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Dance Your Stress Away

Sunny DanceBy Amber Zuckswert 

Even the most shy wall flowers and introverts have found themselves dancing around their bedroom (behind closed doors) in underwear, flipping their hair like a rocker and lip syncing in the mirror. It just feels SO good, so wild, free and fun. Why not?!  While some prefer bubble baths, candles and a great book to calm their nervous tension at the end of long week, others get their jollies by shaking out their frustration on the dance floor. I strongly believe this stems from the human need to escape the chattering mind full of worries, to-do’s and fear. Dance allows us all the opportunity to delve back into our bodies, turn off the brain for a bit, get creative, sweat, laugh and smile with our friends. Luckily, Manuel Antonio and Quepos are fantastic places to find your inner Shakira. 



Merengue is one of the most popular Latin dances in Costa Rica – it can be heard in almost every home, discotheque and radio station in the country. It has a two-step beat that features fast footwork and swaying hips. The man leads and usually holds the woman by her waist and right hand. Merengue is a tight dance, and couples move within a small circle; when steps are made in any direction, they only traverse the space of a few feet. 


Another popular local dance, salsa originated in Cuba and was influenced by mambo, Guaguanco and Afro-Caribbean beats. It blends quick steps with sensual movements in a three-step rhythm danced over each four-beat measure. As in most Latin dances, the man leads holding one or both of his partner’s hands. Experienced salsa dancers often employ complicated spins and intricate steps, which add panache to their dance. Like merengue, it is easy to find a club that plays salsa music.


Originating in Colombia, cumbia is one of Costa Rica’s favorite tropical rthyms. Drums and other percussion instruments create the pervasive cumbia beat, which plays out in a 4/4 rhythm structure of long-short-short-long. Cumbia is typically danced to the Colombian music of the same name; however, Costa Ricans make the cumbia all their own, dancing a cumbia beat to the steps of the “swing criollo.” Swing criollo mixes elements of the Lindy hop and jive to create bouncing steps and small kicks that are danced in a circle of complex footwork and fancy spins. This dance style is very Costa Rican and a source of national pride. 

Belly DanceBeyond the standard favorites you can also hop into group classes or private lessons in Tango, Bachata, Belly Dance, Zumba, and even Ballet and Contemporary Modern forms in town. All ages and levels of experience are welcome and encouraged. Drop into an adult belly dance class, while your kids take ballet at The Center for Epic Living. Take a private Salsa lesson in your villa. Sweat your worries away in Zumba at Spa Holis. Or bob your head to any live music you hear during your exploration of shops, bars and restaurants. Of course those who need to shake it to pop or reggae can hit up any of the local dance clubs or bars. Karma and Republik are two well known and loved local hot spots for late night dance marathons.  (insert belly dancer)

As Martha Graham so famously stated, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” So, whether you’re eager to shake your hips to reggeaton , or sculpt your body like an elegant ballerina, all that matters is that you dance. That you keep that language alive within you. That you allow yourself the freedom to express fully mind, body and spirit. 

AmberAmber Zuckswert is the founder of The Center for Epic Living in Manuel Antonio. She’s an internationally recognized pilates and yoga instructor, professional contemporary dancer, and holistic nutritionist from San Francisco, CA. Amber love nothing more than empowering others to create their most epic self and lifestyle through mindful movement and peak performance nutrition. Check out her daily schedule of classes, online programs, upcoming workshops, and wellness retreats with experts from all over the world here: www.epiclivingcenter.com and www.epicself.com


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