How to keep positive mental health as a dance artist

How to keep positive mental health as a dance artist

Blog by Bianca Paige Smith

October 10th 2020. Today, we celebrate World Mental Health Day and we invited Bianca Paige Smith, a choreographer, writer and meditator based in New Jersey, USA.

I’m committed to developing a compassionate and loving relationship with my mental health, no matter what, while carving my journey through life as an independent artist. 

I used to think, and sometimes still do, the worst thing in the world was to feel my “negative emotions” or “bad feelings” because then I’d get stuck. I’d be a victim to them forever. I have to consciously remind myself that this habit is the opposite of what I believe.

In February of 2013, I ruptured my achilles tendon filming my audition tape for my first pre-professional dance show. Yes, it was caught on tape. No bueno. I never saw the tape though. I don’t even know where it is now! It sent me into a spiral of depression deeper than anything I’d ever experienced. 

There was a blessing in this circumstance. The gift was what I chose to do with it. I chose to feel… listen. I chose to learn and reflect. Even when I fought, I couldn’t fight for too long. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as they say.

I still reflect on that time. I built up my whole life and identity on being an artist – a dancer – and then in an instant I could no longer dance. So what happened? I allowed myself to explore (many) other aspects of who I am. I allowed myself to release my grip (a death grip I might add) on my identity as a dancer. I started painting murals. I embraced my writing practice. I shifted trajectories into pursuing contemporary dance. I got my Masters. I took time to learn about my body and allowed myself to continue integrating what I was learning. I consciously set out on the path toward wholeness.

I accepted that I am a human first. Creative by the very nature of my existence. Allowing myself to be present with everything that is present. 

Since, I have been guided toward creative work that is in service of what it means to be human. I created a duet called Two Can Do, inspired by the concepts of support, vulnerability in the arts and autonomy. I became a yoga teacher and meditation coach. I created a platform called B. Create. as a resource for those who work creatively with humans and energy.  

Doing this work both in practice and in service keeps me grounded and connected to how I feel inside. We are much more than what lies inside our minds, but whatever it looks like inside my mind informs my perspective on life. 

So instead of walking around in the dark, hoping that I don’t bump into anything, I have learned to develop night vision. Even when I don’t want to turn the lights on, I trust that I have support to help me see those dusty beliefs, crumpled memories, locked up stories and love them. Love them in the present moment so that I can lovingly release them. Allow them to transform into energy that can be used to support the world in a new way. A more loving way. 

I don’t want to make this sound easy or light, or ignore the very real truth that every single one of us is different and has our own experience navigating the journey of our mental landscapes. It has been a journey for me of many pieces. Parts of me that have been asking to be acknowledged, integrated and transformed. I am grateful and committed to that. 

I believe we all deserve to be able to develop a loving, compassionate relationship with our mental health no matter where we are on the journey. We all deserve to hold the ultimate truth that we can live a beautiful life and be supported by our mental capacity. That has helped me. Even when things are crap. We deserve it. I deserve it. You deserve it. 

We are going to do stuff anyway. I am trying to pick the things that are more beneficial than harmful. I don’t always succeed. When I do, it always seems to help. Riding the waves of life without letting them stir the current of my mind – this is the journey and the destination. 

Discover more about Bianca!

Two Can Do



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Written by Ines Carvalho

Ines advocates contemporary dance in different forms. She strives to create a more accessible language for dance by working as a marketing communications coordinator.

Posted October 10, 2020

Listed in: Blog


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