Many students are experiencing significant mental health challenges and a lack of social connection because of the pandemic and remote learning. Dr. Smart was inspired to draw on her research on self-regulation, and also her background as an artist, to offer something fun and beneficial for the campus community. Specifically, we are going to be offering conscious dance and expressive arts sessions.

Dance is a word that makes a lot of people cringe. Did you know there is even a dance phobia, known as “chorophobia“?? Yet dance has many things in its favor, including:
* body and brain benefits of exercise
* collective joy, and
* connection and co-regulation with others

Conscious dance is a specific type of dance. Put simply, it’s about being mindful of your body while moving to music – moving exactly how it feels good for you to move. There is no choreography or skill involved. It’s about learning how to pay attention to your body – interoceptive awareness – and to feel good while doing it. It has nothing to do with how it looks, and everything to do with how it feels. Take a look at this short film we created where you can hear directly from students about their experience conscious dancing with Dr. Smart.

If you are interested to have fun, let go, and connect with other students, see below for the offerings our lab will be sponsoring. Aside from a lifelong background in music, Dr. Smart brings 20+ years experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, and almost 10 years of dance training. She is trained as a conscious dance facilitator for outreach populations through Dance Your Ability, and is also trained as a Therapeutic Arts Master Practitioner through the Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy. Note – these activities are not psychotherapy or a substitute for therapy, but are intended to promote wellness, enjoyment, and peer connection.

All of the proceeds from these groups will be donated to our community partner, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (GVCEH) – specifically, their Youth and Arts fund. The GVCEH is developing a youth enterprise model to empower young people currently affected by homelessness or transitioning out of care. This model will not only provide housing and social supports, but also put youth at the center of decision-making and programming. Youth experiencing homelessness are also at risk for mental health challenges, and creativity and artistic expression have been identified as areas of interest for their growth and healing. So it seems very fitting that we will donate proceeds of our groups to this worthwhile cause. To learn more about the work of the GVCEH, go to:

The opportunity to partner with Dr. Colette’s program is so exciting for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness…I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner, link and dance together….. to provide opportunities for connection youth to youth – organization to organization – person to person. It matters so much to create connections to ourselves, each other and how we ‘move’ together matters!!! Join our movement!


Spark! is an open conscious dance session, held on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Sessions start on Friday 29th January and run through end of spring semester 2021.

These are 70m sessions held on Zoom, involving a specially curated playlist to promote regulation and moving through different states of arousal. The suggested donation is $10, but you will not be turned away for a lack of funds. All proceeds will be donated to the GVCEH. Please email to register – you can sign up as late as the day before (Thursday) each session, where you will be given the Zoom info for the session. See this FAQ document and if you have more questions, simply contact us!

These groups will meet once a week for approximately 2 hours on Zoom, where we will dance, play with expressive arts and creative writing, based on the Neurosequential Model of Dr. Steven Perry. There will also be an opportunity to have discussion with Psychology graduate and undergraduate students trained in peer facilitation. This is not psychotherapy, but rather meant to promote wellness and building connections with the same group of students over the four weeks. The suggested donation for this group is $60 ($15 per session x 4 sessions), and again, all of the proceeds will be donated to the GVCEH. Please email to register – registrations close by February 14. See this FAQ document and if you have more questions, please contact us!