By: Jessica Fascenelli Weisenbach,
Dance and Performing Arts Director
In my first blog “Dance: Not Just Tutus and Tap Shoes” I touched upon a few of the benefits that dance gives children and adults that are hidden beneath the surface.
While thinking about this blog I decided I really wanted to focus on how dance boots self-confidence, and how this effect often carries over in to other areas of life. I immediately thought of one of our dance program members, Talia Gould, and her family.
The Gould family started with us several years ago and our dance & performing arts staff has had the pleasure of seeing Talia (10) work toward being quite a talented young dancer. Stephanie, Talia’s mother and Maddie (15), Talia’s older sister are also part of our Connection family. Stephanie is a member of our dance team parent organization and Maddie is one of our assistant dance teachers. The development of these two dancers is delightful, so I sat down with the family to get their thoughts on what dance does for them.
I asked both Talia and Maddie how dance makes them feel. Maddie explained “Dance makes me feel like me. It makes me feel good.” Talia said “Dance makes me feel happy. I love dancing”. Maddie continued and spoke about how dance helps her relieve stress and feel better, and that this feeling carries over to other areas of her life. Talia agreed. She spoke about her happiness during class, after class, and on even on the soccer field. Stephanie jumped in explaining that as Talia’s confidence grew within dance she saw her confidence grow in several areas of her life, including soccer. “Talia is more limber, has great body awareness, and knows her physical strength,” Stephanie stated. Maddie added that she has noticed Talia has grown a lot since starting in our dance program, “when Talia was younger she would get upset after not getting a step. Now she is much more confident. She is able to process any frustration and move on.” Stephanie agreed and told me that she sees that Talia now has the confidence in herself to say “I’ll get it”.
In addition to Talia’s athletic endeavors being positively impacted by the confidence she gained through dance, Stephanie has noticed that both she and Maddie have blossomed in other areas. She noted that the girls have an easier time walking up to a new person, taking a test, trying new things, and that they have really come in to their own socially. I have noticed this as well while teaching Talia for the past few years, and observing Maddie as a dancer and educator. Both girls seem to be more willing to put themselves out there while beaming with confidence and poise.
So, how does dance create this sense of confidence? This elevated level of self-esteem? The Gould family may just have the answer…
Maddie said something that really stuck with me. She noted how not only has dance made her feel more comfortable with her body, but that “dance makes me feel like this is who I am, the only me I will be. Dance makes me love myself. Dance allows me to be myself”. I could not agree more. As someone who has been dancing for 24 years, Maddie’s words reminded me of why I dance, and why I teach. When you are dancing nothing else matters but the steps, strength, and emotion of those moments. In those moments where your body and mind are so focused and so disciplined, that is where dancers find themselves.
Even our smallest dancers are having these experiences, at a different level but still significant. These experiences are the building blocks to their growth, their progress, and most importantly, their self-confidence. Talia, frustrated with the fictional notion that dance is “just turning around with your arms up in the air” went on to say that in dance “you work hard and go through a hard process to get where you are”. That really hits the nail on the head! This is where that initial boost of confidence comes from. Whether it is a young child accomplishing standing in first position or getting a stamp at the end of class, or an older child perfecting a leap, the feeling a dancer gets after completing those processes creates self-confidence.
Maddie said something else that stuck with me about confidence and specifically her experience at The Connection. She told me that she loves The Connection because it provides a place that you can not only learn dance, but find a love of dance and grow. Maddie said “The Connection not only made me who I am, but also made Talia who she is today”. Stephanie agreed in saying “The Connection’s environment breeds confidence and comfort. The teachers are comforting and understand Talia, and how far she has come.” I believe that is another important building block in the formation of one’s self-confidence. Having a safe place where you can learn, explore, and grow and having mentors that you admire and trust is so very important. Talia told me that she looks up to her sister as an assistant teacher and fellow dancer, “Maddie is my go to person” she said. Maddie added “I not only love assistant teaching at The Connection because I love dance and helping other dancers, but it helps me too because I look up to Miss Jessica. I want to be where she is, and doing what she is doing when I get older”. Wow, I thought! It is truly a beautiful thing to hear that our dance & performing arts program means so much to these young ladies and their family.
To quote from my first blog – “Dance is all encompassing and allows people of all ages and abilities to learn, express, and connect. Whether you are looking for professional style training or a new adventure, taking a dance class can be a rewarding experience.” One major reward being confidence and the carry over that we just heard about first hand.
So next time you or your child is taking a dance class, take note of the feeling of accomplishment that comes during and even after class. Each baby step or big leap is one small (or large) stride toward gaining the self-confidence we all desire.