Dr. Ari Levitt
New President John Martinka introduced the first program speaker of this Rotary year, Dr. Ari Levitt, physician and dancer. Dr. Levitt opened by tying his talk to John's motto for 2010-2011: He promised to be both relevant and irrelevant.
President John Martinka made the introduction.
Ari's dad was a surgeon, and he met his mom during his residency in Seattle. Mom was a folk dancer, and Ari inherited her love of dance. When Ari left Seattle for his undergrad work at Stanford, he got into social dancing – mostly as an avenue to meet the opposite sex. When he began medical school at the UW, he founded the only medical school dance program in the nation. He gained momentum by getting the nursing students involved, then the school of health sciences. For him, it was an outlet that maintained a healthy balance during the rigors of med school.
After the UW, he went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for his residency. There was no real social dancing opportunity there, so he started a dance program with the other people in his residency. They started with swing dancing, and they joined in with a band doing an opening act with the "Lindy Hop." Before they knew it, they had clothiers as sponsors and a "Rat Pack" groupie following, all dressed in zoot suits from the twenties.
BBRC members conduct dance experiments under the coaching of Dr. Ari Levitt.
During this time, Ari began to think about the impact of dance in maintaining a healthy balance in life. One example was his friend, Bob, a dentist who was a couple hundred pounds overweight, and who smoked and drank too much. Bob attended one of Ari's first classes. Over the next two years, Bob's life was transformed, and he lost over 150 pounds. He became a dance maven. The classes started with just a few dancers and became a hit. The second class included media. The third meeting had over 600 people.
In the years afterward, several from the Harrisburg group became pros and won national awards. Some even danced on Broadway. When Ari looks back, he reflects on the difference dancing made in these lives.
When he started in medicine, Ari already knew that he was going into a very imbalanced life. In advance, he wrote a treatise: "What is Wellness?"
To Ari, wellness is the holistic existence as a complete human being. There were four pillars in his treatise – the things that make us human:
- Developing mind and body
- Interpersonal connection with others
- Connecting with the community in the world around us
- Our spiritual side
How to keep all four of these balanced? In Ari's world, there is only one activity that embodies all four: dance.
Ari asserts that dance allows conversations that you can have without using words. It makes you more conscious of the energy of those around you. How well you learn to work together on the dance floor is an indicator of how well you develop to work well together off the dance floor.
He downplayed the effectiveness of the speed dating fad. He asserts that you can do a more effective interview by spending 30 seconds on the dance floor. Even inexperienced dancers emit an energy of how well they connect and interact.
President John Martinka thanks Ari Levitt and Whitney for their program.
To conclude his presentation, Ari led the club through a couple of dance experiments to see how well we could each communicate with a partner without using words. BBRC members stretched our comfort zones and exercised Ari's theories under his gentle coaching and reassuring words.
In sum, Ari helped kick off the new Rotary year with a program that was off the beaten path in a way that instilled energy and enthusiasm: many members were still talking about the experience all the way to the parking lot. It was a great start to a 4th of July weekend!
Check out more info on Ari Levitt at his website: www.rolluptherug.com