Why Dance?

2Russian Parents Magazine. 2008    2008

Why Dance?

We all arrive in this world with a rudimentary ability  to move.  Across times and cultures dance  is used to represent human experience of the world and proper upbringing is  associated with discipline and adequate physical development. Ability to  control one’s body and overall physical well-being is the basic building block  essential to the development of a healthy and balanced personality.  The essential core of the human personality  manifests itself through the physique of an individual and the manipulation of  the physical body has a tremendous impact on character development.

Movement and dance in the early years underpins all  subsequent development. Through dance, children channel their energy, develop  listening skills, exercise their attention and concentration.  Systematic participation in dance classes  brings about an enhanced control of one’s body, increased energy level,  improved posture, greater flexibility, and spatial awareness.  Young dancers develop a sense of balance, and  improve agility and coordination.  Dancing  is an activity that when engaged in on a regular basis has been shown to lead  to slower heart rate, decreased risk of osteoporosis, lower blood pressure, and  improved cholesterol profile later in life.   As childhood obesity and associated risks to health threatens to become  an epidemic in our country, it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of  instilling an interest in movement and exercise as early in life as possible.

Dance is not only a great form of cardio-vascular  exercise, nor is it merely a superior way to tone and strengthen the  muscles.  It is an accepted notion in the  field of developmental psychology that dance is also known to heighten  self-confidence and self-esteem, promote emotional development, improve social  skills, and encourage intellectual growth.   Further, the social component present in participation in dance classes  is of utmost importance to character development.  Children who are part of a dance group have  more than an opportunity to develop strong social ties, which contribute to enhance  self-esteem and a positive outlook on social interaction. Group choreography  fosters teamwork, communication, and trust. In addition, learning the language  of the body and being able to integrate one’s own movement to respond  appropriately, is a crucial element in development of social  effectiveness.  Shortly after joining a  dance class most children quickly gain a profound understanding of the  necessity of cooperation with their classmates, which leads to development of  social skills that prove to be invaluable later in all aspects of life.

Dance also has been proven to nurture other important  skills, such as discipline and focus.   The art of dance requires display of confidence, self-esteem and poise,  and with practice young dancers develop these qualities and display them even  outside the studio.  Dancing mandates a  high degree of self-control, which is fundamental for children’s personal and  social development. As fostering development of bodily control, dancing may  lead to greater emotional control.  Further,  ordering movements to create a dance develops children’s sequencing skills.

There is also an important aesthetic value of  dancing.  Dance can give children  insights into different cultures and raise their awareness of and respect for  others.  Interpretation of music that is  inherent in dance encourages the imagination and develops children’s  creativity, which is fundamental for learning to take risks and find solutions  to challenges in life.  As each dancer  brings his or her character into the elements performed, dancing presents a  natural way for children to express their ideas, thoughts and feelings. Clearly,  learning to dance is not a mere recreational pursuit.  In essence, it is superior form of exercise as  well as an educational quest which promotes the joy of self-expression.

Why dance, some may ask? The answer is apparent in the  eyes of young dancers as soon as one enters a dance studio! Those eyes are filled  with a very special kind of joy. But if one must answer in one sentence:  For the triumph of health, strength,  intellect, discipline, beauty and creativity!!!