Physical Education students use dance to shed light on mental health awareness

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Physical Education students use dance to shed light on mental health awareness

Published on May 14 2014


Physical Education students have put their minds and bodies together to choreograph a creative dance video.

As part of a thesis course which focuses on Dance and Social Justice within the Physical Education program, eight undergraduate students worked together to produce a dance video that takes the viewer through the stages of mental illness.

"The course is based on several pedagogical foundations to help facilitate meaningful outcomes for the students,” says Janet Westbury, course instructor and movement specialist in the Dept. of Kinesiology at Brock University.   

"Experiential and transformative learning, coupled with constructivism create a socially relevant and responsive environment."  

In this course, students are encouraged to use dance as a way to create meaning that can be used to interpret concepts related to social justice.

Utilizing an empowering approach to pedagogy, the students were engaged in a transformative experience through meaningful experiential learning in the medium of dance.

In the video, students demonstrate a series of emotional stages that include loneliness to denial, exclusion to labeling followed and finally a feeling overwhelmed. 

“Talking about many social justice issues can sometimes be a struggle, but being able to express our thoughts and emotions through dance has been very beneficial when there is a loss of words,” explained Nicole Altseimer, who was part of the group working on the video.

“When you express movement with the body, the message stems from the depth of your soul, allowing the dancer to release their inner emotions and feelings.”

Students were given a chance to choose any relevant social justice topic, in the past; groups have covered a number of topics including human trafficking, and domestic violence.

But, mental health was top of mind for this group.

“After we became more aware and knowledgeable on the various social justice topics, as a group we decided on which one we were agreeably most passionate about,” says Altseimer. 

“Mental health is something that everyone one of us have experienced in some way or another.”

In inquire further about movement courses at Brock, please contact Janet Westbury.

Brock University, Physical Education, Janet Westbury

As part of a Dance and Social Justice course within the Physical Education program, eight undergraduate students worked together to produce a video representation of issues related to mental illness in the university setting.