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Mental Health and Dance

Posted Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 by Akada

In the past year, professional athletes have made headlines by doing one thing: taking a step back.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka pulled out of matches; and more recently, gymnast Simone Biles withdrew
from Olympic events. Both athletes cited mental health reasons for their withdrawal, and both athletes
have received praise and scorn for their decisions.
What does this have to do with dance?
The rigors of participating in local dance classes may not be on the same level as Olympic participation,
but dance studio owners notice a decline in competitive participation from teens also citing mental
health reasons. Opinions vary on whether these students are making good decisions by withdrawing
from dance classes but keep a few things in mind.

Mental health is not just a trend
Students and adults alike have been under enormous stress in the past eighteen months. This is a time
to pay attention to mental health, not ignore it. Students need understanding, not judgment because
you may not know what’s going on at home.
Rethink your message
A win-at-all-cost mindset doesn’t motivate everyone. It’s a lot of pressure. Never forget that dance is a
form of expression and mindfulness. Physical activity is beneficial for mental health. Perhaps some new
options can include recreational dance that includes mindfulness.
Care about the whole student
Sure, another trophy would be great, but not if it destroys the mental health of students. Trust
students when they tell you they need to prioritize their mental health because it demonstrates amazing
strength to draw a line between doing what they love and understanding their boundaries. Meet
students with compassion if you want to keep them.

Perhaps it’s time to recognize that right now may not be appropriate for a win-at-all-cost message, and
young people are rejecting that mindset. Meet them where they are and be the resource that they need
so that one day they will look back and see that you helped them get through some pretty hard stuff.