UV-You Matter addresses suicide through dance films

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UV-You Matter, a student run club, and The Starry-Eyed Dance Company presented creative filmed dance routines to students and community members as a way to confront rising suicide rates.

UV-You Matter is a club on campus dedicated to addressing mental-health stigmas.

“For this event we are hoping to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI),” said junior digital marketing major, Maria Stephens, the president of the club. “They are who we partner with to host different events. They also help bring in people who are trained to have support groups and different educational courses with our club throughout the year.”

The short films, shown on Sept. 14 in the Fulton Library, presented choreography combined with creative videography. Sadie Johnson, one of the dancers and co-founders of The Starry-Eyed Dance Company, said the company partnered with Moonstruck Pictures for this project.

Three sisters, Sadie, Hannah and Ayley Johnson founded The Starry-Eyed Dance Company in 2014; Hannah and Ayley also started Moonstruck, the videography company. The contemporary dance company primarily operates during the summer months, and the members dance inspired by the events impacting their members’ lives. This is the second year The Starry-Eyed has partnered with Moonstruck to promote mental health awareness.

The films were set in a variety of locations and used clever editing to match the theme of the project. Songs like “Where Do You Run?” by The Score and “Bare Bones” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise set the tone for what the choreography was built on.

“It was really cool to sit in the audience and see it this way,” said dancer Adyson Edwards. “It was really impactful. You don’t often watch yourself dance. I got to sit with the people I love and watch it rather than being backstage.”

The films included love and friendship as motifs. The choreography leaned into team and partner movements to express camaraderie and positivity. The dancers would run into each other’s arms and lift each other up, both literally and metaphorically. The dance company and UV-You Matter showed off the potential that art has to touch our feelings directly.

“Dance is a very outward expression of the body and the mind,” Stephens said. “I had a dance teacher who told me that in the real world you can never be too much of anything. You can’t be too happy, can’t be too adventurous, can’t be too sad. But, in the dance world, anything goes. You can express your emotions to their fullest capability and not only is it accepted but it’s also considered beautiful.”

In the spirit of this project, if you are struggling there is help for you. UVU Health Services offers both individual and group therapy, and they have a list of additional lost-cost therapy options. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 — Call 1-800-283-TALK (8255).