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I've had a complicated relationship with dance over the years—from a young girl hell-bent on pursuing a career, to a professional injured on the brink of success, to a grown woman who shunned the art form for years to avoid dealing with physical and emotional pain.

But in the midst of the pandemic, hit with personal loss and grappling with my own battle with illness, I was compelled to face my dance demons head-on. And what I discovered was that dance had been with me all along. And as I turned to others in pain, I realized I wasn't alone in experiencing this dance catharsis.

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Courtesy Turnage

As COVID-19 persists, dance teachers everywhere are adapting their classes for online platforms. One such teacher, Birmingham, Alabama-based Melissa Turnage, is finding it especially vital. "I have been banned from the hospital for the last six weeks," she says. "If there is a need, you just have to figure it out."

Turnage is a dance artist in residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital and a dance/movement specialist at Children's Hospital of Alabama and St. Vincent's Birmingham. Though she's not a dance therapist, her dance classes for patients have shown therapeutic benefits. "They sleep better. Their mood is better. Physically they feel better," she says.

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