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Dancing for Mental Health Awareness
Dancers have different answers as to why they dance. Some do it for fun, to entertain, and others to express the pain of ourselves or others.
Living in Houston, Texas, so much goes on that I have a difficult time keeping up with events in the area. In June 2013, Belly Dancer Jennifer Galvez hosted The Mental Health Awareness Show at Avant Garden. It was a sold out performance. Although I could not attend the event, I was inspired by Galvez's movement to bring belly dance into the realm of mental health.
"I started planning this in January 2013", said Galvez, who took classes at Sylvia Salamanca's studio. Galvez, myself, and her partner Ms. Faith, sat and talked about an issue most don't want to discuss.
Galvez revealed a personal side that is difficult to share. However, she felt the need to explain how everything came to be. "I was in an abusive marriage", said Galvez, "my husband didn't want me to dance, so I stopped doing what I loved".
Her brother took his life last year. "He made me laugh all the time", she recalls. It was his death that made her realize how precious life is. "Every moment that I take a breath, I know I live", Galvez said.
After his death, she honored him by dancing. There is so much pain that a person goes through before taking their life. In the minds of many, there are illnesses that we are just beginning to understand.
"Breathe Me" by Sia, was performed by Galvez in recognition of her brother. "People connect to me, and I do let the audience know why I dance to the song".
As dancers, we have a unique way of expressing pain, love, and happiness. Our expression connects mind, body, and soul. What we do, how people see our movement, can bring a tear to someone's eye. The power to connect with others.
Galvez and Ms. Faith made the event possible. Ms. Faith danced to the song "Andi" by Kansas. Ms. Faith told me that Transgenders deal with a lot of mental pain and are treated differently in the community.
In total, there were ten acts. From abuse to identity disorder, Galvez's show served its purpose. "I also had free information about mental health for everyone who attended the show". Galvez is an artist and her work was on display. She is a professional clown and started entertaining as one since age fifteen.
Belly dancers used zills, props, and veils to honor their loved ones or themselves. Mr. M. Rhodes put together a great short piece film, capturing the highlights of the event. The link is provided. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMUOIIDozew&feature=youtu.be
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