Using Dance to Heal

            "Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one." - Stella Adler

Drawing by BZTAT (used with permission)
           As the end of last week rolled around, I had a new blog post on Post Performance Letdown ready to be published, but in light of the tragic events unfolding in my home state of Connecticut, it seemed inappropriate to simply publish the post and pretend everything was normal.

            As a parent I wanted to get my children home and keep them safe, as a person I wondered how this event could possibly be happening, and as a teacher who frequently works with the elementary age group, I could envision exactly how the young children involved must have reacted.

            I spent the weekend wondering how I could go back into a classroom of young children again without falling apart, and I began searching for a path to healing.  I searched far longer than I needed to.  I am a dancer, and I knew what dance therapists have always known:  the arts provide a means of expression that grounds us, brings joy, and promotes healing.

            On Monday normal routines were occurring in schools.  Students were still reading, writing, and solving math problems, and many of the young ones at my local elementary school knew little, if anything, about last Friday’s events in Newtown, Connecticut.  One only needed to look into every teacher’s eyes, however, to see where the healing was needed.

            Yesterday a very special principal agreed to allow a passionate music teacher and myself to help facilitate that healing process for her staff.  During the annual holiday sing-along, we were allowed to turn the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” into a school-wide dance.  Smiles lit up the room as kindergarteners, first, second, third, and fourth graders became dancing reindeer and filled the gymnasium with light and laughter.  The sadness was forgotten for a while, hope sprang eternal in the faces of students and staff, and the healing process was given a jump start.

            The arts have always been a source of healing, and, at times like these, instead of letting life beat us down, we must find a way to rise up against the evil in the world.  We must not forget that dance can help us do that – dance elevates the soul.