Nurtured Dancers Wellness Center Start-Up
Organized by: Carrie Darnell
Nurtured Dancers Wellness Center will strive to teach the families in our community to nurture their bodies and minds through movement and knowledge. Over the last 12 years I have been given opportunities to share my passions and practices with many students throughout the West Coast, and I am now ready to take the next step, making these teachings my full time focus! After lots of research and feedback, we have made a decision on a facility that will make it possible for us to bring dance and wellness to as many people and PLACES as possible! Here’s what we need our funds for: - Sprung sub floor (for bodily health & safety) - Finished wood floor - Ballet Barre - Mirror - Insurance - Down payment for facility - and more! Here’s my story: There are so many life events that have molded me into the teacher I am today… I started taking dance classes as a young girl in the early 90’s in Southern California. I remember being so shy and terrified of going up on stage to perform that I wished I could disappear. I loved practicing inside the safety of the dance studio, or even my living room, but the stage was too much! Years passed, and my fears faded, allowing me to audition and dance with a performance company, multiple competition teams, and several lead roles in the Nutcracker Ballet. My fellow ballerinas and I would make games out of comparing lost toenails, blistered knuckles, callus thickness, and who had bled the most onto their pretty pink pointe shoes. By 2004, despite the fact that I could crack practically every bone in my body and no longer remembered days without constant lower back pain, I still wanted to dance. Since one of my teachers had requested that I be her assistant and substitute occasional classes during my performing years, I received a recommendation that allowed me to begin teaching my own classes. Over time, I wanted change, and tried new things, but always continued teaching my dance classes, even when it meant working 7 days a week. In 2006, I began a cosmetology program to become a licensed hairdresser. While going to school at night, I fell into an amazing position at Golden Valley High School. I worked as a one on one instructional assistant to a 17 year old boy with Autism and ADHD. I learned so much from him, his classmates, and the overall experience, that I couldn’t help but translate some of the lessons I learned into teaching strategies for my dance classes. By 2012, after working full time in the beauty industry to support myself, I loved the salon, my coworkers, and my clientele, but was left feeling unsatisfied. I realized that I wanted to learn and teach more, and could do so within the cosmetology world. By the end of the year, I was working three days behind the chair as a hairdresser, three days as an instructor at a salon academy, and one day teaching dance classes. I regained my inspiration and my mental satisfaction, however, my back, neck, shoulders, and feet were experiencing chronic pain. Any chance I could, I did yoga, used saunas, saw chiropractors, and physical therapist, but was still hurting. As many dancers are, I had been trained and programmed to ignore and work through aches and pains, so I continued to push myself, never stopping to take a physical or mental break. As you can imagine, this lifestyle quickly caught up with me. My husband and I finally took some time for ourselves, did some research, traveled, explored, and decided to take a big step to improve our lives by moving to Portland, Oregon. I applied to teach for a cosmetology academy that promoted total wellness and natural products, and also found a dance studio where I could teach ballet classes. At this dance studio, it was my task to improve and perfect the competition team’s ballet technique. After several months of training, competing, dancing, contorting, tumbling, and traveling, the girls were like little battered zombies when they would enter my class. Our time together began to evolve from a classical ballet class into a time for stretching, massage, injury therapy, and even some music history. Reflecting on my own past experiences, I knew this is what the team needed more than anything, and they agreed! Unfortunately, the owner of the studio did not feel the same, and wanted to continue to push the team towards gold at any cost. We eventually parted ways. At this point, I put all of my focus into my cosmetology students. I gained so much from seeing them succeed and begin careers of their own. This year, I got to celebrate with two of my students from my very first haircutting class in SoCal. They just purchased their first home! What an amazing moment to be apart of! By the summer of 2015, having spent so much time in the cosmetology school environment, breathing the fumes of sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, ammonia, (bleach, perms, relaxers, color, etc,) I developed allergic asthma. Walking past a perm resulted in my throat closing, migraines, chest pain, and exhaustion. I spent two months in and out of doctor’s offices, having breathing tests and blood drawn, and obviously missing tons of work. Between feeling like I had let my students down, being bedridden, and not being able to exercise or enjoy any activities I love, I became very depressed and anxious. I felt hopeless and didn’t know what my next step could be… Thankfully, I have an amazing support system! The patience and love that my husband, family, and friends continued to show helped me heal, grow, and nurture myself. Finally, I knew exactly what my next step had to be. I had to continue to nurture myself. I had to create an environment where I could bring my family to be nurtured. I wanted to share this with my neighbors and my community…. and that was the beginning of Nurtured Dancers Community Wellness Center.