*By Maria Komenda 

For some dance is just an activity, it has no more meaning than producing a sequence of moves that fit a certain song and rhythm, yet for others, dance can be one of the most important things that helps someone in becoming who they truly are. 

In our modern society dance can play many vital roles, especially in the preservation of our mental health. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also determines how we react to certain decisions. Our mental health is important in every single stage of our lives and we should always take good care of it. Dance is a pastime that can help people to be healthier, not only in the body but also in the mind. 

Dance is an escape for the mind, we allow ourselves to forget the troubles around us and completely submerge ourselves in a creative atmosphere.  

Dance is a trainer. It teaches our minds to loosen up and allowour imagination to take over our body. We train our body both mentally and physically. We learn to understand the strength and flexibility our body holds, and from this we build upon our resilience and push ourselves to the furthest boundaries that we never thought we could reach before. 

Through the expression of different movements, we can show the emotions we hold. Not only is this important, but the satisfaction of nailing a choreography and tweaking it to perfection shows us how time and hard work can pay off. This also shows us that we should love ourselves and our bodies; for we can all show the beauty that movement holds. We build on our minds and find the confidence to strut out onto the stage and give it our all. Through hard work and perseverance, we can reach extraordinary achievements. Instead of being our own biggest critics, we should be our biggest self-motivators. For we all know, true happiness, confidence and appreciation comes from within.  

The dance school is also a place to meet new people. We often become nervous at the thought of joining a class full of people we don’t know. But from this we build our social skills and form new friendships, whatever our age. 

Finally, dance provides us with many opportunities. Whether it be performing in honour of something important or performing in amazing locations and venues, or whether it’s just the experience of being part of a big team that worked together to create a spectacular performance; it will be a memory in our minds for the rest of our lives. 

As a dancer, I have noticed the improvement in my own mental health since I joined SA Dance. When I walk into a dance class, I immediately feel a sense of release, I leave whatever has happened during the day behind me and focus my mind on the challenge ahead.  Not only do you push your body physically, you also have to think about the way it moves. And it doesn’t stop there; picking up choreography requires lots of brain power – you have to be continuously on the ball. Even after you’ve learnt the moves, you need to ‘drill it’ into your mind to allow them to come naturally, and flow as part of the routine. When I leave a dance class, I feel great. I am buzzing from the excitement and challenge of learning a new piece of choreography. And even if I haven’t quite nailed it towards the end of the class, it gives me something to focus on and a renewed determination to get it right the next time. I don’t know how I would have been able to get through the obstacles I’ve faced in life if I didn’t have that small but precious amount of time to dance and express myself. Thanks to dance I’ve made myself proud and have learnt to love myself.

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