Ever since my post back in May about the Side-by-Side dance program in Utah, I’ve been thinking about dance education in schools and checking out various sources on the subject. Recently I read Judith Lynne Hanna’s 1999 book, Partnering Dance and Education. I really appreciated Hanna’s thorough analysis of the topic, as she explored the potential of dance education, discussed various models of teaching, and cited specific programs and research studies that helped to illustrate the ideas. Particularly I enjoyed her many reasons why learning dance is so valuable, including an entire chapter called “The Power of Dance Well Taught.”
I’d like to share here, straight from the book, 15 benefits of dance and dance education, as listed by Judith Lynne Hanna.
1) Dance education aids the development of kinesthetic intelligence.
2) Dance education creates opportunities for self-expression and communication within the constraints of the medium of the body.
3) Dance, whether representational, thematic, or abstract, is a repository of civilization that changes through time.
4) Dance education teaches the values and skills of creativity, problem solving, risk taking, making judgments in the absence of rules, and higher-order thinking skills.
5) Dance provides an opportunity for students to recognize that there are multiple solutions to problems.
6) The study of dance fosters an individual’s ability to better interpret interpersonal nonverbal communication.
7) Dance education provides a strong base from which to analyze and make informed judgments about corporeal images.
8) Learning the dances of other cultures helps students to develop an understanding and respect for them.
9) Through stimulating all the senses, dance goes beyond verbal language in engaging dancers and promoting the development of multisensory beings.
10) Dance provides options to destructive alternatives in a world that is unpredictable and unsafe for children.
11) Dance education prepares people for careers in dance and other fields.
12) Dance enhances an individual’s lifelong quality of life.
13) Participation in dance benefits our communities economically.
14) Dance education helps students develop physical fitness, appreciation of the body, concern for sound health practices, and effective stress management approaches.
15) Dance education contributes to the National Education Goals (from the Educate America Act of 1994).
Sounds good to me. Now how do we actually provide dance education to all kids in the U.S. through our school systems? Let’s figure it out.
Posted by Meagan Bruskewicz on January 21, 2011
If you have kids, you may be wondering what is the best way to channel their seemingly boundless energy. While traditional team sports are a good way to get your kids physically active, they may not be right for younger children. Dance classes are a great alternative to team sports, and most studios offer lessons for children as young as two or three. Participating in dance classes can be beneficial for kids of all ages.
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Dancing is a highly physical activity, and kids who take dance lessons regularly should expect to see a significant improvement in their overall physical health. According to Pro Dance Center, regular dance practice can increase your child's flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina. The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, correct poor posture, increase balance and coordination and improve overall cardiovascular health. Dancing is an aerobic form of exercise. For children who are overweight, it can potentially help them to lose weight and improve their eating habits.
In addition to being a physical activity, dancing is also a highly social activity. According to "FamilyTalk Magazine," dance lessons can help children improve their social and communication skills, learn how to work as part of a team, develop a greater sense of trust and cooperation and make new friends. If your child is shy, enrolling her in dance can encourage her to reach out to other children her age and help to reduce her anxiety about new people or places. Dance can also help to alleviate fears related to performing in front of an audience.
Becoming a skilled dancer requires practice, discipline and focus, skills that can be useful in other areas of your child's life. According to "FamilyTalk Magazine," dance lessons can help to spark creativity in young children and help them to develop an appreciation for the arts. Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers. "FamilyTalk Magazine" estimates that students who have a background in dance tend to achieve significantly higher SAT scores and do better in math and science competitions.
As children adjust to the movements and postures required in dance, they begin to get a better sense of their bodies. As they become more comfortable in their own skin, their confidence and self-esteem also improve. According to EduDance, dance lessons can encourage children to foster a more positive attitude and explore their own self-expression. This can be particularly beneficial for children who are physically or mentally impaired or those who are attempting to deal with significant emotional problems.
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