August 25, 2021
Dear MDU Families,
Thank you for a great kick-off to our 24th season of “More Than Just Great Dancing!”. We are now a full week into our season and it has been amazing to see kids and families back in the building.
As the leader of our studio community, I have the great joy of seeing the excitement of the kids and teacher returning to class. I also have the great responsibility of navigating a continuously changing situation as it relates to Covid-19.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, MDU has provided clear communication and real-time decision-making. This has allowed us to offer continuous programming with only .0002% incidence of Covid-19 while providing consistent access to the benefits of dance such as physical fitness, social-emotional health, and mental wellness. That’s the joy part!
Now for the responsibility part. At MDU, we make all of our Covid-related decisions based on a variety of inputs, including local and national sources, as well as industry and studio data. I wake up every morning, search the data, and track the trends. I also consult with our county, speak with other community leaders, and pray for wisdom. I’m pleased to say that MDU is still doing extremely well in terms of cases as shared above. That’s why we began our fall season by continuing our summer policy of mask recommendation, not a requirement. Our community, however, is not doing as well. The cases reported yesterday morning were double what they were the week prior and the 7-day average is one we have not seen since February.
In my Welcome Letter from one week ago, I shared that we would escalate our policies if cases continue to rise. As such, beginning today (8/25/21), the following mitigation measures are being implemented:
We will continue monitoring the situation week by week and will make you aware of any changes. If community cases continue to rise, potential escalation of policies may include closing the lobby to reduce traffic, further limiting class sizes, greater physical distancing requirements in classes, and/or masking requirements for all ages.
In closing, I fully understand this message will cause relief for some and disappointment for others. Some will think it’s too much and others may think it’s not enough. This is the nature of the times we live in. But, it’s also in our nature to adapt and to support each other. Our kids are mirrors of our reactions and emotions, so let’s focus on what’s positive! In a time when our community is welcoming Afghan refugees who have lost all, we have much to be thankful for. Thank YOU for your support!
Most parents know that when they have a dancer in the house, they have a child who seemingly thinks about dance all day long. They spin through their conversations with you, search endlessly for new dance music and continually hike their legs high on the walls to get a good stretch. Sometimes just watching them can tire you out.
But there’s good news that comes with having dance on the brain. Dance not only increases feel-good hormones like seratonin and endorphins just like other forms of exercise; it also changes the way you think. Just as dance exercises and stretches the body, it also exercises the mind, making it stronger, faster, more flexible and more capable.
Studies around dance and its effects on the brain are on the rise, especially as researchers are discovering its usefulness in warding off and treating neurological disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease and as therapy for development and mood disorders. Here’s how it works.
Dancing increases neuroplasticity. Learning to dance requires the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex to rewire. When this happens on a consistent basis, new neural pathways are frequently being formed. These new neural paths build different paths for transmitting information, so you can not only transmit more quickly but by creating many paths for accessing that information, you have more ways to get there.
Think about that in the context of making a decision or remembering something important. If you only have one pathway to get from recognizing the need for information and it’s not terribly reliable, you have a problem. But if you have several high-performance pathways, you have multiple ways to reach a good outcome.
Studies have also shown that dancing is the best exercise to improve cognitive skills at any age. More effective than crossword puzzles and reading, frequent dancers enjoy a 76 percent reduced risk of developing dementia.
And get this. Because dance requires several brain functions operating at the same time, it requires complete presence to the moment—the very definition of meditation but without the conscious effort to meditate. And we all know how good meditation is for reducing stress and increasing focus.
So next time your child starts up with the dance moves, you may just want to join them.
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