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Dance for Joy Comforts Breast Cancer Survivors

Sep 30, 2021 ● By Carrie Jackson
Lynne Belsky and Lisa Gold standing by a pole

Lynne Belsky and Lisa Gold. Photo credit Karen Kring

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating. For Lynne C. Belsky, M.D., and Lisa Gold, both breast cancer survivors, dancing has been one way for them to literally and figuratively move forward with their healing. In 2016, the cousins co-founded the nonprofit CBG Institute for Dance and Health with a mission of enriching the health and quality of lives for older adults through dance education, performance and outreach. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they are reviving a special series of classes called Dance for Joy, designed for people in any stage of a breast cancer diagnosis or recovery. “We want to create a safe space for people to feel connected and free to move without judgment,” says Belsky. The classes are free and will be held over Zoom to allow people from all over to safely participate and connect.

Belsky and Gold had dance backgrounds before their cancer diagnoses. Belsky danced with the Joffrey Ballet before becoming a physician, and would return to the studio when her schedule allowed. “Being back in the studio with my hand on the (ballet) barre allowed me to find my center again,” she recalls. Gold, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Barat College, taught at the Conservatory of Dance at DePaul University for 16 years and now owns North Shore School of Dance, in Highland Park. She recently received a Professional Award in Adult Dance Practices from the Royal Academy of Dance.

“We founded CBG to help older adults build balance and strength through dance and to enrich their health and freedom of movement. The community we have created here has become incredibly rewarding and fulfilling because people are empowering themselves through dance,” says Gold.

Teaching to people that have been diagnosed with breast cancer was a natural progression to help this population in need of wellness and healing. During their cancer treatments, neither
Belsky nor Gold felt comfortable going back to traditional studios. “Because of my scars and surgeries, I had trouble moving in the ways everyone else did,” says Gold. They realized there were countless others facing the same issues and wanted to bring them together instead of letting them feel isolated. “We created a class where cancer survivors could feel safe and discover how dance offers freedom from life’s challenges. We also give participants a sense of belonging and a community,” says Gold.

While they may be therapeutic in nature, the classes at CBG are not specifically dance therapy. “We focus on the dancers’ well-being through dance instruction. Our classes are designed for this specific population and their needs,” Belsky explains. Studies show that structured dance is also medically therapeutic and has direct benefits that include increased stability, muscle strength, improved reaction time, cognitive improvements, tactile and motor skills performance, perceptual abilities and overall well-being.

Having a supportive group can diminish the feelings of isolation which many cancer survivors experience. “Even through Zoom, students feel a heightened sense of joy and connectedness. They feel less alone and have a community to belong to. They know that others in the group understand the trials of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, and the effects they have on the body,” says Belsky.

The Dance for Joy classes are available to people of any age and stage of cancer or recovery, and dance experience is not required. “We revel in feeling good. We are all in this together and getting stronger together,” says Gold. They have students in their 90s that are still participating with impressive vigor and students that dance in spite of illness or disability.

Dance is also a way for people that have been through cancer to appreciate their bodies in a new and deeper way. “I do not define myself by my cancer. I have overcome it and feel great. Dancing and being able to challenge myself again while having fun is a huge part of that. We now help others remember who they were before their cancer diagnosis and connect to that through dance and community,” says Belsky.

For more information, call 847-510-3357, email [email protected] or visit

Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at


Dance For Joy October Classes

Dance for Joy will take place at 9:30 a.m., October 3, 10, 17 and 24 via Zoom at the CBG Institute. Although the classes are free, donations are accepted so the nonprofit can support its mission of enriching the health and quality of life of adults through dance education, research and performance.

Classes are open to people in any stage of breast cancer diagnosis and of any age. No prior dance experience is required, and students are encouraged to participate at their own pace.

For more information and to register, visit