By Shabana Ansari

What is the best thing you can do when you are unhappy, stressed out, and not feeling great about yourself or the world in general?

“Join a dance class!” says Nubia Cermeño who is a great believer in “dance therapy” and the power of music to heal the body and mind.

“Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to get and stay in shape. Besides being fun, moving our bodies to music has many positive health benefits. Depending on your goals, a dance class is a fun way to not only improve your health but also a great opportunity to meet new people.”

Nubia, a settlement counsellor at the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI), is a certified dance instructor. A graduate in Fine Arts, she has been conducting dance classes for newcomers every Friday for the last eight years. What has kept her going all these years is the difference she is making in the lives of her clients.

“Someone once told me that my dance class is the highlight of her week. I haven’t looked back since then!”

In her work with CCI, Nubia meets immigrants and refugees who have left behind difficult or horrific lives. “However, things aren’t easy for them in Canada either, at least initially when they are still struggling to survive in a new environment.”

What started as an experiment to provide immigrant and refugee women with an activity that would help them forget their problems for at least a little while, has evolved into a fun event where people of all genders, shapes and sizes meet weekly to dance to Latin, Arabic and even Bollywood music!

“In fact, many women who work at our partner organizations in the same building also attend my dance class.”

Nubia’s advice to newcomers trying to cope with emotional issues is to take one step at a time. “The process of settling and integrating in a new country is long and slow. And one way to keep it all together is through dance and music.

“Studies have shown that exercise and socializing with friends can contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook toward life. And joining a dance class has many benefits – it increases self-confidence, builds social skills, reduces stress and tension, and eventually leads to an active and fit body.”

Nubia shares not just dance moves but also fitness, nutrition and grooming tips with her motley group. “We talk about everything – from how to feel good by exercising and eating right to how to look good by dressing well and grooming hair or nails.”

Nubia leads a full and busy life as a social worker, dancer, teacher, artist, community volunteer and poet – her book of poems will be released later this year – and insists she loves finding solutions to people’s problems, no matter what they are.

“I’ve been working with CCI for the last 13 years and I can say that it is the best job I’ve ever had. And I am constantly looking for ways to involve people in their community even outside of work.”

So, how does she cope with stress and burnout in her own personal and professional life?

“I dance! Sometimes by myself, alone in my own home!”

To register for the dance class, please contact Nubia Cermeño at 613-232-9634, ext. 306 or just drop in:

WHEN: Fridays

TIME: 5:30 to 6:30 P.M.

LOCATION: 219 Argyle Avenue, rooms 113/114