Mental Health Benefits of Dance

MyBump2Baby Expert Podcast


  • Mental Health Benefits of Dance

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Baby & toddler dance classes are a fun and interactive way to have fun whilst making sure that your little one gets the exercise they need. When it comes to dance there is no right age to begin dance classes, the fact is if your little one can move, they can dance.

The sooner children start dancing, the sooner they start to feel the benefits. There are lots of benefits when it comes to taking your little one to a dance class, and some of the benefits are: It helps children develop their strength and stamina whilst improving coordination and flexibility.

Today we talk about the mental benefits of dance and how going to your local dance class can help every member of the family. For this episode, we are joined by expert Lindsay, the co-founder of Oris Dance.

Oris Dance Website:

To book your toddler and preschool classes with Oris Dance:

To find your nearest classes on MyBump2Baby visit the link below:

Carla (00:01.058)
Hello everybody and welcome to My Bump 2 Baby Expert Podcast. Today I am delighted to be joined by the lovely Lindsay from Oris Dance and we’re going to be talking all about mental health and dancing and the benefits that you can have as a parent and your children can have through dance. So hello Lindsay, how are you?

Lindsay (00:23.158)
Hi Carla, I’m good, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Carla (00:26.282)
I’m really excited to have you on here, Lindsay. So tell us a little bit about you if you don’t mind.

Lindsay (00:33.09)
Yeah, no problem. So yeah, I’m Lindsay Downard. I’ve been dancing all my life as a hobbyist. And yeah, I got to late teens and did some teaching qualifications. Didn’t wanna go down the professional route, but did want to teach. And then in 2007, a friend and I, Zoe, I’ve got to mention Zoe, my partner, we opened Oris Dance together. And when you said that you wanted to talk about mental health, I thought,

Carla (00:54.303)

Lindsay (01:02.582)
That’s a really good topic for us because the ethos behind opening Norris Dance was to create a really relaxed, fun environment for children to dance in. So I think as children ourselves, we had often come across dance schools that felt very regimented, very strict. You know, unfortunately, some of that still goes on today. We’ve seen in the media recently the stories around British gymnastics and, you know, things getting a little bit…

heated there and children being treated not so very well. So for us it was important to create an environment where the dance is still the main part of the school, but it’s almost secondary to the fun and the community feel, which is the most important thing for us.

Carla (01:52.282)
love that because as a child it’s just so nice to be able to express yourself without actually worrying about what you look like and you know we do that enough later in life don’t we so it’s so nice that children can do that.

Lindsay (02:06.494)
Yeah and my partner Zoe, she partner at the dance school I should say, we came up with the name Aorus, she came up with it and it actually means expression in Latin so we thought you know again and it’s kind of you know dances accessible to anyone come and express Aorus dance.

Carla (02:21.993)

Carla (02:26.654)
It is. It is. So what’s… What’s… Sorry, Lindsay, what’s the youngest people have come with their little ones to your dance classes?

Lindsay (02:36.078)
So for many years it was children started around three or four and then about two years ago we opened Little Aorus which is an arm of the main dance school but Little Aorus is specifically for toddlers and preschool and we thought it’d be really nice to open it up to an even younger audience to help firstly with the transition when they go into what we call the main school so once they’re sort of flooring onwards.

But Zoe and I are both parents now. Zoe’s got a seven year old boy, I’ve got a three year old girl. And through going to parent and baby classes ourselves, we thought how nice would it be if we could offer something for the children in our community, you know, new moms in our community. So that’s what we did. So we’ve now got children from toddling really, so from around 20 months that come along.

Carla (03:28.226)
So cute, oh it’s so lovely, I took my little girl to a dance class for the first time, she’s only two, the weekend just gone and you know she absolutely loved it, it was amazing. Oh it’s just so lovely and it’s a good way to get them into dance as well, I bet a lot of them end up following on and carrying on with you guys if they really enjoy it.

Lindsay (03:40.842)

Lindsay (03:51.798)
Yeah, I mean we’re super lucky. We do have quite a long tenure with most of our students really. We’ve just said goodbye to Ruby and Grace. So Ruby and Grace have been with us since they were three. They’ve just gone off to university. So yeah, it’s lovely to build those sort of long lasting relationships with them. And yeah, we hope that some of the one and two year olds that we’ve got with us now, you know, hopefully they’ll be with us for many years to come as well.

Carla (04:17.27)
so nice, such a community feel that I love that. So Lindsay, in terms of dance then, what developmental milestones can parents expect their babies to achieve through dance classes?

Lindsay (04:20.542)
That’s what we’re trying to create.

Lindsay (04:32.374)
Yeah, I mean, obviously loads. You know, we all know the mental health benefits of dance for any age. So, you know, from the release of endorphins to improve memory, to confidence and community and bonding, you know, self-esteem, there’s so many things that can be gained from doing something like dance. But for babies in particular, our classes are designed to stimulate both physical and cognitive development. So.

Carla (04:34.901)

Lindsay (05:00.686)
Parents can expect milestones like improved motor skills or improved rhythm, things like balance. And then from a cognitive development point of view, things like increased social interaction. Our group involves activities which encourage communication and cooperation. Again, it prepares children for going into a classroom environment when they’re a little bit older.

We quite often see that the first week or two, you know, it’s completely normal for a child to just cling to mum or dad or just watch from the sidelines and we’re fine with that, we let them do what they’re comfortable with but you can guarantee within two, three, four weeks they’re in there in the centre of it all. So it’s really nice to see that confidence building as well.

Carla (05:50.618)
Oh, that’s so nice. And I bet it’s really beneficial for the parents as well because it can be pretty lonely being a parent, especially if you’re on maternity leave or one of the other parents might be working and it’s like, oh well. And people get nervous, don’t they, going to classes? But they’re so friendly, the environment’s in them and you can meet some amazing friends, can’t you, through going to classes.

Lindsay (06:14.51)
Absolutely and we’ve seen it happen. I mean, I know some of us go for coffee together now I know they go to each other’s children’s parties and things like that. It does create friendships And I think it gives parents confidence as well when they see that they’re bringing their children along and they can witness The development in their own child, you know, it makes them feel okay. I’m doing something right and then equally if they’re Interacting with other parents that are struggling with certain elements, you know, we know being

A parent is tough, there’s things that aren’t easy, but to see others are going through those similar scenarios as well, it helps I think.

Carla (06:52.578)
I think so because I think, I mean I do talk about this quite a bit but on social media everything’s so perfect sometimes and you’ve got to remember that we’re all showing what we want people to see. So this morning I had a bit of a meltdown because my little boy wouldn’t get ready for school and you know but I don’t put that on social media but it happened you know and that’s real life and I think that’s it like what you said. When people go to baby groups and have chats with parents it’s nice to actually hear.

that someone else is also going through a similar situation or they’re not sleeping that great and things like that. Not nice to hear, but it makes you feel a bit like, oh, it is normal. It doesn’t have to be picture perfect all the time.

Lindsay (07:33.13)
Of course and I think even if you do have one of those bad mornings, I mean our classes run on a Saturday morning and you know if you’ve had a bad start to the day you then get into the class and you interact with others and you put some music on and you know the world seems a better place again.

Carla (07:49.334)
Yeah, yeah, it sounds great. So with your classes then, what age group do you cover? Obviously you start very young. What age group do you go right up to then?

Lindsay (08:01.15)
Our oldest dancer at the moment, so we go all the way through to adults, and our oldest one is in their late seventies. Yeah, again, our philosophy on opening was we wanted to make dance accessible to everybody. And I think we’re pretty close to achieving that, certainly in terms of age anyway.

Carla (08:07.694)
Oh, that’s lovely. That is so nice.

Carla (08:16.888)

Carla (08:23.798)
And can you offer any tips or advice that parents could use at home when it comes to dance?

Lindsay (08:31.838)
Yeah, I mean, you know, I always say what we do in the class doesn’t stop when you leave class. You know, there’s stuff that we do in class that parents can take home and do with their children in the living room. You know, I dance around the kitchen with my little one when we’re baking or getting dinner ready or, you know, there’s always things that you can do at home to make it fun. Even just, you know, sometimes I struggle to exercise, I enjoy exercising and when you’ve got a little one with you, it’s so hard to fit.

trips to the gym and things in. But you know, sometimes we’ll sit down on the floor and we’ll do some stretches that we’ve done at dancing, you know, make it into a bit of a game, do it together. So yeah, I think there’s plenty of things you can do at home.

Carla (09:12.258)
Yeah, that’s great. That’s so nice. And have you got any feedback or testimonials from parents that have shared ways that they’ve seen positive benefits from dance classes, your dance classes?

Lindsay (09:24.658)
Yeah, I mean absolutely everything that I talked about before, all of those benefits we’ve seen in real life, they’re all true life. You know, parents saying that they’ve seen their children’s confidence come on, seen their social interactions develop, motor skills improve, you know, all of that is, you know, it happens.

Carla (09:48.858)
It sounds so good, your classes. So can you tell us a little bit more about what type of dance you guys do and a little bit more about how people can find you as well?

Lindsay (10:00.382)
Yeah so we’re a stage school dance so we practice ballet tap and modern. We do annual exams so we’re really proud of our 100% pass rate. Children do an exam at the end of each year and then the work that they’ve learnt in that exam we showcase in a summer show every July and we do that at the St Helens Theatre Royal. We’re based in St Helens in Merseyside.

We’re affiliated with the Allied Dancing Association that’s also a North West based organisation. So they’re really supportive, like I say, they provide examinations but also teaching qualifications and things as well that we’ve got some of our own students through. In fact, two of our teachers that work with us now, our ex-students, they’ve gone all the way through the ranks. They’ve got their teaching qualifications and Ellie and Rachel, better give a shout out to them.

with us every week.

Carla (10:58.03)
Hello, Ellie and Rachel. Yeah. Oh, wow. That is so good. So what made you decide to move into the dance world yourself then? Was it that you’ve always done dancing and you just kind of thought I’m gonna go for it?

