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Jul 28, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Kathleen McGuire Gaines, founder at Minding the Gap, fundraising consultant, and contributing writer at Dance Magazine. As a dancer, Kathleen trained at various dance academies, before circumstances forced her to pivot her career towards writing. As a writer, she has published countless articles for prominent dance publications, mostly revolving around mental health issues. Her most recent and foremost effort — Minding the Gap — is a social good organization, dedicated to making mental health a higher priority in the dance world.

Dance is more than physical. Having dealt with mental health issues in the past, Gaines is no stranger to the types of emotional struggles that dancers encounter on a day-to-day basis. And, ultimately, the gap in awareness and knowledge in the dance community towards these types of struggles drove her to find a solution. On the podcast, Alexandra and Kathleen dive into Kathleen’s amazing story, how Minding the Gap came to be, and why we should all care about mental health.


Moving Quotes:

“A dancer who sprains their ankle is going to go to the doctor. They’re going to go to physical therapy. When you’re having a mental health issue, it should be no different."

“Becoming a dance writer has helped me face my own dragons in some ways — my own feelings of loss. Really, when I’m trying to come up with what I’m writing about, I’m asking, ‘What do I wish I had known? What do I wish someone had told me?’"

“When it comes to things like eating disorders, we have to be more proactive and less reactive."

“I didn’t plan [my life’s] trajectory at all… But at the same time, when I look back and look at the pieces of my life and the skills I’ve developed over that time, it’s like I’ve been training for this forever… I just followed my heart from one step to the next. And, now, here I am."

“I think goal-setting is a foundational skill that all dancers need that, frankly, few dancers do very well. We conflate our dreams and our goals. And you can’t tie your sense of accomplishment to something you have no control over."

“When you’re young, people bestow upon you the wisdom that everything happens for a reason. And it’s easy to write that off. But I absolutely believe it now."

“I believe that, as a teacher, you can have high standards and create great dancers and also be very kind. But, sadly, that’s not the mentality of much of the dance world."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:00: Kathleen walks through the events in her life that led her to where she is today, which is a path she did not originally plan.

7:43: Kathleen recaps the turning point in her journey that eventually led her to create her mental health organization — Minding the Gap.

11:42: Kathleen describes her organization, what they do in the day-to-day, and how these efforts have recently pivoted to help address the COVID-19 crisis.

19:05: Gaines discusses why she believes there is a stigma around mental health in the dance community.

24:16: Gaines describes the signs that may indicate you or one of your peers is currently dealing with a mental health crisis.

28:09: Kathleen shares information on how to handle a peer in a mental health crisis, once the situation has been identified.

32:46: Kathleen explains how body image is a significant emotional health trigger, specifically for dancers.

37:37: Gaines pivots the discussion towards her writing career and how she chooses the topics to feature in her pieces for dance publications.

40:47: Kathleen looks towards the future and where she hopes to be in the short and long terms.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Kathleen McGuire Gaines


Minding the Gap