Dance studio

Kelowna, BC dance studio uses movement to improve teen mental health – Okanagan

Laura Elliot of the Creator’s Arts Center Dance School in Kelowna has been doing everything she can to ensure her dancers can escape the pandemic and continue to express themselves safely, online and in person.

“During COVID it became a big part that I discussed with teachers, it was how to keep students connected and students talking to each other and how to keep dancing,” said Elliot, Artistic Director.

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

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

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“You can express those feelings through dance without having to talk about your feelings. Normally I don’t talk about my feelings, but being able to dance with my body in this way has always been very helpful to me.

For 14-year-old Maddi Ireland, taking a dance class is helping her overcome her anxiety.

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

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The efforts of Elliot and his team have provided a lifeline for students and their parents.

“Coming back to the studio has been huge,” said Nikki Stokes, Mia’s mother. “[Mia] just started coming back to life and honestly, I appreciate her even more, because not having it, she’s like, ‘Mom, I need to dance.’

Elliot even became a role model for his students, setting an example to help encourage the next generation of confident and talented dancers.

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