Lindsay (11:14.778)
always done it. Yeah like I say I’ve got teaching qualifications in my late teens and I think what makes Orish unique is there’s five of us that teach. I’ve mentioned Zoe, Ellie, Rachel, we’ve also got Angela who’s an ex-parent. Her son came for many years, he was another one that was about three when he started, went all the way through the school and then left to go to college at 17, 18. So yeah, she’s now come on.

Carla (11:20.599)

Carla (11:40.066)

Lindsay (11:42.898)
as part of the team because she’s a special needs TA. So, you know, she really helps us out with all the children. She does a lot of one-to-one with anybody that’s struggling or got extra needs. So yeah, that’s me. Sorry, I’ve forgotten the question now. I’m waffling.

Carla (11:56.142)

Oh, sorry, just asking about your basically how you got into the dance side of things. So…

Lindsay (12:08.105)
Yeah, so yeah, Zoe and I set up AORUS in 2007. But what makes, I’ve lost it now, Carla, here’s a bit of all of this.

Carla (12:16.234)
No, don’t worry. Don’t worry. I’ve got the time. So don’t worry about that. We’ll start again. No, it’s just because don’t worry. We’re just having a good chat about it. So yeah. So what made you then decide to launch your business, Oris Dance?

Lindsay (12:32.558)
So yeah, we’re a bit unique at Oris Dance in that all of the teachers have got other careers so we’ve all got jobs throughout the week. And then Wednesday evenings are our adult classes and then Saturdays we spend the whole day at the dance school. So yeah, it’s just, it sounds a little bit cliché and a bit cheesy I suppose, but it was just the passion of it.

Carla (12:41.622)

Lindsay (12:56.502)
We all got these teaching qualifications. We all got to an age where, you know, most people would drift away because they’re busy with work and families and whatever. We just didn’t want to stop. And as I said at the start, we’d witnessed a lot of schools where we just didn’t like the atmosphere. We found that, you know, parents often found them a little bit too regimented. And don’t get me wrong, if you want your child to be on the West End by age 10, or you want to get them into the Royal Ballet or something like that.

they’re going to need a very structured dance education for many hours a week. But at the other end of the scale there’s a lot of children that we were coming across that are just hobbyists like us and just want to have a week for fun without all the stress. You know again as we said at the beginning children have enough stress at school and you know just the fast pace of life in 2024. We wanted to create something a little bit different that was just purely hobby an hour a week and great fun.

Carla (13:37.752)

Carla (13:56.894)
It sounds so good. And do you find dancing helps your mental health? Personally, yeah.

Lindsay (14:01.278)
Absolutely, yeah absolutely. I mean you know we’ve all had our down moments and things but you know you get up on a Saturday morning, I mean sometimes you know if it’s dull and rainy and cold the last thing you want to do is get up after a week of getting up for work and getting your calm and go out again to dancing but I can guarantee the second that you walk into the hall and you’re mixing with all the children and you put some music on like your mood is just

Carla (14:30.218)
It’s funny you say that about music because we’ve just started putting the radio on in the morning and I know that sounds ridiculous but there’s something about music that just makes everything just feel a little bit more joyful in the morning and everything just seems to run a bit better when there’s a bit of background music. I like smooth myself but yeah it really does make a difference doesn’t it?

Lindsay (14:55.726)
It does and that’s a huge benefit of dance. We all know that exercise has got positive connotations with mental health. Well, dance is music plus exercise. There’s always some music, especially the kind of dance that we do. It’s all the stage stuff. So you’re belting out songs from musicals and things like that. It’s great.

Carla (15:17.55)
so good. The thing is as well, it’s like, I mean I get quite exercise wise, I get a bit bored of going to the gym, I’m not really, I’ll go for a run or whatever but if someone said you could just stick a song on, you know, and just dance away if no one could see you, I would absolutely, I mean you can do that can’t you? Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’ve got access to those things in our house that are gonna make us feel good.

Lindsay (15:44.182)
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, just throw some music on and yeah, dance like no one’s watching. Yeah.

Carla (15:49.566)
Yeah, exactly, exactly. Well, you want to see me dance, it needs to be no one watching, honestly. When I’ve had a glass of wine with my friends actually, I seem to think that I’ve got great rhythm, but I haven’t. But you know, it’s all about having a bit of fun, isn’t it? And that’s the main part of it.

Lindsay (16:05.43)
Yeah, if it’s good, we always say our best choreography comes after a glass of wine as well.

Carla (16:11.446)
Oh yeah, I bet, I bet. So Lindsay, it’s been so lovely to have you on here and learn all about your amazing company. I love it, I love the sound of it, it sounds like a great place to go so thank you so much for being our guest today.

Lindsay (16:27.53)
Thanks for having me. It’s been great.

Carla (16:29.774)
Oh, thank you. What we’ll do is we’ll pop Lindsay’s links underneath this podcast, so you can click straight through to Lindsay’s class and book in and enjoy your Saturday at Lindsay’s class. I might even make a visit myself. Thanks. I’ve just stopped that now.

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