Gracious Dance in Rochester shares how she promotes wellness through movement!
It can be as simple as a sway or as complex as a pirouette. Dance gives expression beyond words, bringing with it strength and healing. Rebecca Phelps, founder and instructor at Gracious Dance, is using her experience and talent to give the gift of dance to others.
At only 25, Phelps has already spent 20 years—nearly her entire life—dancing. While she had always dreamed of opening a dance studio of her own, personal tragedy was the catalyst that made her dream a reality. In November 2020, Phelps opened Gracious Dance. Her studio quickly took on a greater purpose.
“Dance helped me heal through most things in my life, and I knew I wanted to help people experience that healing,” said Phelps. “I began sharing my vision on social media, and people responded. So, I opened up dance classes for those who needed them.”
Gracious Dance began offering empowerment groups in April 2021, just six months after it opened. The classes are for people of all ages who are in need of the healing dance can provide. Not only does dance boost mood and lessen anxiety, but dancers also experience a safe environment filled with sharing, understanding, and support.
“We have about 10 girls who attend regularly. Some of them have danced with us since April, and we are so happy to have them,” Phelps explained. “We dance and we share food. It is a wonderful, beautiful thing, and the most amazing part is how connected these girls are. They are able to support each other and share advice because they have gone through similar experiences. They are learning and growing together, which is really cool.”
Gracious Dance’s empowerment group has already performed in a benefit show for centers that provide shelter for survivors of domestic violence as well as held a personal care item drive, a clothing drive, and more. Phelps has seen a steady group of people coming to these monthly survivor events.
Having started the process of becoming a nonprofit, Phelps hopes to expand these activities and services. “I would love to go to schools and colleges and talk about domestic violence. These are very vulnerable populations,” she said. “I would also like to do dance classes for children and offer this healing and support to them, as well.”
As for Phelps, the experience has already been transformative. “It has been so healing for me and my story. I asked myself, How can I use this to help people who have been through similar experiences? Our empowerment groups have given my story a purpose.”
Phelps plans to continue allowing dance to bring “something good” from all the hard things she has been through. “It is incredible to help people through dance and know that they really do want and need what I can give,” she said. “I am so thankful for it. It has changed my life.”
Follow Gracious Dance
Facebook: @Gracious Dance