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.