x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Time to delight in your feet

The club will be showcasing it’s star dancers at the Life and Style show at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi from December 5 to 7, and there will be opportunities for anyone to get up and join in with samba, Zumba and salsa.

Synthia Agudeto and Ajit Aggarwal, in the forefront, at Capella Club's Salsa class taught by Luis Gabriel Usma. Charles Crowell for The National
Synthia Agudeto and Ajit Aggarwal, in the forefront, at Capella Club's Salsa class taught by Luis Gabriel Usma. Charles Crowell for The National

More and more people in the UAE are using dance as a way to release stress, express themselves, get fit and make new friends. Dubai’s Capella Club, which just celebrated its first birthday, has a whopping 16 different styles of dance on offer, as well a range of other fitness activities. The club will be showcasing its star dancers at the Life & Style Show at Adnec in Abu Dhabi from Thursday to Saturday, offering opportunities for anyone to get up and join in with samba, Zumba and salsa. Here’s a breakdown of what the Capella Club has to offer.

Salsa

Salsa originated in Cuba but took on different styles in different parts of the world. That’s why there are Colombian, Costa Rican, Cuban, New York, Miami and Los Angeles forms of the dance. Luis Gabriel Usma, an instructor who has won the Salsa Cabaret Championship and came third in the World Latin Dance Cup, comes from Colombia but teaches LA-style salsa at the Capella Club. “Salsa LA is a kind of line dance and you usually move in a line from north to south, from one corner to another,” says the 31-year-old.

Tango

Usma also teaches couples and group classes of tango, which he says creates a very different mood. “I am more serious dancing tango, because it’s more about romance and sensuality. Tango is a small dance, but it’s one of the most complicated rhythms. Tango is all about technique and body expression. The couples have to learn to keep dancing in the same way, in tune with each other. “I know people in Dubai who get so stressed out in their jobs, but they come to our classes and they get rid of their stress by dancing it out. And they get to make new friends.”

Capoeira

Capoeira was developed in the 1500s by enslaved Africans in Brazil. Learning to fight and defend themselves was forbidden to those who were legally defined as property, so they would pretend they were dancing and singing in order to learn to kick and do acrobatics. “Most people still think of it as a dance, so we’re still doing a good job of disguising it,” explains the instructor Vikentiy Dyro, who goes by the capoeira name of Boto. “Capoeira is not only a martial-arts dance, it’s a very playful game; people form a circle and you take turns on musical instruments such as a drum, tambourine and cowbell. We also sing songs, so the students also get to learn some Portuguese in my classes.”

Flamenco

Flamenco is a form of Spanish folk music and dance from Andalusia in southern Spain, which incorporates singing, guitar playing, dancing and handclapping. The Spanish flamenco instructor Amalia Megias also performs her show Flamenco Emotions all over the world. “I teach flamenco and Sevillanas (flamenco with partners) during the class. People enjoy and start to understand, feel and love flamenco because it is a very passionate dance.”

Flamenco originated among gypsies in the 18th century and it is thought the word flamenco comes from the Hispano-Arabic word “fellah mengu”, meaning “expelled peasant”, referring to the ethnic Andalusian Muslims, who joined Roma gypsy groups to avoid religious persecution.

Pole fitness

Pole Fitness is a new fitness trend booming in the UAE. It combines dance and gymnastics and involves performing acrobatic stunts and choreographed routines with a vertical pole. The instructor Vlada Zhizhchenko, who began pole dancing in Moscow four years ago, says her students range in age from 18 to 60.

“Pole dancing is full of elegance, energy and femininity and it’s an extremely empowering form of exercise,” Zhizhchenko says. “It helps you lose weight, tone up and have fun while doing it. “Students build themselves up slowly, it takes a while before they can go upside down and suspend their whole body out with their arms, and all the crazy stuff I do. We have classes for total beginners as well as intermediate and advanced students.”

Belly Dancing

Belly dancing, which has different forms that originated in Egypt and Turkey, is good for preventing osteoporosis and spinal problems. Milla Tenorio of Brazil performed as a belly dancer in five-star hotels in Dubai for 10 years. Now, she loves watching the transformations in the ladies she teaches. “They find themselves beautiful and happy when dancing – it’s the moment they can really find themselves, no matter what shape they have. So we work on ladies’ self-esteem and confidence. It’s a very feminine class.”

Burlesque

Burlesque started in the 17th century in theatres as a form of comic parody and over the years has evolved into a dance and fashion made popular by modern burlesque dancers such as Dita Von Teese. Tenorio started teaching burlesque dancing a year ago after attending a burlesque school in Paris. “It’s been very successful and the ladies love it. It makes them feel beautiful and it’s a great workout. We dance to cabaret style songs from Broadway and Moulin Rouge.”

Samba

Samba is a dance form and musical genre made famous around the world by the Brazilian Rio Carnival. Tenorio admits that although it is popular in her native Brazil, she specialised in other dance forms for many years before attempting samba for the first time five years ago. Now she has fallen in love with it and has joined a samba group that performs all over the UAE and in other countries. “It’s a lovely kind of show, we dress up with feather boas, you do fast steps with your hips and feet to the sound of drums, it’s very dynamic,” she says.

• Capella Club will be at the Life & Style show from Thursday to Saturday, although most of the action will take place on Friday. Visit www.capella-club.com for the latest class schedule

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