Frustrated American educators have watched while those in power have ignored recommendations and research that has suggested this for over 25 years although families that can afford to give their child the greatest gift they have to give, a dance education, can be assured of good fitness throughout their lifetimes because of this early investment. http://yogauonline.com/yogatherapy/yoga-for-kids/yoga-for-kids-practice/2016050415-youth-fitness-steady-decline
As if any of us here needed further convincing, here is yet one more short article supporting the argument that children and adults need more and not less of what dance has to offer. Note – executive functioning is referring to cognitive flexibility, working memory, processing speed and verbal fluency.
“Musical training can now be added to three other activities which have been shown to increase children’s executive functioning: physical exercise, mindfulness training and martial arts.”
Since dance training requires precision in all 3 of the above activities, or similar, I would suggest that it isn’t that bright above average children are attracted to dance but that dance is creating bright, above average children. I have NEVER taught an accomplished dancer who didn’t excel in school and develop psychological maturity ahead of her peers. And I’ve been teaching a long time 🙂
Growing up has always been tough. Everyone you love knows that so they do their best to give advise to dancers, catch them when they fall, and bolster self-esteem. But most lessons in life are learned through trial and error and the life of an artist-in-training is certainly no exception.
Last Christmas, I went to visit my first teacher. I remember how angry she made me a million times. I remember not getting roles I wanted or compliments I thought I deserved. She was like a mother to me but she always did what was best for the company which often meant I was denied. But I persevered. I realized rather young that I was no prodigy so I tried to capitalize on my strengths and work on my shortcomings. My own mother was from an era that trusted the teacher and didn’t interfere when I was weeping about some shortcoming I thought my teacher possessed. There were never teacher conferences or talk of changing schools. Each day, I arrived for class and rehearsal, just like the day before. All these years later, I know how wise both my teacher and my mother were. I learned rejection and perseverance from the two people I respected the most. It prepared me for a life that is filled with plenty of rejection and requires endless perseverance. It also allowed me to train and work as a dancer, an artist, and now, a professional dance teacher.
I train dancers because I believe the discipline it teaches is unparalleled. No one has the discipline of a ballet dancer! But that’s only when the process is allowed to work. Often I am confronted by parents unhappy with some perceived injustice and it almost always includes not the comments I made but the comments the student perceived and relayed. This teaches kids how to manipulate those around them and deprives them of the lessons they might learn. A teacher with high standards that has faith in a student’s ability to rise to the occasion should be encouraged to have high expectations, not lower them in order to soothe the ego of the child in front of them.
I encourage parents and students to let the system function the way it has throughout history. No teacher is in this for the money, the fame, or the power. They teach because they know it can lead to a life-long love of the body in movement. That gift is the best thing you can provide your child. They will thank you all of their life and come to respect your wisdom and insight. You will not only improve the quality of their life but the lives of their children as well. It is the gift that keeps on giving if you allow it to.
I moved to Mpls to leave ballet behind once and for all, preferring the gutsy modern work I’d been exposed to in college and Repertory Dance Theatre. By then I’d danced plenty of ballet, musical theatre, and modern and wanted to experience Continue reading
Why study Dance?
Dance engages the mind, body and spirit and provides opportunities for the development of physical, expressive, “critical, imaginative, appreciative and perceptive abilities” (Bannon & Sanderson 2000). Students develop Continue reading
I almost never give grand pile at the barre other than in 2nd until I’ve been working with young dancers for at least a few years Continue reading
I teach a lot of pirouettes from 5th position because, as my theory goes (and you’re welcome to weigh in), a pirouette is a balance that turns. Therefore, you must find that balance over the supporting leg first. At an advanced level, Continue reading