Going Zumba

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, June 7, 2014


I WENT to buy groceries at a mall the other Sunday and found a crowd that early in the day at the main entrance dancing. The dancers in daily get-ups were mostly young and female. But there were those of other sizes, ages and weights. They were dressed like they were patrons of the usual grocery items. But they looked mesmerized by the music and the dance.
I paid special attention to the dance of a huge woman who rocked, rolled and swayed with all her might, enjoying it seemingly beyond words.

They all danced as though they were enthralled in the moment by a simple band. I wanted to dance the dance that I know since there seemed to have been no strict rules to the steps and the swing-and-swish of the body.
“C’mon, dance!” I almost heard myself yell but actually didn’t, it was only in my mind, to dance what? I looked at the smiling, laughing crowd who themselves were moving quietly where they started to dance in oomphs and more oomphs. The beat went from the hip-hop to the Latin beat, and to what?

From where I stood as part of the audience at the entrance, I could start with cha-cha, or rumba? Yes, why not more of the heart-thumping Latin beat? Salsa, too, or simple mambo? These are all in the contagious package of a workout dance which also sends a sense of joy to the body and the heart.

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That’s Zumba dance, ma’am, said Hanz, an officemate. And it is rumba, pop, mambo, salsa, calypso, name it! The Zumba dance is the promise of fun in workouts. It’s a workout session turned into a dance party.

When it’s a dance or a song in the air, Filipinos quickly catch on.
They’re zumba dancing in the malls, in the workout places, in aerobics classes, even just alone in the room in a beginner’s exercise using the training one gets with the help of the Internet. It is a blend of dancingest Latin of then and now, and world music. Happily, the dancers lose weight, burning major calories singing with the sway and shake of the body.

The Zumba dance could be a world peace offering of man, turning him healthy and friendly. Especially the Filipino who loves to dance and sing anywhere, or in the streets in festivals and in rituals. Or even in the offering of love in the serenade in rural communities. In the cities, Cebuanos even have the dancing traffic cop and the Cebu dancing inmates. But come to think of it, it’s said thee’s also the sort of “fit dance” in the Pentagon in the US.

In cyber space, haven’t you seen the national dance, Tinikling, performed in the Zumba beat?

An English journalist puts it this way: Zumba is not just dancing—“it’s a life choice.”

The idea of turning a workout into an international dance is catching on world wide. It started in the ‘90s with an aerobics teacher in Colombia who one day forgot to bring his usual aerobics sounds to his aerobics classes, so that he improvised and used what he had in the car to give rhythm to the exercises. He mixed the use of the Latin beat—salsa and merengue—into the aerobics exercise and it worked happily.

Aerobics teacher Beto Perez left Colombia for Miami in the US and brought his Zumba idea with him to Americans who fell for it.

And now, the Zumba dance is “taking the US by storm.” There are also now 20,000 instructors in 35 countries. UK is catching on, even as Filipinos are into it in training classes and parties and mall presentations throughout the country.

It’s nice to know that music and dance—keeping a person healthy in the dash of joyful push and pull of the body—catches on with the world, instead of bad temper and egocentrical show in border quarrels.

Author William Shakespeare said the man with “no music in himself” is set for “treasons, stratagems, and spoils.” (ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 08, 2014.

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