"I am Unlimited": Fostering Self-Confidence in our JKU Youth
“I love myself, I believe in myself, and I am unlimited.”
Joya Kazi Unlimited students can be heard repeating this mantra to themselves at the end of their dance classes. The mantra is just one of the several class components that have been exclusively-designed with the aim of instilling self-confidence in youth.
When Joya Kazi first started teaching young students, she noticed that many children were overcome with self-consciousness and couldn’t even look at themselves in the mirror. This led her to assign her students to write down three qualities that they loved about themselves. Seeing that the younger children eagerly came up with responses while the older students struggled to write down even one quality left her heartbroken.
She ended up asking the younger students to stand in front of the older ones to tell them 3 things that they liked about the older students. The older students almost seemed shocked to hear compliments like “You’re a beautiful dancer,” “You’re helpful in class,” or “You have a nice smile.” It was as if they could not believe anyone would ever see such things in them.
Joya had a talk with the parents about building self-confidence, stressing that it has to take place on the daily at home, and that it is “our responsibility to help our kids find and know their value.”
“You could see the reaction in their eyes when they heard that their children couldn’t even think of one thing that they liked about themselves,” says Joya. “Ever since then, I’ve given the assignment to each class just in case it helps even one child bloom with self-worth and confidence.”
In addition to the JKU mantra, another special element of the JKU class format is a freestyle corner, which lets kids express themselves through their individual choice of movement and encourages them to dance across the floor on their own. By being able to end each class with the chance to create on the spot and perform a solo in front of their peers, the students develop confidence in their identities and how they choose to express it.
Joya believes that these exercises also allow the class to build its own community and foundation of support for each other, describing how the whole class claps and cheers along their classmates. At the end of each student’s freestyle, Joya always makes sure to give each student a hug with positive feedback to let them know how proud she is of them.
“With every week that passes, I can see how much this moment means to them, even if the teenagers act like they are too cool for it,” jokes Joya. “Knowing that their teacher believes in them makes them believe in themselves!”
As children transition into young adulthood, they are commonly faced with growing insecurities, which can often limit their happiness, as well as their potential in activities such as dance and fitness. JKU strives to tackle these insecurities and the JKU mantra was developed in hopes that it is a constant reminder to students that they are truly unlimited.
“To me, the JKU mantra tells you that you are capable of anything if you just put your mind to it.” says Nishtha Arya, 14, a student from the BollyZone Teens class in Corona, CA.
The mantra also extends into a “pranam”, a dance prayer where all students thank Mother Earth for providing them with a stage to dance on, their Parents for their support and for bring them to class, and their Instructor while recognizing that the dance knowledge they have received is precious and has been passed down through generations of Gurus. It also teaches you to be grateful for the privileges you have,” says Nishtha in reference to the reminder that many kids don’t get the chance to dance, whether it be for monetary constraints or that their parents don’t support it.
Although she always enjoyed dancing, Nishtha says that she used to have stage fright and was scared to perform solos. Now, after just one year of dancing with JKU, Nishtha has exponentially grown as a dancer, both in performance and technique. Like Nishtha, Aryan Nigam, 14, was also shy before coming to JKU, but has found that his confidence has gradually grown.
“Now, my confidence has given me a new personality and positive attitude to express my emotions. I have found new ways to connect with my friends,” Aryan says.
“Aryan had a great sense of humor but was never able to express openly, and performing on stage in front of a live audience was impossible,” says Rishi, Aryan’s father. “Joya groomed Aryan to change impossible to ‘I-M-POSSIBLE’.”
Rishi has noted his son’s maturity in personality, communication, and expression skills, and believes that this “positive attitude will surely take him miles ahead.”
JKU values not only inspire students to be dedicated to fitness and to find joy through dancing, but they also influence a self-assurance that will help guide students throughout their life journeys.
Neha Arya, Nishtha’s mom, agrees that JKU classes and the JKU philosophy taught her daughter sincerity, focus, and coordination, and also to believe in herself. Now, when Nishtha looks in the mirror, she sees someone “who wants to be the best dancer they can be,” while Aryan sees himself “confident and prepared for anything with a smile.”
Within the last year and a half, eager dance students have been joining the “JKUFAM” because there is something so tangibly unique about the class format. JKU teachers are authentically and professionally trained, stressing a positive learning environment and strong technical dance foundation so that a student is conditioned and can excel in every dance style.
You can still enroll for Fall Quarter classes in our nine locations; Anaheim, Artesia, Brea, Corona, Diamond Bar, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Ana, and Thousand Oaks. Register now for the chance to perform in our Fall Showcase! To find out more about classes, visit www.joyakazi.com, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us acall at (929) 777-JOYA.