The Moving and Grooving program by the Hope Bridges Society is coming to Strathmore, and it's all about making dance accessible to people of all abilities. This program is run by Dance/Movement Therapist and owner of MOVEmeant organization Marie-Claire O'Donoghue, and she's bringing dance therapy to promote the power of dance as a tool for self-expression and improving mental health.
O'Donoghue explains dance therapy "is the therapeutic use of movement for emotional health and mental well-being." While there are obvious physical benefits to dance, dance therapy is focused on "that extra side of the emotional side and our mental health as well."
"This mind-body connection, they're one and the same. Our mind exists through our body and our mind is a part of the body, so as we move and we express... We can move some of our energy in a way that is going to allow us to express maybe stuck mental content, so if I'm feeling really stuck or depressed or down, finding some movement to express some of those feelings might be supportive to me," she said.
O'Donoghue said Moving and Grooving isn't like a typical dance class, since the main goal is making dance accessible to everybody and promoting mental well-being. Because of that, it's not focused on precise choreography and a regimented structure like you may be thinking. There is still an organized class structure of course, but the focus is on using dance as an outlet for emotion and expression, not on technical perfection.
Even if you have potential mobility impairments, O'Donoghue said you're still welcome to join. In fact, she and Hope Bridges actively encourage you to join, as the course is all about accessibility and O'Donoghue said the class can be tailored to each individual's specific needs.
"If someone has a limited capacity or limited range of motion in their arms, we might just invite them to move their arms in the ways that they can, or if that is absolutely nothing at all, just to invite them to imagine moving their arms, or to come into a space of feeling if they can sense their arms in any way. If they have a caregiver or one-on-one support with them, maybe that person can sort of massage the person's arms."
Props are another great way to promote expression, and can also be a useful tool for anyone who may not have a full range of motion. For example, even if you can't fully move your arm, you may be able to hold a ribbon and move that around.
Moving and Grooving is a four-week pilot program beginning on May fourth. It will run every Thursday from that day from 10:00-11:00 a.m. The program is free, but Hope Bridges asks that you pre-register for the event by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or their phone number 403-983-3640. Additionally, O'Donoghue added she offers programs and courses with her MOVEmeant studio, and you can contact her and find additional information about that at her website www.meanttomove.org.
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