Every Wednesday from 1:30pm to 3:00pm you will hear loud music pumping from the Belconnen Community Service (BCS) Gym. If you were to peak through the doors you would see around 30 people moving to the music, in a Dance Club led by BCS program officer Risa.
The BCS Dance club is a dance class for adults living with mild to moderate disability.
Risa said “I have a loose structure; everyone can kind of do what they want”.
The class will usually start with structured lessons and end with a freestyle section, letting the participants get a little wild, and move however they want.
Risa said the Dance club had really grown over the past six months. What had usually been a cohort of around 18 to 20 participants had climbed to an average of 30 people in the club.
“It’s never been this big before”.
Risa said “we get a mix of a lot of participants that come to a lot of the other programs here, so there are already existing social networks”.
The club doesn’t focus on one particular style of dance. The group could work on Hip Hop, and move on to Bollywood, before switching to some partner dancing.
Risa said “I like to focus on a lot of different things, and get them to direct their own leaning as well. So, if they want to learn a dance or a movement … from a different culture, or from a different decade [we will]”.
But it’s not all about learning how to shine on the dance floor.
“I like to try and bring in some conscious attitudes and ways of thinking about the body in a different way. It’s not just movement, but also thinking about rhythm, and the relationship between music and movement”.
And the act of dancing and learning to be expressive through the body has shown a leap in the confidence levels of the participants.
“For a lot of people getting into your body can be difficult, can be arduous, and can feel like a chore. But music and movement in the context of dance and self-expression can really inspire people”.
Risa said a “human existence is a physical existence”.
She said the things people learned through their bodies, and in the dance class often corresponded to other parts of their lives.
“Dance pulls in personality, pulls in sound from music, and movement in the body. Flexibility, strength and spirit and emotion – it really brings a lot of those things together”.
When people joined the Dance Club, feeling a little shy or insecure Risa said they very quickly opened up after seeing the rest of the group. Watching the class be expressive and confident, has helped break down any hesitation newcomers might feel.
That’s what Risa said she loves about the Club.
“So many of them aren’t inhibited in how they express themselves, which is really different. There are a lot of adults who really don’t feel comfortable, they get insecure about looking funny, but a lot of the participants aren’t like that. They’re happy to give it a go and just get into it”.
Risa said no one should be nervous to join the club. She encouraged everyone to give it a go, and connect with other people and their own bodies.
“Your body is your tool. Everybody has their own body, everything you experience in your life is experienced through the body, and so you giving yourself the time for your body to move, for your body to express itself, for your body to have a stretch, have a dance and communicate with other people, why not? It’s the best thing you can do for yourself.”
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