15 Reasons why all children should learn to dance

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.

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19 Comments

  1. awesome post Meagan! I really enjoyed reading it. I am sure there are even more!

    Reply
  2. Vasanti

     /  October 29, 2011

    What is the right age for children to start dance lessons?

    Reply
  3. adesuwa ishioma

     /  July 27, 2012

    Dis is rilly great,investing in d child dance education,is truly essential in our society 2day,not just in america alone,would luv 2 learn more,coz I wan2 partner with this great vision

    Reply
  4. Shakespeare says, Circumstances maketh a man. I would rather say- Dance maketh a man. A child who adopts dance as his favorite activity or hobby, can surely steer the ship of his life, without any difficulty.

    Reply
  5. Norman Prather

     /  October 29, 2012

    Periodically I research discussions about dance. It is a harmless hobby of mine, attempting to understand something which makes no sense to me at all. This time your short essay came up. You provide an interesting list but no defense for any of the items. Since I do not dance nor do I understand dance I gained nothing from the list. I’d truly like to see more.

    Reply
  6. Dear Meagan,

    I am a dancer and a parent in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I recently created a petition to the White House to make Dance Education the right of every child. We gathered the initial needed 150 signatures and the petition is now posted on the White House website (whitehouse.gov/petitions). Here’s a direct link: http://wh.gov/E6ew In order to get an official response from the White House, we need 100,000 signatures. I think we can get there. Even if we don’t, I think this is a message worth spreading. Can you help? You can do that by forwarding this message, sharing on facebook, or tweeting the link. If you tweet, please add “Sign & RT”. We have the potential to really make a difference! If you wish to contact me, I can be reached by email. You can also find me on twitter.

    Thank you.

    Respectfully,

    Radi Shafie

    Reply
  7. You may be interested in ARTinED – A new approach to education using the arts http://www.artined.eu/index.html a European Union funded education project that has made a primary level course on the environment that includes different art forms including dance.

    Reply
  8. Samantha

     /  June 16, 2013

    You may also be interested in an organization called Movement Exchange – we aim to foster a sense of community through movement and service. We currently work in Panama. Check us out here at http://www.movementexchanges.org/

    Reply
  9. Rebecca

     /  September 13, 2015

    Very interesting to read, i am currently writing my thesis based on dance deucation and how it can help breach and foster better cross cultural communication among cultures any suggestions on books, articles and videos to help in my research will be truly appreciated, thank

    Reply
  10. Rebecca

     /  September 13, 2015

    Very interesting to read, i am currently writing my thesis based on dance education and how it can help breach and foster better cross cultural communication among cultures any suggestions on books, articles and videos to help in my research will be truly appreciated, thank

    Reply
  11. kk

     /  March 23, 2016

    i love to dance too

    Reply
  12. Michaela Obrien

     /  January 9, 2017

    I love to dance too, i even listen to music while dancing.

    Reply
  13. I believe everyone has a way of expressing themselves and dance is just another way of doing the same. I cannot help but agree to every part of this post because it is the truth and it has been presented beautifully. Great post!

    Reply
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