The benefits of a dance education, as in attending regular recreational dance classes taken by qualified adult dance teachers, preferably ex-professional dancers, are varied and numerous. In this blog, I will reflect on what I, as a former professional classical ballet artist, ballet company director and current ballet teacher, consider to be the most important. In general, dance is a powerful tool for developing many of the desired attributes of the growing child. Attending regular dance classes can assist and support children to mature into physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively sound individuals.
The Power of Dance:
All preschoolers will love having fun and learn to dance in good classes that include creative movement, ballet, vocabulary, and musicality that will enhance their self-expression, self-esteem, creativity, and imagination. A well run Tiny Toe class will develop a deep love of learning through the elements of dance and music and give each little dancer a great sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Dancing to music can release tensions and hidden anxieties and helps the shy, as well as the hyper active child through the required levels of focus needed in class.
Scientifically we know that dance exercise releases endorphins that make us feel happier and more relaxed, as well as energised and fulfilled.
Currently, many school age children are being bombarded with academic tests and the pressures of grades, and the dance studio can be not only a refuge, but a platform where goals can be immediate through to long term and where mistakes are taken as a great means to discover the right way of performing a step, sequence or movement. Individuality, personality and expression are applauded as great dance attributes. Children naturally love to perform whether in the living room for a parent after dance class, in a formal dance assessment, or in an annual dance concert. I truly believe dancing helps create happy children.
At The Dance Centre Peregian Springs, we give the children the time and place to express and explore their own imagination, to express thoughts through movements, use their own choreographic ideas and creativity. Most children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and in doing so become aware of themselves and others through movement. Every pre-schooler will enter the dance studio with a wide array of emotional experiences, and a well thought out primary dance class will offer a structured and considered outlet for physical and emotional release whilst gaining awareness and appreciation of oneself and the other dance students in the class.
Health and Fitness:
Dance classes are a wonderful physical and artistic activity leading to greater levels of energy, co-ordination, flexibility and muscle strength. They are stamina building and help form a better understanding of a healthy lifestyle and a greater sense of bodily awareness.
Dance involves a much high level of movement, coordination, strength and endurance than most other physical sporting activities.
Dance classes not only teach kinesthetic memory, but utilise the entire body and are, therefore, an excellent form of exercise for total body fitness whilst building artistic and creative skills.
All young children move naturally to express emotions, thoughts or feelings and often simply, because of hearing music or a rhythm, feel it is a joyful and wonderful thing to do. During a dance class this movement is given form and structure, it is set to music and is performed with the added awareness for the right way to perform it. It evolves into a dance movement or combination of dance steps and children take enormous pride in achieving this type of structured movement.
Self Esteem, Motivation, Discipline and Self-Confidence:
Dance students, even from a very young age, learn to work independently, they gain confidence and self esteem when they see themselves achieving a movement or step sequence in the mirror, they get used to dancing solo when asked during class to perform a step alone. On a parallel level they also learn to work together as a group during class, standing in rows, forming circles or dancing with partners. Dancing requires motivation and discipline which should be gently encouraged and fostered by the dance teacher. This motivation and discipline will become life long tools and greatly assist in any career path chosen.
Dance students learn to depend on each other and to get along with each other in their dance class. In a well run dance class situation, children will create wonderful movement ideas eagerly and spontaneously, and often work in small teams to accomplish a creative group outcome, thus forging strong social interactive skills. Even the very young learn to communicate creative ideas to others through body movement and to work happily within a group dynamic. At this very young age they start to learn to understand themselves in relation to others, and they also learn to trust each other. For the only child with no siblings and the home schoolers, in particular, joining a dance class with like-minded children is a highly enjoyable social learning event.
Improving Academic Grades:
A dance education has proven time and again to help children to develop good literacy skills. During a qualified dance class the class content, exercises and dances learned will have a profound effect on the dance student's academic schooling. Dance class constantly involves mathematics, with the counting of music, learning of complex rhythms and the continual use of patterns and forms. Science studies are enhanced through spatial and bodily awareness. Dance is a natural method for learning and dance students learn movement patterns as readily as they learn languages. Learning to dance involves both sides of the brain and is one of the greatest builders of brain connectors giving dance students an added advantage especially observed in their academic language studies.