This Outreach Program Proves That Dance is a Powerful Healing Tool

PC Alex Zou

As dancers, we know that movement has major healing powers. But one New York-based artist is showing the world just how powerful dance can be.

Eryc Taylor, director of Eryc Taylor Dance, began a movement workshop at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health four years ago. From there, his outreach work has grown exponentially: his company now leads 17 workshops a week all across New York City, working with mental health patients, people living in supportive housing, chemotherapy patients and addicts. The dancers have even traveled to Mexico, where they led workshops with orphans who've been abused.

Taylor built the workshops using elements of improvisation, Pilates, gyrokinesis and hip hop, and varies the energy of the classes based on the needs of the students. He also draws on personal experience: "Dance helped me through a lot of dark times in my past," he says. "It was really therapeutic during hardships I faced growing up."

"I get choked up when I think about how many peoples' lives I've had an impact on," Taylor says. "In one group, there were all these women who never spoke to each other. Afterward, they started their own walking group." For some clients, the benefits are purely physical: John, a patient at PCMH, was so locked up in his neck when he started the workshops that he couldn't get down to the floor. By the end, he was holding plank pose and doing pushups.

Get a glimpse of Taylor's work in action at the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Uptown Arts Stroll on Friday, June 2, where former dancers living in supportive housing will perform a piece inspired by their experience in Taylor's workshops.

Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

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What Dancers Eat
Lindsay Thomas

Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.

So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?

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Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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