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The Benefits of Performing Arts Part 5: Empowerment


When I was a girl (ages 3-15), I was a serious ballet dancer. My mother says I danced “eight days a week.” I was dedicated, and I genuinely loved it, but I do not look like a typical dancer. I am more stocky and curvier than a picturesque ballet dancer. This gave me many insecurities and lots of self-doubt. Several times, during my tween and teen years, I was encouraged by my peers and instructors to become a vegetarian, lose weight, make my feet more arched, and so on. The other dancers and I had a terrible habit of comparing ourselves to each other and putting ourselves down. To an extent this is human nature; however, we were not given the tools by the adults in our lives to shift our thoughts and actions to make healthy mental and physical choices for ourselves (in many cases some unhealthy habits were encouraged).


As an adult who is now responsible for helping performers find an approach to becoming the best version of themselves, I do so in the spirit of meeting students where they are. It is so important to understand performers in their present state, encourage them to use their gifts that already exist, and help them expand on those gifts. I feel this is the work of encouraging empowerment.  

 

An area in which performing arts can be particularly beneficial is building up our confidence. At every age and stage, we all deal with self-doubt. Personally, one of my least favorite words is “enough.” People often wonder, “Am I good enough? Smart enough? Successful enough?” These questions can leave us feeling as though we need to hide from others, or that we do not belong in social situations, or that our voice is not important, or that we do not “fit in.” 


Performing through songs, acting, or dance can turn this self-doubt around and give us the empowerment we all long for and deserve. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from a successful scene among peers, voice lesson, or uproarious applause from an adoring audience after you’ve put in hard work on honing your skills for a performance. If you have not tried it, I highly recommend it. It is my heart’s desire to build a SAFE creative space for those in my community to feel seen, heard, and understood.


I invite you to be a part of creating that space with me. The next time you witness a young person experiencing self-criticism, self-doubt, or anything of the sort, I challenge you to first listen. Try to understand by asking, “Why do you feel that way?” Allow space for explanation. If you can relate, do so. Empathize and find connection by asking if you can share something from your own experience in feeling similar at a time in your life. Say things like, “What you are feeling is normal,” and ask how you can offer support. If they don’t know, that’s ok. In doing this we are supporting artists we know to be less concerned with how much they weigh and more concerned with being the best version of themselves possible. Knowing someone is there, is in our corner, and understands, is sometimes the “enough” we are searching for, and all the “enough” we need. 


My hope for this blog is that it may inspire you to get yourself and the children in your life – be it your own kids or your nieces, nephews, godchildren, neighbors, randos you meet in the community – more involved in the arts. I hope you enjoy, reply, and take some magic with you.

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