Kelowna, B.C. dance studio uses movement to improve teens’ mental health

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A Kelowna dance studio has been helping its dancers overcome mental health challenges amid the pandemic. Sydney Morton has more about how movement is helping them manage through this difficult time. – Oct 16, 2021

Laura Elliot of Creator’s Arts Centre Dance School in Kelowna has gone out of her way to make sure that her dancers can escape the pandemic and continue to express themselves safely both online and in person.

“Over the course of COVID, that became a huge part I’ve discussed with the teachers, was how to keep the students connecting and the students talking to each other and how do we keep the dancing going,” said Elliot, artistic director.

The physical art form kept the dancers in shape, got them out of the house and helped them improve their mental health amid public health orders that left many feeling lonely and isolated.

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“It’s a creative outlet as well, so you can express any feelings: sad, anxious and angry,” said Mia Stokes, 15-year-old dancer.

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“You can express those feelings through dance without having to speak your feelings. I don’t normally talk about my feelings, but being able to dance with my body in that way has always been super helpful for me.”

For 14-year-old Maddi Ireland, attending dance class helps her work through anxiety.

“If I’m anxious, I just love coming to dance. I just feel a lot better because I can express myself differently, it’s definitely helped me with school because I don’t have to think about just grades and working all the time,” said Ireland.

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Elliot and her team’s efforts provided a lifeline for both students and their parents.

“Getting back into the studio was huge,” Nikki Stokes, Mia’s mom, said. “[Mia] just started to come back to life again and honestly, I appreciate it even more, because not having it, she’s saying, ‘Mom, I need to dance.'”

Elliot has even become a role model for her students, leading by example to help encourage the next generation of confident, talented dancers.

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