Dance and mental health

Dance/Movement makes mental health accessible to everyone

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Traditionally, resources focus on hotlines and 800 numbers that people can call if/when they feel like they have nowhere to turn for support. What about support for people who cannot speak? Do their mental health needs not matter? While not everyone can speak, everyone can move in some way, shape or form. 

Whether it is through eye movements, breathing or our heartbeat, the potential for movement as a form of expression is possible for everyone. Dance and movement is a form of communication, and for those whose language skills are compromised, not yet developed or inaccessible, that form of communication can make all the difference between having hope and feeling hopeless.  

pushy parents

Dance teachers: What to do about pushy parents

Teachers, directors, let us bow our heads for a moment and think about that time… that time before studio life, that time before ordering costumes, cleaning mirrors, filing business taxes, and that blissful time before pushy parents! We absolutely adore our students, and appreciate their incredible parents, but sometimes they just don’t understand, and we have to work together to make sure the dance can go on. 

Here, two of BDC’s amazing instructors who teach multiple genres all over the NYC area, as well as two studio owners from across the nation, explain how they best handle a range of scenarios that come up with parents. We hope that their sage advice can give you some new ideas and support.

dancers principles for life

Beyond the studio: 3 dance principles that apply to life

As dancers, we have acquired a certain skill set that is often overlooked outside of the dance studio. Principles like balance, coordination and flexibility seem to come with the territory, but just like everything else, they take practice.

While not everyone identifies as a dancer, these elements of dance can apply to everyone. No matter how much or how little dance experience one may have, these principles are universal and may help you the next time you find yourself at a crossroads, in a rut or needing to make a major life decision.  

Earth Day.

Earth Day: You can make a difference!

The past five years have been the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Additionally, there are currently 150 million metric tons of plastic waste in the oceans that affect 700 species, with an additional eight million metric tons being added to the ocean every year, according to the Ocean Conservancy3. The plastic island in the ocean is real.

Young people and students are leading the charge to combat climate change and make the tough decisions that reduce negative human impact on the environment. Just this past March, an estimated 1.4 million students from 123 countries walked out of school and stormed the streets to demand action from global leaders1,2. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg had strong words for world leaders at the UN Summit on Climate Change.

healing power of dance

The healing power of dance: talking about it isn’t enough

Sarah* entered the studio eager to move but very aware that dance, which once brought her joy, was very difficult to engage in or initiate. I invited her to merely walk around the space and explore her connection to her movement and body. She began to walk quickly with intensity and a bound energy in her upper torso. I asked her to identify how she felt in this walk, to which she replied, “This is what I do. I push through things and just keep going. This feels familiar, but I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to move forward, but I’m not sure what that looks like or how to do that mindfully and in a healthy way.”  

I invited her to find different ways to walk through the room. Sarah began to walk backward. She mentioned that this actually felt safe and that she could trust herself. She then began to move sideways and slowly began to roll her shoulder with each step. When asked what this movement represented, she said, “My creativity.” This sparked a discussion about her connection to creativity. She was discouraged from indulging her creative side and made to feel like she was an outcast and the black sheep of the family. She didn’t allow herself to be creative.  

dancing with friends

Want to be a better person? Just dance!

You may have heard that dancing is good for your brain, and we know that it is good for your body, but did you know that engaging in dance can actually make you a better person? How is that possible? You might be asking, “What if I cannot dance?” I’m here to tell you that it is possible for everyone, even if you have two left feet.

First, it is important to define or re-define dance. According to Wikipedia, “Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture.” I encourage you to put that definition aside and focus on dance as an “inherent form of expression.” Put on some music, and you will quickly see that you have a natural tendency to move to it. Dance, since the beginning of time, has been a physical outlet for celebration, grief, prayer and so much more.  

self care for dancers

Self-care tips from ALMA NYC

On January 14, ALMA NYC hosted a wellness seminar at Broadway Dance Center. The seminar featured a five-person panel of nutrition, fitness, life-coaching and holistic living specialists. The afternoon focused on the meaning of self-care, a concept that has become a very trendy topic in today’s society.   

Foods for Winter Health

4 ways to boost winter nutrition and immune function

During winter months, it’s more important than ever to maximize your nutrient intake to strengthen your protective immune defenses. You don’t have to go buy a bunch of expensive products to be your best. 

Here are some tried and tested immune boosters perfect for a dancer’s budget.  

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Get warm and stay warm for healthy and stretchy dancing

Brrrr… baby, it’s cold outside! You’ve still got to get warm and stay warm before you really get moving, but it feels so much harder when it’s like Frosty and the elves had a little too much fun outside. Fortunately, it’s easy with a few tips, and you’ll be ready to burn up the studio! 

First, though, what does it even mean to warm up? Is it just a few stretches and go? Nope. You need to literally warm up your body from the core out to your fingers and toes, and the way to do this is to move around enough to get your heart rate and your breathing rate to increase. If you’ve broken a sweat, you’ve hit gold. Here are some of our tips for getting warm and preventing injury.