Samaritan Center Introduces Dance for Mental Health Class

This past spring, Samaritan Center held its first Dance for Mental Health program, taught by Renée Kurz, LPC, BC-DMT. As one of the Center’s therapists at its new downtown location on North Market Street, Renée became acquainted with the owner of Move It Studios, two floors below the Center. She began to conceptualize the idea to offer a class that would bring together her love of dance with her experience as a dance/movement therapist. The six-week pilot program was geared towards women in the local community, regardless of prior dance experience, and focused on offering movement experiences to support releasing stress and tension in the body, reconnecting with oneself, and restoring a sense of vitality.

On Friday, April 19, participants came in with an intentional mindset, open to a new experience over the course of the next six weeks. “The women spanned all different age groups, life stages, and career backgrounds. Despite their differences, it was encouraging to witness them all finding common ground,” Renée observes. “They were seen with compassionate eyes by others and learned to be fully present in the moment,” she continues. As the class progressed, Renée was encouraged by the feedback she heard from the participants, as many shared that they would think of the class during the week and be reminded to hold space for themselves. The women also appreciated the intimate setting and the sense of a close-knit community. Throughout the six weeks, Renée watched as the participants became more comfortable and even expressed feeling nourished. “Many were always caring for others – and now had the space to care for themselves,” she explains.

When the class wrapped, the feedback was unanimous: participants looked forward to attending each week and the connection they were able to build with others. One participant expressed appreciation for the course as it had allowed her to release tension and restore time for herself amid the noise of everyday life. Another commented that the course provided a safe space to move, feel, reflect, and connect with yourself in a unique way. One of the women described the class as “transformational”, voicing gratitude for the opportunity to witness her fellow participants in their deep expressions of joy, hope, suffering, and determination. All expressed an interest in attending the class again in the future.

As she reflects on the debut Dance for Mental Health program, Renée is reaffirmed by the experience and the chance to teach participants to hold space for themselves. “I listened to the needs that presented themselves as we supported each other in meaningful and compassionate ways,” she says. “It’s impactful to know that we will carry this powerful encounter with us – and it was reassuring to see that it did meet the needs of women in our community,” Renée continues. Looking ahead, she plans to offer another Dance for Mental Health class in the fall. We invite you to keep an eye on our social media for more information in the coming months!

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