Dancing Through Life

October 13, 2023

One of the areas that Julie Nichols, our Recreation Program Manager, and Chris Holling, our Recreation Supervisor for Youth Enrichment & Arts, began to focus on a couple of years ago was the creation of a Dance program at the Park District that filled a need in the community.

After running some free workshops and talking with those participants to better understand what they wanted from the district, they built a program that grew to include more than 200 dancers—in just 9 months. Is it fun? You bet. Is it providing a place for young performers to express themselves? Without a doubt. Is it successful? On more levels than you would think.

Dance is one of the Performing Arts that benefits all ages in ways that go way beyond just physical strength, movement, and flexibility. In our program, dancers learn about good nutrition and how to combine that with proper stretching and strengthening routines. Dancing is an excellent outlet for their creativity, and they get support for that from their peers. That builds self-confidence and self-esteem which can carry over into so many other areas of their lives.

Our Spring 2023 Dance Recital, held onstage at Northwood Middle School, was attended by more than 400 of the dancers’ family members and friends. Confidence poured from the stage. That’s what a well-crafted program can do when it’s run by Park District staff who care deeply for the participants. We know that many of our Cultural and Performing Arts programs are the first step on the road to the next level. That’s what you’ve told us you want, and that’s how the programs are designed. But even if your child is a budding Yo-Yo Ma, or Baryshnikov, or Kristin Chenoweth, they need a place to start where they get the support they need—and still have fun. That’s us. That’s what we do, every day.

Just as our Music program feeds the brain, so does our Dance program. And while your dancing brain is lighting up, here are some other well-documented things that are happening:

We hope knowing some of that makes you want to get up and dance. We’ll join you down at the Ozdust Ballroom!

2 Science confirms: Dancing makes you happy. Read the article here.