Welcome to our blog series on the upsides of dancing and how it can change your life.
We talked in our first blog about the fact, we all have “internal glasses” that can become empty over time or because of our experiences. For instance, our self- esteem glass can be low, our physical fitness glass can be completely empty, our relationship glass may be half full or our social connections glass may need topping up!!
Social dancing can be a way topping up all those important glasses.
In this blog we talk about how a dancing community can fill up multiple glasses at once, especially during the current pandemic.
Our “Dance Family” story
Just because people dance together doesn’t mean they are a community. It’s not uncommon in a dance studio for students to turn up for their lesson 5 minutes before and then leave straight after so they don’t get to know anyone other than their instructor. And in some studios, there is a hierarchy of students where more experienced students don’t necessarily mix with newer students which means some people can be left out of the fun at social events.
When we started the studio, we decided that we wanted to start a new tradition and build a dance community within a studio. Luckily, pretty much all of our students were new to dancing, so we could start from scratch.
First thing we did was schedule our lessons on the hour, so we had time to get to know our students and more importantly introduce them to each other. Not all our social events were dance focused and our annual family picnics were a highlight of the calendar. At socials we created an atmosphere where everyone mixed in and newbies were always made welcome by fellow students, at events there was lots of encouragement and cheering especially for the newer students.
Before we knew it, we had built a community, in fact our students built it, we just sat back and watched as it grew. We call it our “Dance Family” or Dance Fam for short.
So, what does community mean to our dance family?
Prior to COVID our community was mostly about social connections, our students travelled overseas together, participated in dance events together, formed social groups, supported each other during tough times, joined up for holidays and met up for coffee or a meal. Our keen gardeners shared their veggies with everyone.
But the power of our Dance Family really came into its own in 2020 and lockdown. At a time that was all about social distancing and staying apart our Dance Family reached out in all sorts of ways. Our group classes went online, we did a series of dance challenges and when toilet paper was in short supply or flour couldn’t be found on the supermarket shelves it was Dance Fam to the rescue!! Students looked out for each other, cooking meals for anyone who was sick or isolated, making catch up phone calls, holding group ZOOMs plus there were hilarious posts on our closed FB group…but that’s a whole other blog!!
And when we finally got to catch up in person at a social prior to Christmas, there was way more talking than dancing as everyone reconnected.
Our Dance Family is a great example of how non dancing activities can fill all those empty glasses, like loneliness, isolation, laughter, connection and caring.
Why is building community important?
Well, communities are vital sources of support, especially during a crisis. Academic research conducted last year in the UK found that helping others during the pandemic built a sense of community, belonging and unity. But on an everyday basis being part of something bigger like a Dance Family benefits everyone. This is a personal story about our community, but whether you belong to a sports club, a choir, a mother’s group or a book club there’s an opportunity for you to be part of a community.
Meet the authors
After owning and running Social Dance Company for 15 years, Matthew and Dani feel like they’ve taken a degree in counselling and have dramatically changed the way they teach to make sure every student’s cup is full. In this blog series we’ll be sharing the latest research, telling the stories of people we’ve taught and generally celebrating the power of social dancing.