Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Polson dance instructor encourages healthy minds, bodies

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now

Even after a hip replacement surgery, Julia Roberts exudes health.

She can’t help it. 

It seeps out of her pores and into the life around her, and for Roberts, it’s as effortless as breathing.

“For me being healthy is helping other people be happy,” Roberts said. 

And perhaps that explains her multiple jobs, all of which help people of all ages be mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. Besides being an addiction specialist at Western Montana Addiction Services, Roberts runs Mission Valley Dance and is the co-founder of Family Matters. 

When Roberts moved to Polson from Missoula 14 years ago, creating a dance studio was a given. She is a lifetime dancer and saw the need for a dance studio in Polson. At the time, she taught her dance class at Cherry Valley School. Since then, Mission Valley Dance has hopped around, relocating in various spots in Polson and Ronan, and finally settling in its present Polson location at the corner of 9th Avenue W. and Main Street. 

Three years ago, while driving home from a conference in Helena, it dawned on Roberts — why not take the fun, playful atmosphere of a dance studio and apply it to non-profit with resources supporting healthy families? And Family Matters was born. 

“It’s just a feeling of activity and life,” Roberts explained of the dance studio that houses Family Matters as well. 

Three years into the project, Family Matters runs various programs that encourage child/parent interaction and literacy in young children. 

Parents as Teachers is a program geared to 0-3 year-olds. It teaches parents about children’s brain development and activities that children and parents can participate while encouraging skills such as hand-eye coordination. 

Little Cherries targets children ages 3-5 with early literacy programs. With Little Cherries, Roberts or her counterparts, Nancy Hemphill and Tessa Hupka, read a book and then perform a dance movement or activity that relates to the book.

Both of these activities take place within the family’s home, but Family Matters also utilizes the dance studio for different parent/child activities throughout the school year. The dance studio allows the space for classes such as Roll and Tumble, Messy Play and Mix and Measure.

“I love my jobs because I think they all work together,” Roberts explained. 

And there’s certainly a common thread of healthy body, healthy mind and healthy spirit that weaves through her professional and personal life. 

Her hip-hop classes give Roberts the opportunity to discuss media literacy with adolescents. Sometimes the lyrics in hip-hop music don’t send the most positive message to children and teenagers. 

“You have to be really strong in who you are and not let the words of the song dictate who you are,” Roberts explained. 

But even the physical act of dancing has many positive benefits besides just the physical exercise. In dance, healthy minds and healthy bodies are intrinsically linked. 

“I think with dance you can take a movement and if you are going through something in your life, you can take that feeling you have inside and put it into that,” Roberts said. “And there, it’s gone.” 

It also gives the dancer a sense of grace, poise and posture. Roberts believes that it develops public speaking abilities and enhances children’s self esteem. 

But the main benefit of dance? 

“When you start dancing when you are young, you will always have something to do,” Roberts explained. 

“You can dance until you die.”



“Last Chance Summer Bash” burrito feed benefiting Family Matters will be held at the Glacier Brewing Company on Aug. 28 from 4-8 p.m.

Sponsored by: