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Dancing ‘better than a psychiatrist’ says shire folk group
By Jim Gainsford
July 5, 2015

 Dancing 'better than a psychiatrist'

Good for the spirits — and body: Sutherland Shire Folk Dance Group members Kaye Laurendet and Lorraine Crane (centre, foreground) with (from left) Fiona Clark, Bert Laurendet, Paul Clark, Judith Connolly and Joan Gillies (right). Picture: Chris Lane

SUTHERLAND Shire Folk Dance Group members believe they are proof dancing is good for you — mentally and physically.

The folk dancers, who celebrated the 40th anniversary of their group on June 13, have been the subject of a university study and two ABC TV reports on the health benefits of dancing.

One of the ABC television reports, on preventing Alzheimer’s disease, showed the group’s members demonstrating how dancing could improve memory.

“Dancing involves mind and body,” said group teacher Kaye Laurendet.

“A lot of people come dancing instead of going to a psychiatrist.

“They laugh their troubles away while they are dancing.”

The folk dance group started in the early 1970s when Basil and Iris Butler and Kaye and Bert Laurendet were attending a folk dance class at Sydney University’s gym.

Mr Butler began thinking of starting a class in the shire where both couples lived.

The first class was held at Caringbah High School in 1975 with 16 people attending, and the group performed in public for the first time at the opening of Sutherland Entertainment Centre.
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The group was also selected in 2011 to be part of an ABC television report on a research project on falls prevention run by Dr Dafna Merom from the University of Western Sydney and Sydney University.

“The show was aired in January 2012 and as a result, we had our biggest single influx of new members from viewers who were keen to start dancing,” Mrs Laurendet said.

“All of these members have stayed with us.”

The group was asked in 2014 to be a sample group for a research project which was hoping to prove that folk dancing helped improve the memory; it was shown on the 7.30 Report.

“The age range of our dancers is from 50 to 86 years but we are always looking for younger or older members,” Mrs Laurendet said.

“It’s purely recreational. There’s no competition. It is all fun.”

Classes: Gymea Scouts hall, 6.30pm Tuesdays, and 10am Thursdays; Como Girl Guides hall, 9.30am and 11am Wednesdays. Details: 9528 4813