Most don’t consider Dance to be an important subject at school, confirmed by the lack of parents electing to meet with the Dance teacher at Parent-Teacher night(!) However, it provides a fertile ground for breeding essential 21st Century life and work skills.
Creativity is increasingly being seen as important in a world where innovation is constant, entrepreneurship is the vehicle to success and opportunites are endless thanks to digital technology. Give students the opportunity to practice creativity and they will be able to find solutions, invent and communicate in a variety of situations – all pillars of our 21st Century society.
Life is a performance and the stage is everywhere thanks to Web 2.0. Studying Dance provides opportunities to perform dance both learned from the choreographer and created by the students themselves. Anyone who has performed on stage knows it takes guts and holding off those nerves to produce the goods will become very familiar when as an adult, they make a presentation or speech in their workplace.
Our world is becoming increasingly collaborative thanks to things like globalisation, crowd-funding, work hubs and freelancing. In Dance, students create collaboratively, move in unison and have to understand individual and collective strengths and weaknesses to produce an outcome. Negotiation, diplomacy and ‘give and take’ are all qualities that Dance and today’s ways of working have in common.
Empathy and Perspective
Students of Dance explore the experiences and emotions of themselves and others and convey this through movement. It gives them skills in understanding other perspectives, providing them with a good grounding to work in a world without borders.
Studying Dance is not for the faint-hearted and is best committed to from the junior school years onwards. It requires commitment to a craft where improvement is constant, and you can’t just back out of a performance or movement because it will let your team down. Kind of like life really. We can’t just stop the world ‘cos we want to get off. Some things we must see through no matter how difficult or insurmountable it seems. From commitment we learn resilience.
Real–life Literacy and Numeracy
Literacy and numeracy skills like to hide out in Dance class and trick the students into using them. Students create literal and abstract meanings, interpret texts, review works and communicate about dance, which embraces the multiliteracies concept. They master the laws of physics of their own body as they explore movement through time and space, count music, change tempo, create, identify and solve patterns and understand the value of minutes and seconds that tick down to the beginning or end of a performance.
So, why not just take a dance class outside of school? Well, you can, but you may only get half the benefits at a much higher cost.
Reasons to take Dance IN school:
- It costs less and you get taught by a tertiary-qualified, experienced dancer
- You learn a variety of styles and become a more rounded dancer – all in the one class
- You get opportunities to go on awe-inspiring excursions and get master classes and free performances from industry aces such as ADT and various dance companies
- If you are a more visual or physical learner, you’ll appreciate the break from reading and writing (but don’t think there is a complete lack of theory, or you’ll be disappointed!)
- More opportunities to experiment with improvisation and choreography (it’s not all ‘and 5,6,7,8!’)
- You’ll learn more about the ‘whys’ and ‘so whats’ of various dance styles instead of the ‘watch, learn and copy’ approach of private classes.
As you can see, there is more to Dance than ‘just dance’. My recommendations to study this subject does not just come from the bias of being a dancer of many years and one who is making the switch to becoming a school dance teacher. I have observed in workplaces ‘the edge’ that performers have over their colleagues, and with what we know so far about our current and future world, this edge is fast becoming an essential requirement.