Dancers Collaborate Against Stigma for Special Performance at Paramus Park Mall

13 Jan 2014 Events, In the News No Comments

Dance groups from the area will join together for a special choreographed performance for the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the Paramus Park Mall. The performance aims to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with mental illness. There will be performances at 2:30, 3:00, and 3:30 PM.

Dancers are expected from Paramus High School, Mariann’s School of Dance, Center Stage Dance Studio, and the Ridgewood High School Dance Company. They will come together to perform the special choreographed piece entitled “Let’s Help” to call attention to the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone’s project.

The Paramus Stigma-Free Zone is a community group formed with a goal of abolishing the stigma of mental illness. After being established in July of 2013 by Paramus resident Mary Ann Uzzi, the group quickly integrated into the community. Their belief is that the best way to end stigma is to begin a healthy conversation on mental illness. The dance performance is one of many local events planned by the group. As more events are held, their expectation is that the conversation will continue to grow.

“As an artist and teacher, I truly believe in advocacy through the arts and see this as a natural way to address the issues within our community,” said Jennifer Landa, choreographer of the performance. “It has been wonderful to see the dancers and teachers here in Paramus collaborate and have the opportunity to share their work, their thoughts, and their feelings on the issue,” continued Landa.

Landa is a long time Paramus resident and dance professional who has personal experience with mental illness and has herself benefited from counseling during a stressful time in her life. She is the lead choreographer of the dance project, along with Claudine Ranieri, Ann Marie Coelho, and Mariann Paul.

Ann Marie Coelho of Center Stage Dance Studio states that, “We are proud to be part of this event, which will be using dance to deliver an important message.”

The dance performance is designed to serve as an educational tool for viewers, as well as participants, who will be learning about the stigma of mental health/illness throughout the process. The Paramus High School Interact Club has volunteered their time for the event, along with members of the task force, to be on hand to distribute information to the audience.

The stigma associated with mental illness can be a huge determining factor when an individual is considering to seek treatment. As stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “More than 20 percent of the U.S. population experience a mental disorder in any given year, but almost half of these individuals do not seek treatment.”

“There is a need for more acceptance of mental illness as just that, and I am thrilled to live in a town working to eradicate the stigma against those with mental illness,” explained Landa.

The performances will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the Paramus Park Mall at 2:30, 3:00, and 3:30 PM.