Getty Images

College Counseling Resources: What They Are and Why Dancers Need Them

Your first semester as a college dance student can be hectic. But being busy is no reason to put your mental health on hold. In fact, the times when you feel totally overwhelmed by tasks and to-do lists are actually when your mental health is most important.

Luckily, most colleges have tons of on-campus resources for getting help with your mental wellness. Just as you would go to the PT if your ankle were suddenly bothering you, you should seek out counseling resources if you're feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed. DS talked to two college educators about the best ways to use your college counseling resources—and why it's important to do so.


University of Nevada Las Vegas dance student Ari Williams performing "Trying" (Josh Hawkins, courtesy UNLV)

Do Your Research

First things first: Find out what resources are available at your school. A lot of schools offer drop-in counseling centers, where you can quickly stop in (even without an appointment) to talk to a mental health professional after a particularly grueling rehearsal or stressful class.

Shannon Murphy, an adjunct professor at the University of the Arts who directs the Body Pathways curriculum for undergraduate dancers, says these drop-in services are crucial for dancers already juggling a busy schedule. "You never know when something concerning might come up," Murphy says.

In addition, lots of schools (including UArts) have individual counseling, for which you can make regular appointments, as well as medical professionals on call, in case you need help with any prescriptions or medications.

We know that researching mental health services might sound like extra homework, but it's way easier than that. Usually, the information you need is right in front of you. Louis Kavouras, the chair of the dance department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says that information about all of the UNLV counseling resources is listed on every syllabus they hand out. This is common practice at a lot of schools, so check your syllabus before you check anywhere else.

University of the Arts students performing "Monumental" in 2019 (Paula Court, courtesy University of the Arts)

Speak Up and Reach Out

Your dance teachers are a wealth of information—about way more than the difference between a contraction and an isolation. If you're really overwhelmed, find a faculty member you're comfortable with and ask them to point you in the right direction. They're there to help you grow as a dancer, and your mental health is a huge part of that.

Kavouras even encourages UNLV dance professors to look out for students who might be struggling. "I think students are quiet about it, because with this kind of pressure, a student starts closing up rather than opening up," Kavouras says, "So we've had faculty who simply take the student, walk them over to the office and introduce them to the staff there."

Ya Gotta Get Comfortable!

As dancers, we sometimes find it hard to admit that we're having a tough time, or to ask for help. After all, aren't we supposed to be superhero performers with perfect technique, who never have off days?

But remember that using the counseling resources available to you is only going to strengthen your dancing. "Be aware that your mental health is as much a part of your dancing as your physical health," Kavouras says. "Those two things go hand in hand. The mind and the body are intrinsically connected."

"Find the courage, or find a buddy that will walk into that office to help you go," Murphy says, "Whether it's a sore ankle or a sore spirit, the earlier you find help, the easier it is to figure out how to make a change."

Latest Posts


All photos by Joe Toreno. Grooming throughout by Lisa Chamberlain for The Rex Agency.

How Mark Kanemura—Artist, Activist, and All-Around Icon—Became Our Internet Dance Mascot

Twelve years ago, a baby-faced Mark Kanemura appeared on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 4. The Hawaiian-born dancer—whose winningly quirky style found a perfect vehicle in Sonya Tayeh's creepy-cool "The Garden" routine—quickly became a fan favorite. Kanemura made it to the Top 6 (Joshua Allen took the title that season), and a star was born.

But the world didn't know how bright that star was going to shine.

Fresh off "SYTYCD," Kanemura started booking jobs with Lady Gaga: first the MTV Video Music Awards, then the Jingle Bell Ball. Soon, he was a staple on Gaga's stages and in her videos, and he began to develop a dedicated fan base of his own.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Taylor Goldberg, Jordan Goldberg, and JT Church attending REVEL's virtual convention (courtesy Leslie Church)

What It's Like to Attend a Virtual Dance Convention

During this new era of social distancing, the dance world has gotten pretty creative. Tons of teachers, studios, competitions, and conventions have stepped up to the plate to help fill our living rooms with virtual dance content. But what's it really like to attend a dance convention online?

Dance Spirit followed JT Church, "Dancing With The Stars: Juniors" pro and "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation" runner-up, as he spent the weekend attending REVEL's "Rev-Virtual" online convention experience.

Hey guys! I have been a special guest faculty assistant for REVEL Dance Convention for the last four years. So I was excited to find out they'd be hosting a series of online convention weekends. With everything that's going on, I've been missing conventions so much. I knew it'd be great to be able to keep up my training.

Two of my best friends, Jordan and Taylor Goldberg—I dance with them at Club Dance—asked me to come over to their home studio so we could take REVEL's online classes together. Here's how it all went.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

It’s OK to Grieve: Coping with the Emotional Toll of Canceled Dance Events

Grace Campbell was supposed to be onstage this week. Selected for the Kansas City Ballet School's invitation-only Kansas City Youth Ballet, her performance was meant to be the highlight of her senior year. "I was going to be Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote, and also dance in a couple of contemporary pieces, so I was really excited," she says. A week later, the group was supposed to perform at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC. In May, Grace was scheduled to take the stage again KC Ballet School's "senior solos" show and spring performance.

Now, all those opportunities are gone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has consumed the dance community. The performance opportunities students have worked all year for have been devoured with it. Those canceled shows might have been your only chance to dance for an audience all year. Or they might have been the dance equivalent to a cap and gown—a time to be acknowledged after years of work.

You can't replace what is lost, and with that comes understandable grief. Here's how to process your feelings of loss, and ultimately use them to help yourself move forward as a dancer.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
contest
Enter the Cover Model Search