The Healing Power of DANCE

Anyone living in Santa Barbara knows that the New Year did not really start in January, and as we go into February, many of us are trying to find traction.  We are in a state of limbo as our community recovers from the recent mudslide disaster.  Whether you and your family were directly impacted by the treacherous mud flow, or by economic hardship caused by evacuation or work displacement, or by second-hand PTSD as we watch the horrific images on our screens, it has been hard to establish a new ‘normal.’

The ones who are most affected by this tectonic shift in our community, are the children.  They sense the anxiety, fear, and stress of their parents and care-givers, and many of them are re-living painful memories from that fateful night of January 9th.   While families begin to rebuild, and schools are displaced, and we grieve the lost, many children may be feeling emotions that they cannot process.

Dance is an incredible way to begin the healing process.  Sherry Goodill, president of the American Dance Therapy Association has brought national attention to the needs of children and teens who have experienced trauma and how to support their resilience and recovery.

“Dance/Movement Therapy uses movement to bring about healing and recovery   Studies have shown that dance can decrease depression, improve mood, and strengthen positive feelings about one’s self…. It has been reported that children who have been traumatized can live on the alert, anxious and fearful. Dance-based methods for getting grounded, for sensing the body’s energy and position, and for developing breath support can help with learning to pay attention to one’s own needs, and for feeling more in control, and for regulating fearful or angry reactions.”

At Dance Arts, we believe that dance is a healing force, but more powerful is the community and support network our students and families find at the Performing Arts Center. The night after the mudslide, as shell-shocked mother held me as she cried. They live in Montecito and had just come from the hospital visiting a friend in critical condition.  She said, "my daughter needed to come here.. she needed to dance and feel at home when so much is lost, but I needed to come here to an experience this love and community.” We cried and hugged, as so many of us did in those raw and emotional days that followed.    

It occurred to me that rebuilding from this tragedy will only be done partially by hammers, nails, and excavators. The bulk of it will be done with human connection, empathy, and support.  We hope that you will find that here at Dance Arts, and that we can be catalyst for and healing among the rubble. 

Together, we will express our emotions and grieve through movement... especially  when we cannot find the words.  #805strong