Q&a with Afon Community Director Louise Prosser
Dancing our way Through Lockdown
Here at Valleys Steps we like to share anything that can improve your well being and quality of life. Last week we spoke with Louise Prosser, the Artistic Director of Afon Community Dance, a non-profit organisation, which delivers dance sessions for all ages and abilities throughout South Wales. Louise has worked within the community dance sector for nearly 30 years and is passionate about increasing participation in dance through community settings, schools, care homes and special education, by providing dance projects and workshops on a regular basis. A team of professional and experienced dance practitioners support Louise delivering a weekly programme of 30+ regular dance workshops.
Hi Louise, thanks for spending time to talk to Valleys Steps, how does participating in dance sessions improve health and well-being?
Dance and music have been fundamental elements of our lives for thousands of years and we all have the natural instinct of wanting to move to the beat when a feel-good soundtrack is played. Everyone can dance and can enjoy the freedom of movement, whether it’s in your living room, garden or in a dance studio.
I am aware last week was, ‘Mental Awareness Week’, and as well as making you stronger, improving your posture and flexibility, dancing also improves your mood, lowers stress and anxiety.
So dancing on your own or in a group has a positive effect on us in different ways?
Yes, participating in a dance class on a regular basis can reduce anxiety and depression, combat the feeling of isolation and improve confidence and self-esteem. Lots of mood improving chemicals are released within your body when you dance, you may start the class feeling tired and lethargic but by the end of the session, you have so much more energy and feel more alert.
Some people find it difficult to talk about how they are feeling, how can dance help with this?
Dance is also a form of communication and is a wonderful way to express yourself, if you are going through difficult times in your life, dance can help give you the outlet to release emotions in a positive and constructive way. You can completely emerge yourself into the movement and have the time to focus on your body and mind, helping you to have the space to deal with any issues or troubles. It can also give you the opportunity to talk to other participants about what’s on your mind as the social element of attending a dance class is as important as the practical session. It’s good to have a catch up before and after and feel support within the group.
Lots of people have been affected by the pandemic, what have Afon Community Dance been doing to help people cope with these challenging times?
Afon has faced a number of challenges during this surreal time, but Covid-19 is not going to stop us staying connected with our wonderful dancers!! Our Zoom and online sessions are a regular weekly feature for our participants. It’s so important for our young people, families and our older adults still have the opportunity to talk to each other, have a catch-up and a wiggle and giggle together. I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the Afon team, especially Rhian Lowe and Samantha Kelland, for their commitment and hard work whilst providing the online dance sessions and of course thank you to all of our dancers for their continued support during this difficult time. Thank you Valleys Steps for taking the time to chat to me.
For more information on Afon Community Dance visit www.afondance.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Credit: Header photo by SpringBox Photography
By Paul Griffiths
Lead Course Wellbeing Practitioner