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  “I will take what I learn from my teachers at Dance Workshop with me for the rest of my life. Dancing has directly and indirectly molded my personality. It has taught me that doing something that I love can help make a difference in someone else's life. That is a great feeling!”
  Emily Blystone, student  
Dance Training Helps Children Deal with Medical Problems
It is always interesting to hear what parents want from dance education for their children. We always ask that question when a new family registers at Dance Workshop by Shari. Many people answer the way you would expect – they are looking for a fun activity for their young child or they want to improve the technique of an experienced dancer.

There are many, many other reasons, and often we hear those as well. Many parents realize the value of a structured dance program in raising self esteem, building confidence, developing coordination, learning time-management and establishing good physical fitness habits. The ability to work as part of a team is also mentioned as a critical factor in a successful future for the child.

What has been very interesting is that we are also hearing that dance classes have helped many of our students deal with physical challenges. Laina Wilson, age 12 from Pittsburgh, is dealing with a condition called Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy (RND), which is a joint disorder. She was losing her flexibility and range of motion throughout her body. Once diagnosed, she was directed to do Physical Therapy 3 times per week. Her physicians were very happy to have her replace the therapy 2 days a week with dance classes. LeAnne Wilson, Laina’s mother, remembers the doctor saying “dance is very therapeutic and will give her the cardio and stretching that is critical for her condition”. It is also very important for her emotionally. “For those hours in the dance studio, Laina can put the pain behind her and focus on dance, friends, and her teachers”. In the 6 months since she has been diagnosed, her progress has been incredible. Her flexibility is improved and she is not taking any medications for pain.

As an accomplished athlete, Jessica Hanson, a Junior at Bethel Park High School, is often seen on the volleyball court or the track. That is in addition to 6 – 8 hours per week in the dance studio. A dancer since age 3, Jessica strongly feels that she is the athlete that she is, due to her dance training. Her coaches have indicated that she is very disciplined, and easily coached. “Jess knows how to take corrections, and immediately applies those corrections to her sport.” As part of dance group, she understands the need to work together. What is amazing is that Jessica has Scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. The continual training and exercise has helped with her overall health and may have kept her condition in check. Jessica is also a National Honor scholar. Sandy, Jessica’s mom, is convinced that the time management skills and years of memorizing complicated choreography has definitely helped with her school work. “You have to learn to prioritize and work efficiently when you have a full schedule.”

One thing that we hear over and over from our parents is that dance class gives the students a place to eliminate stress, even temporarily, that they may be dealing with. They are surrounded by supportive teachers, fellow dancers, and they are having fun. Emilee Green, age 9 from Mt Lebanon, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes, 6 months ago. As a result, she has to be tested for her blood sugar 7 – 10 times per day. She also receives 5 or 6 injections every day to keep her levels stable. Her doctors indicated that it is important for her to remain physically active, so she has continued dance classes, cheerleading, and softball. Tracey, Emilee’s mom, says “Dance makes staying active easy because it is something that she enjoys and she has so many good friends in class. We have great support from the staff and the other families. No one makes her feel different.”

So, dance class isn’t just about perfecting a pirouette or winning a Platinum award at a competition. It is about fitness, self-confidence, body awareness, teamwork, learning patterns (choreography), time-management, friendships, and so much more.


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Shari Opfermann,
Owner, Director
Caste Village Shoppes, Suite M-101
Baptist & Grove Roads
Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Phone: 412-884-5099
Fax: 412-884-5294
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