When she is stressed out, Ashley Griffiths likes to dance.
The Grade 10 Belmont secondary student said she and more than 80 students bared their souls while wearing their dancing shoes at a recent recital in the school’s newly minted theatre.
“When you are dancing you kind of just block out everything and you just think about yourself and what you are doing as you’re dancing,” she says. “So you don’t really focus on anything else, (just) your body and your moves and how you’re feeling at that moment.”
With exams coming and the stresses of being a high school student rising, 15-year-old former Spencer middle schooler turns to the dance.
“Some people read, some people take a break, but for me when I dance it kind of relaxes me. It helps me out … and I don’t have to worry about other things,” she says. “But you definitely have to prepare yourself physically. You have to be ready emotionally for when you go on stage … (But) it doesn’t matter what other people think, it only matters how you feel.”
Four classes danced three numbers each in what Griffiths called a celebration of dance in the school’s 300-seat theatre at last Saturday’s recital.
Instructor Lesley Conway, who returned to lead her fifth year of dance at the school, says being part of that program is a big commitment for students. But everyone involved, from those who dance every day to those new to dancing, have been working hard.
“Dance is one way that really helps students (see) that there is another part of life you can do just because you enjoy it,” says Conway. “Especially in school, a lot of school is math and science and they can come to dance and express themselves with movement.”
The class has been popular, prompting the addition of an extra block next semester. Not only that, it has provided students with a positive environment, promotes the arts, healthy living, being active and having a positive self image says Conway.
“I have seen a huge improvement in most of the dancers in the program.” She says her students worked hard to prepare for the recent show and really focused their efforts this month.