What if We All Stopped What We Were Doing & Danced?

           "While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance." - Hans Bos

           Dance – it’s a creative outlet; a form of expression; it benefits the nervous system, the skeletal system, the circulatory system, and the muscular system; it can be used to educate or rehabilitate; and it’s a form of therapy. What if, for one moment in time, everyone in the world stopped what they were doing to celebrate everything that dance is and simply danced?

            Ten years ago Beth Fein decided to try to accomplish just that and created dance anywhere®. She was searching for a way to make dance accessible to everyone, inspire creativity, and change people’s perspectives about art.

            This year’s celebration of dance will take place on Friday, March 28, 2014, at noon in California, which is 3:00 PM in New York City. People interested in participating can check out the dance anywhere® website to determine what time that would be in their locations. There is nothing formal about this venture. It does not require fancy choreography or professional dancers. It simply requires that some people gather and celebrate everything that dance has to offer by simply moving for a short period of time.

            For more information or to enroll as a participating group, visit the website (www.danceanywhere.org) , watch the video from last year’s event, help spread the word, and join in the dance on March 28.

Using Dance to Help Foster Children

            "Dance is the hidden language of the soul." - Martha Graham

       In the late 1930’s a dancer named Marian Chace was teaching dance and asked a very important question - why do people dance if they have no desire to become professional dancers? This question led her to begin to focus more on the people that she was teaching than the actual dance technique. She began to see that emotions were stored in the body, and that many people used dance as a means of communication and expression. She welcomed World War II veterans who were experiencing psychological problems into her classes and helped them to use dance to work through some of the post-traumatic stress they were experiencing.

            In 1990, the American Journal of Dance Therapy published a study that showed modern dance could be used to reduce anxiety and that it was significantly more effective than music and physical education classes.

            Today, in 2014, Melanie Buttarazzi is determined to use dance to help foster children confront the emotions they have stored in their bodies and battle the anxiety they deal with daily…

            A Toronto native, Melanie has toured with her musician father and brought dance and music to children in both Canada and the United States. Her interest in arts outreach has led her to create the program “Fostering Dreams Through Dance.”  She is partnering with the First Star Program, an arts and academic program at UCLA that works to place at-risk children on a path toward achieving a college education.

            Melanie and a group of talented dancers and choreographers, who have all agreed to donate their time, will be working with 15-25 teenage foster children to use dance to help them cope with the emotional upheavals they have encountered in their lives. The dancers will work with the students, introducing them to different dance styles, teaching them how to use movement to express words and emotions, and helping them choreograph their own pieces based upon their life experiences. 

            While one long-term goal of the project is to provide these children with scholarships to dance schools so that they may continue to dance after the project ends, the main goals will be to help these at-risk students learn how to express themselves through movement and to help them process emotions that may have been stored in their bodies for years.

            Projects like this remind us all why dance matters and why we fight to keep the arts alive in our society. You can find more information about “Fostering Dreams Through Dance” at www.fosteringdreamsproject.org.  You might also want to check out the Kickstarter Campaign and let them know that you believe in the power of dance to change lives, too.

I Had No Idea… An Eating Disorder Recovery Story

In celebration of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, The Healthy Dancer asked its readers to share their stories, and to encourage our readers to promote awareness and share these posts, The Healthy Dancer is hosting a giveaway. To be entered to win the new edition of Jenni Schaefer's book, Life Without ED, you must leave a comment on this post. To gain additional entries we invite you to share links to our posts this week on Facebook and Twitter.

This post is from a courageous young woman in recovery…

When I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and eating disorders at 15 years old, I had no idea that they would impact every aspect of my life, that they would always be a part of who I am and that they would dramatically change the path my life would take.

When I graduated from high school and went off to college, I had no idea that my eating disorder would ever be an issue that could take me away from school.

When I was admitted to the hospital for the first time after my college required me to seek treatment, I had no idea that I really had a problem and that I was dying from it.

When I finished my first cycle of treatment, graduated from college and landed my first real job, I had no idea that simply maintaining a healthy weight did not mean that I had worked through all my issues.

When I realized I had fully relapsed and had to decide for myself to seek treatment again, I had no idea that it would be far more difficult the second time around.

When I returned to my job from my first medical leave, I had no idea how many appointments and therapy sessions I would need just to keep me going to work each day.

When I was let go from my job after another medical leave, I had no idea that my eating disorder would prevent me from working full-time for many years.

When I found a part-time job and immediately had to return to an eating disorder program, I had no idea that the rest of my time at that job would continue to be interrupted by appointments, programs and hospitalizations.

When I just could not cope with a major life transition and my therapists could not stop me from hurting myself, I had no idea that it would take four months of hospitalization before I could feel safe again.


When I thought my life was over because my therapist, nutritionist and psychiatrist all terminated with me and I lost my job, I had no idea that I would eventually be able to work with my ideal treatment team, who would help me find my way back to the path of recovery.

When I learned that I needed to be able to fight my battles outside of the hospitals in order to truly recover, I had no idea that I had the strength to do it.

When I was told over and over that a particular treatment was not an option for me, I had no idea that I had the ability to advocate for myself and find a doctor who believed that I could get better.

When I returned to dance after a hiatus, I had no idea that I could make healthy choices and that they would actually make me a better dancer.

When I was given the opportunity to help out my best friend and her family, I had no idea that I had the courage to move across the country for three months without jeopardizing my treatment or recovery.

When I spent years turned inward and isolated, I had no idea that I could be social, repair old relationships and make new friends.

When I learned about the peer movement and that there are jobs for people who use their lived experiences with mental illness to help others, I had no idea that I would ultimately end up making it my life plan to go into that field.

When I applied for a specific training three years in a row but was never accepted, I had no idea that I would find a way to educate myself and start volunteering without having to go through the training.

When I spoke at a National Eating Disorders Awareness Week event in February 2013, I had no idea that I would spend the next year sharing my recovery story, facilitating peer support groups and advocating for myself and others.


When I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and eating disorders at 15 years old, I had no idea that they would impact every aspect of my life, that they would always be a part of who I am and that they would dramatically change the path my life would take.

And I had no idea that I would be able to find my brave to overcome these struggles to create a life worth living.

- Jamie Loud
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