Prince George’s Co. dance studio owner encourages ‘dance therapy’ for mental health

Grace Johnson, the owner of Neema Dance Collective in Temple Hills (Courtesy Neema Dance Collective)

Grace Johnson has been dancing since she was young, training and competing all the way through her college years, leading to her opening Neema Dance Collective studio in Temple Hills, Maryland, seven years ago.

Since then, it’s become more than just a space to teach tap, jazz and modern dance, it’s a place for dance therapy, where students can learn to build confidence and understand their emotions.

“[Dance therapy] just releases anxiety from your mental space and it also helps with movement,” Johnson said. She added that her studio has “a community of other dancers going through the same things.”

Outside of the studio, she works to encourage students to enter spaces where representation is needed.

“We are about advocating for our young artists. We push them to spaces where our culture is accepted. We also push them to spaces where they don’t see a lot of African Americans,” Johnson said.

Many of her students go on to renowned dance programs, including Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy summer intensive.

Grace Johnson and some of the dancers at Neema Dance Collective (Courtesy Neema Dance Collective)

On Sunday, June 11, Johnson’s students will share their talents with the community during the debut performance of “Soul” at their spring showcase at Howard University.

“We’re tipping our hats off to soul music. It’s going to be so fun and so colorful. The success of the children is the studio’s success,” Johnson said.

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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