Fostering a Healthy Dance Community: A Call for Change
Welcome to Beyond the StEPS
In the dynamic world of dance, where grace and discipline meet movement, there exists a crucial yet often overlooked aspect: the mental and emotional well-being of dancers. Recently, we had the opportunity to delve into this critical topic in an eye-opening conversation with Ashley Mowrey*, a certified life coach and mindset expert. This blog post aims to shed light on the importance of fostering a healthy dance community and the steps we can take to make positive changes.
Recognizing the Signs:
- Our discussion with Ashley highlighted the importance of recognizing signs of mental and emotional distress within the dance community. Dancers, teachers, and parents alike need to be aware of potential issues that may arise, such as verbal abuse, shaming, or a toxic studio environment.
Simone Biles' Courageous Stand:
- Ashley pointed out the recent example set by Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who prioritized her mental health during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This act of courage resonates not only in the sports world but also in dance. It sends a powerful message that taking care of oneself is just as important as striving for success.
The Connection Between Teaching and Lack of Pedagogy:
- A critical question raised during our conversation was whether abusive teaching practices are linked to a lack of education and pedagogy. This highlights the need for standardized training within the dance community. The absence of a governing body means individuals must take the initiative to seek professional development and training.
Breaking the Silence:
- Ashley emphasized the importance of breaking the silence surrounding abusive behavior. Dancers, educators, and parents should feel empowered to speak up and report any concerning incidents. Local laws and organizations, such as DanceSafe, can offer support and resources to those in need.
A Call to Action for Each Role:
- One of the key takeaways from our conversation was the idea that everyone in the dance community has a role to play in advocating for change. Whether you're a dancer, teacher, or parent, there is something you can do to contribute. It could be as simple as having an open conversation, making a mindset shift, or seeking additional training.
Creating a healthy dance community requires collective effort and a commitment to change. The insights shared by Ashley Mowrey-McLaughlin underscore the need for awareness, empathy, and action. By recognizing the signs, drawing inspiration from courageous figures like Simone Biles, and actively seeking education and support, we can work towards fostering a positive and nurturing environment for all dancers. It's time to prioritize the well-being of our dance community and create a space where everyone can thrive beyond the steps.
Continue your Education for yourself and your students with the StEPS Initiative Course!
About the StEPS Initiative Course
This course started in part with our charity event we created to save dance studios. Then we decided to keep it a free resource for the dance community. You can learn all about it below.
As part of our commitment to education and creating a safe space for all dancers, we are excited to introduce the StEPS Initiative Course. This has been curated by Apolla and donated from experts and professionals in each topic.
Our goal in creating this course is to give dance teachers continuing education/professional development, give dancers the power of education, and provide parents the knowledge to see red flags. Each section has actionable items that can unite dance studios focused on equity and creating a safe space for every dancer. This course gives evidence-based information, some perspective & qualitative information, dance history, and further resources that can help you learn something new that helps progress and strengthen your studio OR solidify what you already have in place. There is something for everyone!
This course is free for EVERYONE (Apolla has covered the cost and the presenters have donated the course content). These are meant to be introductions and actionable items for you. We know this is not a silver bullet to fix every issue or topic that needs to be addressed in dance. Each topic is deep and broad on its own. However, we aim for this to be the first step for some of us in these topics and even serves as a small catalyst for change in our industry. You will see there are also many resources that can allow you to expand your journey further in any of the subjects. With all that 2020 has thrown at all of us, we are determined to heal through listening, grow from adversity through action, and rise up by bringing everyone together. In the end, we will create a space open wide for the new generation of artists and athletes to ring in the new decade stronger and safer than ever!
Watch the Full Episode with Ashley* Here!
*Ashley Mowrey is a former competitive dancer, dance educator, and competition company director. Now as a Mindset Coach, she helps dancers build a healthy mindset so they can shine on and off the stage. Ashley works with dancers through 1-1 virtual coaching as well as studio and team workshops. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas, is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation, a Whole Person Certified Coach and Trauma-Informed Certified Coach, a Certified Positive Psychology Coach, and a trained facilitator in Tara Mohr's Playing Big Coaching Program. Ashley’s a specialist for Doctors for Dancers, and a blog contributor for Apolla Performance. You can also see her on tour with Embody Dance Conference, where she leads Mindset Skills Seminars for all ages, including parents and teachers.