This is me with one of my students. I am handing her a Certificate for completion of her dance class, and a gift.
I have been a dance instructor for more than 20 years. I have worked with individuals of all ranges of ability, age and styles of dance. The uniqueness of dance is, not only an art form, it is also a sport. This activity has multiple benefits for everyone, regardless of ability and age. It is fun, expressive and a great way to stay healthy.
Personally, dance has allowed me to express myself in ways that, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to. When I am dancing, I feel free, alive and fulfilled. For me, dance is a wonderful way to release stress and lift my mood. The wonderful thing about dance is I get to share it with my daughter. From the ripe age of 2 years old, she was completely connected to it, serious and focused in learning all she could. It consumed her every waking, and sleeping, moment. Now that she is older, she works along side of me, assisting in instructing dance. Instructing dance has been such a joy, sharing this love of dance with others and witnessing its blossoming effect!
In all my years instructing, the most rewarding has been working with special needs children. The heart and determination of special needs children cannot possibly shine more than when they are dancing! Each child wanting so much for their bodies to do what they imagine it to do, fighting against the diagnosis every step of the way, just to be free. I was wrenched with confusing emotions to see a child struggle so much to do something with such intense desire, full of hope, faith and drive. I was cheering them on the entire time, while crying inside to experience the depth of their limitations. If everyone in this world chose to put that much intensity into everything they do, how incredible humanity would be. There is so much to learn from these remarkable children.
This one Jazz Dance Class that I taught a group of 3 little girls, ranging from Down Syndrome to Global Developmental Disability, was full of exciting moments, energy and a few surprises. I loved every minute of it. They kept me on my toes, challenging me to keep up with their attention spans. But by the end of the 8 week session, these little girls learned their work; they achieved performing a short choreographed routine. This one little girl, whom I will never forget, was unable to control her right foot. Part of her learning to jazz dance was learning how to transfer her weight from foot to foot and extending the foot outward pointing the toe to the ground. Well, this was a struggle for her. In her physiotherapy classes at the treatment center with a registered physiotherapist, this little girl continually worked on gaining mobility with her right foot. Apparently they worked on this for months. However, after just 6 weeks in my Jazz Dance Class, she lifted her right foot and pointed it out in front of her, just like both the other girls in her class! She did it! Her grandfather informed me that she loved dancing so much that day and night she fought against her body and worked very hard practicing. With her very own determination and love for dance, she progressed in her development. Honestly, I still get teary eyed with joy thinking about it. I had a small hand in her progress, because I provided that little girl with the opportunity to dance, and shared my love of dancing with her.
In one of my Ballet Classes working with Cerebral Palsy children, there also was a little girl who stood out because of her determination. Each child required a personal worker to help guide their bodies to move and learn the skills. Each child was a complete joy to work with, full of smiles, sweetness and love. I couldn’t be more proud of their achievements in my class. However, the oldest girl in that class had the most difficult time controlling her body. She would get so frustrated with it, she spoke out loud to it, telling each part of her body, that wasn’t cooperating, to do what she wanted it to do. She won the battle, almost every single time, that is how hard she pushed herself. It was the most amazing sight for me to witness. She had me in awe every single class, each week. The ballet class put on a mini recital at the end of their session for family, friends and their developmental therapists.
It was truly an honour working with these children. I gained so much from them, they touched my life in ways no one else will ever be able to. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of compassion, and a whole new appreciation for humanity.
Today, I work with Seniors, instructing Dance and Exercise Classes. They are a hoot, truly a lively bunch of women. I wouldn’t trade my time with them for the world. With all of their physical restrictions, due to health issues, they still come every single week, and brave the elements to socialize, dance and sweat a little. They have me, and their classmates doubled over in laughter most of the time because they either messed up a dance step or decided to step outside the box and express themselves in their own creative way.
Regardless of your age or ability, dancing touches the soul like no other sport or art form can. It connects the mind to the body, creating new brain patterns and cells, and it refreshes the soul. It strengthens balance, muscle groups and thought processes. Dancing frees the soul to express itself, releasing fear, stress and anxiety. And it helps you connect to the pure energy of nature. Dance truly stimulates the body in multiple ways, directions and patterns like no other activity can. With so many styles of dance to choose from, everyone can experience the benefit of this unique and amazing activity.