Tapping into mental health

Sydney Community College Blog | By Claire Pickard on

Woman sitting on the floor wearing tap shoes

Great ways to stay energised and engaged

There are all kinds of reasons you might do a short course: to add a string to your bow; plump up your CV with something short, sharp and current; you might be looking for an alcohol-free date night, or simply to gift yourself the time to do something just for you.

Kristen Dunphy
Kristen Dunphy

That’s why there are so many great stories behind the students in our classes! For example, there’s Lizzy Hoo, now selling out shows at Melbourne & Sydney Comedy Festivals after kicking off with Stand-Up Comedy for Beginners. How about the couple that attended Urban Sketching on Zoom during the first lockdown: she was at home, drawing the view from her window in Sydney; he was drawing from photos because it was the middle of the night at his place... in Canada! Tap Dancing student Kristen Dunphy tapped into the experience of a character in the show she created: ABC TV’s Wakefield.

The lead character of Wakefield, Nik, is a psychiatric nurse. In the series, he taps his way through childhood flashbacks and fantasy sequences, with the joy of that escape from reality shining through. It’s this escape that Kristen Dunphy now enjoys in her weekly Tap-Dancing sessions at Sydney Community College. The classes, she says, allow her time for “mindlessness... People talk about mindfulness but it’s about letting the brain switch off.” When you’re tap dancing, Kristen says, “you concentrate so hard it takes your mind off the every day, you can’t possibly think about anything else.”

Exploring stories, experiences and complexities around mental health, Wakefield has inspired the Tap Into Mental Health initiative. It encourages participants to share on social media the things they do to take care of their mental health. One way to take part is to learn some short choreography and share a video of yourself dancing. (Take a look at our class tapping out the routine in style, led by teacher Prue Phillips). Or you might share some comedy for a laugh, a book that inspires you or the music that lifts your mood. It’s all about ways you can stay energised and engaged for positive mental health.

During the production of the show, Kristen Dunphy was gifted a pair of tap shoes by the show’s composer. It was lockdown, and with the filming disrupted, she started learning the steps to a short routine. With the help of the actor playing young Nik, she took on his Zoom feedback and persevered. When the lockdown lifted, she looked out for a class to learn in person. Kristen says Prue Phillips is an amazing teacher. “It doesn’t have to be for performance – no one else has to see it, it can be just for myself.”

So here’s to all the many short courses you can do, just for yourself!

If it’s activity that you crave, you might like Yoga, Nordic Walking or Indoor Rock Climbing.

Artier types can take a Painting or Drawing course – or learn to sew and make your own clothes.

Communicators can lose themselves in a new language, or learn the art of storytelling.

Start-up dreamers can learn how to Build a Side Business or Start a Fashion Label.


Sydney Community College Blog