NU alumna Dr. Coco Cabrel teaches dance and meditation to boost mental health amid pandemic


Courtesy of Coco Cabrel. Photo by Collin Quinn Rice (Communication ‘15).

Coco Cabrel (Feinberg ’85, ’89) is a doctor, Reiki master and flamenco choreographer. She started offering guided meditation and dance classes to students at the start of quarantine.

Skye Swann, Reporter

Reiki energy healing master and flamenco dance choreographer Coco Cabrel (Feinberg ’85, ’89) is offering guided meditation and dance classes to help students minimize stress during quarantine.

MeditationTales is a collection of recorded, self-narrated, guided meditations that can help improve sleep, focus or mood, and is targeted at students that struggle to focus or maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

These story-like meditations are relatable and enjoyable for students, Cabrel said, compared to the common form of mindful meditation which focuses on staying still and being aware of one’s body. She said this entertainment gives people the opportunity to refocus their mind and find relief from external stressors like the pandemic.

“I want people to know we are in this for the long haul and we are in this together,” said Cabrel.

As a former dual-degree engineering and music undergraduate student, Feinberg second-year Neha Reddy said she admired how Cabrel incorporated her love for science and flamenco dancing into her career.

Reddy reached out to Cabrel after attending her presentation on guided meditation at the 2019 Feinberg Alumni Weekend. Reddy’s message prompted Cabrel to start MeditationTales.

Cabrel’s presentation inspired Reddy to continue pursuing music and find ways to connect with students who hold similar interests. She added Cabrel’s support and encouragement has been “very helpful” in her journey.

Cabrel is also offering virtual flamenco classes. Since childhood, Cabrel said she has been living a “dual life” between dance and medicine, and performing is very important in her life.

“Flamenco dancing allowed me to explore my dark emotions in a safe way and come out healed,” Cabrel said. “As a dance professor, I’ve been able to use my emotional victories and provide it for my students in return.”

Cabrel holds weekly classes via Zoom and posts recordings of the classes on her website so students can rewatch the dances at their leisure. This feature has benefitted many students as they go back and practice parts of the lesson before the next class, she said.

Intermediate flamenco student Sharon Banaszewski said these classes help take her mind off the pandemic and connect with more people.

The flamenco classes have fostered a connection outside of dancing, Banaszewski said, and she feels the pandemic allowed her to reconnect with her passion for flamenco.

“The group has created a certain amount of support through the classes and it is inspiring to see people branching out,” Banaszewski said.

Cabrel is starting to offer more guided meditation and flamenco classes to help students during the pandemic. She said she feels that people are wanting more guidance with their mental health.

“In the alone times, when there is nobody to talk to, students can listen to a guided meditation and find solace from that,” said Cabrel. “You can feel good, feel peace and feel uplifted enough to keep going.”

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