Dancing escape

I can imagine there are lots of young girls in prosperous nations whose parents enroll them in dance classes that they then complain about, because complaining is endemic amidst great prosperity. and then I see this photo:

young Kenyan girls doing ballet on a dirt floor in a dim room

The photographer, Fredrik Lerneryd of Sweden, gives background:

“Every Wednesday at Spurgeons Academy, a school in the middle of the indecipherable maze of Kibera’s narrow streets and alleys, students take the chairs and benches out of a classroom and sweep the floor. The school uniforms are switched to bright-colored clothes. When teacher Mike Wamaya enters the classroom, the students get into position and place one hand on the concrete wall as though it were a ballet bar. Classical music plays out of a small portable speaker, and the class begins. The ballet class is part of Annos Africa and One Fine Day’s charity activities in slum areas around Kenya….The dance is a way for the children to express themselves and it strengthens [both] their confidence in life and a belief that they can become something great.”

In addition to the various benefits mentioned by Lerneryd, I imagine that one of the great gifts that dance provides for these girls is a physically challenging focus that can both engross and free the mind. Dance is an activity well suited to helping a person enter the state called “flow,” a concept made popular by psychologist¬†Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I’m not sure that ballet is in my future, but I’d be happy to recreate times in my life when I’ve achieved a state of flow. Are there activities that help you get there? Read more about the experience of flow here.

Lerneryd’s photo is on the shortlist for the award for Contemporary Issues [Professional], in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. See more of the photographs on the shortlist


[Image: Fredrik Lerneryd]

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