Healing Through Dance
by Matthew T. Preston
If most people understand that a good amount of time, passion and skill goes into all types of dancing, they wouldn’t be wrong. However, they may not realize that even if those components are part of their natural talents, they can still enjoy multiple benefits in letting their natural energy combine with dance movement. Avianna Meck with the Movement Magic Dance Studio, in Pitman, helps people learn that this as not just a matter of profession, but also passion.
“I find that actions speak louder than words,” Meck explains. “You can talk and talk for hours and people may listen to you and people may not; but if you get them moving, you can teach them more just through moving without any words.”
This logic goes a long way in helping individuals improve their wellness at all levels, whether mental, physical or spiritual. The classes themselves emphasize natural movement within a group setting without the confines of choreographed dancing. Specifically, Meck’s technique focuses on “developing rhythm and self-expression through movement,” which allows her clients to not feel confined by their fears or reluctant to express themselves freely.
The importance of this couldn’t be more obvious today as the day-to-day stresses individuals sustain for any number of reasons makes methods like tribal fusion belly-dance all the more vital in improving their well-being.
“I think there’s just a lot of pressure on people these days to perform,” she elaborates. “I think people can get trapped by an idea that you have to be a certain way, perform at a certain level, have all these things in their lives and their life has to be this picture-perfect stamp… I think this is a problem, and with dance it’s very healing and brings you back to who you are.”
Incorporating these styles of dance into a class setting is a profound way to help people at all points in their lives be able to heal from physical or other traumas. Tribal fusion belly-dance itself is a modern Western version of the movement, where artists are said to “frequently incorporate elements from popping, hip hop” and others, that aid in the wellness of its practitioners. And this only augments how Meck helps her clients in learning these methods and more.
Many of these lessons Meck had to learn on her own as she went through her journey. “I grew up in New Mexico and I was a competitive dancer; I took ballet, jazz, hip hop, flamenco… and over time, my feet became deformed,” she explains, describing the physical pitfalls associated with performing at the high level that she did for years. “But it was awesome. I love dancing and music, and I loved the different shows and experience of it, but it was very hard on my body.”
Eventually she met her teacher and mentor, Priestess Shoshana. “I met her at an event where she was doing a belly-dance performance, and I fell in love with it… and I started taking classes with her, and it really helped me with my feet and it helped my body start to heal.” As life moved on, they had fallen out of touch, and as various issues began to resurface again, Meck reached back out to Shoshana and ended up moving near her to take classes, both ending up in New Jersey.
From there belly dancing classes became a mainstay of Meck’s healing once more; however, it wasn’t just with her, but with women around her as well that were benefiting from these practices and movements. “My core muscles began to strengthen, my knees started to get better; and like any healthy practice my emotions began to balance out and I began to think more clearly.” So it wasn’t that hard a decision to bring these lessons and more to a class setting to help those that need it.
The benefits aren’t just related to improving an individual’s health, but can also help in the artistic expression of kids looking to explore such practices as well. It’s in Meck’s three-week-long Summer Dance Camp for Kids that they learn the history of dance, various techniques and other components of stagecraft including “prop making, set design, hair and makeup.” This is a great way to bring the practical, healing and expressive nature of belly-dance and more together to benefit people of all ages.
Movement Magic Dance Studio is located at 5 N. Broadway, in Pitman, New Jersey. For more information including camp and other class schedules, call 856-553-5123 or visit Movement-Magic.com.