incorporate elements of meditation, yoga, modern, jazz, flamenco and African diasporic dance among other modalities to promote holistic wellness and social engagement through dance. Designed for people over age 60 or people with mobility challenges, we adapt movement to suit our individual bodies. Care partners, family members and friends of anyone wanting to participate are also welcome to join the class.

Cost: $3 / class for classes held at CCSC; free third Friday of each month when class is held at The Dance Complex.