It’s no surprise that anxiety is rampant among tweens and teens these days—there have been so many unpredictable and stressful moments in their lives. From the cancellation of important events last spring to the adjustments surrounding school, family, and their social lives, our children have been facing numerous challenges that none of us could have anticipated!
At SDC, we’ve noticed that some dancers readily express their anxiety in class, often seeking support from their friends and teachers. Others remain quiet, preferring to keep their emotions to themselves. While we would never assume to know a student’s health history, we can’t help but see that more dancers than ever, each in their own way, seem more preoccupied with their worries.
Our observations appear to be confirmed by evidence-based research: Prior to the pandemic, the National Institute of Mental Health noted that 38% of girls experienced an anxiety disorder in their teen years. Then, last summer, the American Psychological Association conducted a study that showed 43% of teens felt their stress level had increased because of the pandemic. Those two facts taken together can only mean one thing: The uptick in anxiety we see in our kids is very real.
We understand that as dance teachers, we’re not equipped to diagnose a child or provide therapy. But we also know that dance itself can be very therapeutic. By its very nature, dance is allowing our students to release their emotions into movement. It’s offering them a way to connect with their peers and their role models, even if it’s behind a mask or from a physical distance. Their dance training—even when produced differently than usual—gives them a safe space to project their feelings and affirms that they’re still being held to high standards.
With this in mind, at Studio Dance Centre, we are committed to supporting our students with dance classes that serve their whole health—mind and body. Our teachers are trained to sense when their students may need more than technique class; perhaps today is a day where the dancers need to center themselves by learning a new breathing technique, or tomorrow will be a day that everyone enjoys a much-needed laugh with a change in the class playlist (holiday tunes, anyone?). Seemingly small moments like these are actually big opportunities to help our students feel secure, grounded, and loved.
We recognize that our dancers’ well-being is more than meets the eye, and it’s vital that we pay attention to their mental health as well as their physical health. Connection is more than just showing up—it’s the bridge we build to lift our dancers up. And it’s how we help them exceed expectations, even during tough times. Our dancers are growing exponentially on this life journey during a pandemic, and we’re here to support them at each step!
– Ms. Julie