Learning and Healing with Dance: A Plan to Advocate

The Issue
As a recent graduate of an undergraduate BFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts, and a hopeful educator about to start her first year teaching English in the public school system, I am interested in ways in which I can promote and advocate for the arts. For this post in particular (my first on WordPress!) I will be discussing dance advocacy. I believe that dance is a unique art form that has the power to transform individuals and communities. I have personally experienced dance as something that has increased my confidence and given me a wholistic view of my self. I have taught dance to students ranging from ages 2 through 13 and have seen it promote thoughtfulness, curiosity, and openness. Historically, dance has been the least appreciated of the arts and the least implemented in public schooling. Today, only 14% of public schools have a program for dance while 90% of secondary schools offer some sort of music as part of the curriculum and 93% offer some sort of visual arts (Lengel, Kuczala, Et. al., 2010) despite research that suggests that movement increases student focus and even promotes the growth of new brain cells (Kuczala, 2015, PBS, 2011). 

Movement is a universal language that has the power to lend itself to issues facing our society today. I believe dance, particularly creative dance and choreography would lend itself easily, if utilized,  to efforts to eradicate discrimination and prejudice on a large scale. There are programs that have used dance to bridge cultural gaps (Lent,2016), and It has even been used in efforts to heal damaged relationships between parents and their children who have been taken in by the foster care system (Hill, Ng, 2017). I believe that the same qualities that make dance a bonding experience for individuals facing these issues make dance an excellent subject for students to  learn in school.

How I plan to Advocate

I am focusing on advocating for dance education in public schools. I have recently completed teacher action research in an 8th grade student teaching placement in which I used dance in the English classroom to teach students figurative language. It is my hope that this research will be published in the next issue of JTAR (the Journal for Teacher Action Research). I believe that all children should have the opportunity to be educated about dance because by educating student minds and not student bodies children are growing up to feel connected to only half of themselves at best. By engaging the whole person in learning whether it be adding movement to a general education subject area (A., 2015) or creating a block specifically for movement education (PBS, 2011), students will be happier and healthier, not to mention more ready to absorb other academic information, if they have been able to not just move, but also create in a physical manner. I think it is a mistake in the public school system that oftentimes dance programs are seen as a luxury class, not even a common elective. I believe that by neglecting movement in education we are neglecting what should be a core subject area. This belief can be supported by programs that see significant academic improvement in students in urban schools after the implementation of dance programs (Douglas, 2017).

I encourage anyone who reads this to seek out any of the attached references for more information on what I have written here. If you are interested in advocating for the arts, please comment below. How are you advocating? What would you like to do to advocate for a subject you care about if you had the means/ motivation/ time? Do you think a blog post like this can reach people?

References

U. U. (2010). The Brain-Body Connection. In T. Lengel, M. Kuczala, & J. B. Madigan

(Authors), The kinesthetic classroom: teaching and learning through movement (pp. 16-29).

Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, A Sage Company.

T. (2015, April 22). The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement | Michael Kuczala | TEDxAshburn. Retrieved November 08, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41gtxgDfY4s

P. (2011, February 16). NEED TO KNOW | A physical education in Naperville | PBS. Retrieved November 08, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULciZ8jSgHA

A. (2015, August 14). How to keep a kids attention, with Action based learning labs! Retrieved November 08, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLOXiDvjwnY

Douglas, S. (2017). Transforming A Low Performing Urban School Through Dance. Dance Education in Practice, 3(1), 12-19.

. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://ndeo.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=893257

Lent, S. R. (2016). Inclusion Strategies for Bringing Dance to Conservative

Communities. Journal of Dance Education, 16(4), 149-152.

Hill, C., & Ng, N. (2017). Unifying Dance and Relationship Through

MPACT. Dance Education in Practice, 3(2), 4-9.

About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://www.cordance.org/aboutus

Robien, E. W. (2010). Schools Integrate Dance Into Core Academics. Education Week.


The national service organization for professional dance. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2017, from https://www.danceusa.org/

 

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