For my NSG project, I offered free online “Mindful Movement” dance classes to the community. As a psychologist and a contemporary dancer, I acutely understand what it means to not be able to do what you love or get together with people who matter during this pandemic. During the pandemic, dancing changed completely, both in the realm of performance arts and in the realm of recreational dancing for fun and connection. Dance – something that I see as bringing people together – could not be done the same way anymore. At the same time, I was very aware that many people’s mental health is affected by isolation and having forced time away from work, hobbies, and loved ones; the need for human connection was higher than ever in our community. The Mindful Movement class series was an attempt to bring people together – safely. I wanted to bring the joy of dance and the possibilities of doing dance in a mindful, body-positive way to people’s homes. I wanted to create an online environment to free up creativity through improvisation.
One challenge we encountered was how to reach people – especially those who have not been interested in dance before, who will not search for dance classes. I wanted to give folks like that a totally new possibility of experience. Voirelia, a hub for Dance, Psychology, and Philosophy, helped me a lot with reaching out to communities to let different neighbourhoods know about the classes. We had multiple people in the class who were totally new to dance as a whole.
With the help of NSG and additional support from Voirelia, I believe these classes were a great success on all fronts.
More than 40 people attended the online classes, from all different areas in Vancouver. Many remarked that they have never done a class like this before and have never thought of dance in the way we approached it in the class. As we chatted together after the class, people talked about moving more freely, connecting to their creativity, and dancing without judging themselves. To me, even if one person felt something like this in the class, that is already a resounding success.