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The therapeutic effect of dance
March 18, 2019

Audley Coley and Carol Jones get passionate about the therapeutic virtues of the Fusion Dance for Well-Being class they offer at Les Grands Ballets' STUDIOS. Learn more about the class they teach!

Week after week the two teachers blend their energy and their areas of expertise (ballet, contemporary, jazz, modern, hip hop, reggae, folk, percussive dance) to stimulate students of all ages. “Coming to our class is like going to a buffet!” says Audley Coley. “It’s been proven that dance is therapeutic, and I’m living proof! I suffered from manic-depression and bipolarity, and dancing helped me ground myself. It’s good for everyone – it’s the best medication I know!”

In their eyes, dance is more than a simple physical activity that produces endorphins. “Through dancing, we can stay in shape and express ourselves,” points out Carol Jones. “The music styles we move to make it possible for students to externalize what they’re feeling. When we dance, we learn to assert ourselves, to explore our limitations, to push them back and to get to the depths of our emotions.”

The lady of 62 claims that dance quite simply saved her life when she was 15. “I had a very difficult adolescence. My father had just died. I was thinking of studying medicine, because there were a number of doctors in my family and I had the intelligence for it. But dance turned up, and it became my passion. I started to dance 10 hours a day. Today I want to offer people what dance gave to me.”

According to the two enthusiasts, dance helps reduce stress and depression, whether seasonal or long-term. “We offer a comfortable space where people can come, whatever their condition,” explains Audley Coley. “When we get them dancing, we see the change instantly. When classes are over, they’re reinvigorated.” And that’s the case even if the class isn’t dance therapy. “People come in order to move,” he says, “and without their realizing it, the therapeutic effects make themselves felt.”

His colleague talks about adapted dance. “Students warm up, get centered, let themselves go and improvise as in a number of dance classes. I make sure that people understand the instructions and that they’re in harmony with the suggested movement. When students show up for a class depressed, they can be offered a guided improvisation rather than basing everything on technique. That way they can dance without thinking about whether an arm or a leg is in the right place.”

Audley Coley feels honored to be able to help people this way. “Instead of drowning their problems in drink or self-medicating, they come here, they dance, their eyes light up and their cheeks turn red. I couldn’t put a price on how that makes me feel!”

by Samuel Larochelle

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