When someone tells you dance class isn’t as important as say, algebra class, there’s now solid evidence to prove he or she wrong. Sir Ken Robinson, an advisor on education in the arts to government, recently made a case on Ted.com that dance education should be treated as equal, if not more important, due to the physical benefits, as other subjects in school.
He made it clear that he wasn’t arguing against the importance of mathematics, but rather “the equal importance of dance with the other arts, languages, mathematics, sciences and the humanities in the general education of every child.”
The misconceptions of why dance education has been undervalued stems from the notion that the benefits don’t hold up to the traditional academic work of mathematics. Au contraire. Robinson points to recent studies by researchers Charlotte Svendler Nielsen and Stephanie Burridge that proved how dance can help people of all ages and from all backgrounds explore a deeper level of intelligence and achievement through movement. “Dance can help restore joy and stability in troubled lives and ease the tensions in schools disrupted by violence and bullying,” says Robinson.
This social-building aspect of dance is what makes the curriculum so powerful and unique for young people. Robinson notes the nonprofit organization in New York City, Dancing Classrooms, that brings ballroom dancing and arts education to public schools. He points out an evaluation conducted by the organization that found 95 percent of teachers confirming that “as a result of dancing together, students’ abilities to cooperate and collaborate improved.”
Robinson points to other studies done by a panel of researchers in kinesiology and pediatrics proving how 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, three to five days a week, correlates to not only health improvements, but improved overall academic performance among young students. It’s no wonder that so many young dancers are able to successfully balance a rigorous schedule of academics, dance class and competition rehearsals.
Here, teacher Tatiana Lingos-Webb talks about how ballroom dancing enhances a child’s education offering crucial life skills.