The Power of Dance
By Logan Presnell, FWDC Outreach Teaching Artist
I will never forget the day that I was first introduced to the outreach work that Fort Wayne Dance Collective (FWDC) was doing throughout the community. I was immediately so inspired by the mission of using dance to truly change lives and provide dance education in places that may not be the most traditional. In the past year, I have been given the incredible opportunity to teach at a few of the FWDC outreach locations. Through this experience, I have seen firsthand the life-changing power that dance can have in a student’s life, no matter the age.
A large part of my position as an FWDC Outreach teacher involves me teaching in schools. Students spend so much of their time in the classroom. When they are given the opportunity to enter a room and dance, they feel their most free selves. Every time a student enters my class I sense them taking the weight off their shoulders that school can naturally bring upon them. Aside from the obvious physical benefits of students being given the opportunity to dance during school, dance also provides a unique and beneficial social environment for students to make new friends. Dance, as a creative art, also helps develop students’ minds in a unique way by engaging and improving both their short-term memory (to remember combinations that day) and long-term memory (to remember dances from week to week).
However, the most important part of what I do is developing these students as people. Dance is a vulnerable and liberating activity that requires courage from any of its participants. When a student finally lets that guard down and expresses themselves freely for the first time or the one-hundredth time, they become a more confident, true version of themselves. That is the magic of dance!
The greatest illustration of this transformation I can think of is from a student who I have taught at multiple locations. This student tends to have some behavioral issues in the classroom, but in dance, he is able to be free. Dance allows him to thrive. He is the type of student who could easily feel “too cool” to dance but he has completely jumped in and given his all in class every day. What has been so neat to see is the newfound confidence that he has discovered because of dance, a confidence that caused him to want to perform for 25 of his friends completely solo. I watched as he danced his heart out all alone for a room full of his peers and was so proud of the confidence and joy he exuded as he danced his heart out. Now if that’s not courage, I don’t know what is!
I am so grateful for what FWDC outreach programs do for our city and the way the organization uses dance to change people’s hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.