Should Dance Be Taught In School?
Have you heard these questions before?
“What’s the point of teaching dance in schools?”
“Shouldn’t kids be focused on reading and math?”
“Dance is just for fun, why should it be a class?”
“Couldn’t that time be better used for academic subjects?”
“Should dance even be taught in school?!”
We’re here to set the record straight! In case you haven’t already guessed, the answer is: YES! Dance should be taught in school! Not only is dance an opportunity for students to have fun through movement, but it has a real and measurable educational impact. At Crelata, we believe dance education is for everyone, and the best way to bring dance to every child is through schools.
Why Should Dance be Taught in Schools?
Movement is an essential part of educating the whole person
There are many different aspects to education. From academic learning to hands-on experience, a well-rounded education should nurture students’ critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and creativity. Movement is an essential part of a holistic education.
Through movement education, students learn on a deeper level. Beyond theoretical knowledge, movement education allows students to embody lessons and concepts, giving them long-lasting learning they will remember after the test is over. Physical learning doesn’t happen quickly – and that’s exactly why it’s so valuable. Students learn perseverance as they try, fail, and try again. As they engage different senses, strong connections and memories are formed. The resulting learning is embodied within them.
Movement education also helps growing children improve their coordination and provides physical exercise. Without movement education, like dance class, students may struggle to develop the physical skills needed to be comfortable and confident in their bodies. Traditional physical education classes meet some of the movement education needs of students, but not all. Sports-focused physical education classes have a strong emphasis on goal attainment and competition. There is little room for creativity when you want to be the fastest or strongest!
Creative expression is where dance education shines. First, students learn foundational concepts like the elements of dance: body, action, space, time, and energy. Then, they use these building blocks to improvise, develop movement sequences, and create their own unique choreography. Physical creativity empowers students to express themselves nonverbally. Self-expression is critical to healthy emotional development, and dance is a perfect outlet.
What do students learn in dance?
Dance teaches students in different ways than any other subject.
- Self-confidence: Dance teaches students to be self-confident in their bodies. With appropriate lesson structures, students can go from absolutely zero knowledge of dance to understanding and embodying a specific style of dance. Now that’s a confidence booster!
- Cultural traditions: Students of all backgrounds should not only learn about diverse cultural traditions, but they should experience and embody them. For example, students may have a lesson about how Puerto Rico became a US Territory. To go further and embody the experience of Puerto Ricans, students can learn how to dance Salsa. Embodying cultural traditions helps students make meaningful connections that will broaden their scope of the world.
- The joy of movement: Dance is a uniquely joyful art form. Moving to music is fun, whether you’re practicing in class, performing in a show, or doing the YMCA at a wedding. As students overcome challenges, they experience the pleasure of improving their skills. Students should have joyful movement experiences every day! You’ll know if your students are having fun because they’ll smile and use the word “fun” in every sentence when you ask them “why” questions afterward!
- Teamwork: Students learn teamwork by dancing with their peers. They practice safe personal space, dancing in unison by going in the correct direction in time without crashing into one another, taking turns dancing and giving positive peer feedback, collaborating to create choreography, and sometimes performing! Teamwork in dance helps students get along with others and learn to appreciate everyone’s contribution to the whole.
- Self-care: Students learn to care for themselves and others by making mistakes, trying again, and giving constructive feedback. Dance helps students realize that how they feel on the inside can be expressed on the outside through movement and that words are not always needed. Dance teaches students to listen to and take care of their bodies; after all, you only get one body!
- Acceptance of different perspectives: Students practice acceptance by watching their peers demonstrate their creativity. Every student makes unique creative choices, exposing everyone to the beauty of diverse perspectives.
- Creation of new work: Dance class offers a unique opportunity for students to create something entirely new through choreography. Each dance lesson equips students with new building blocks that they can incorporate into their own personal or group choreography. In arts classes like music and theater, students often read and perform existing works. Dance provides students the creative license to make something completely new and entirely their own.
At Crelata, we’re fanatical that dance is for everyone. With our on-demand dance class solution for schools, we provide strategies for adapting our video lessons for diverse learners and include closed captions and ASL interpretation.
Creativity is problem-solving
When you hear “creativity” you might think about visual arts like painting, drawing, or sculpting. Maybe you think of a friend who is super crafty! These are great examples of creativity, but the core of creativity is using your imagination to solve problems.
When faced with a problem, old ways of thinking aren’t going to yield new solutions. Creativity means thinking outside the box to come up with something new, something better, or something different.
Dance teaches students creativity by not just thinking of new solutions, but by doing them! Dancers take action. They physicalize. They do. By improvising, students learn to make their own choices and not just do what they’re told. It means trying new things, even if you’re scared, because the process and outcome can be amazing!
What’s the Difference Between Studio Dance and Dance in Schools?
It’s time for us to get something off our chest. While studio dance can be a life-changing experience and has an important role in the dance education world, it’s not the best way to reach all students with meaningful dance education. Studio dance classes have obvious barriers to access such as cost, location, and time, along with varying quality of instruction and student experience. That’s why, at Crelata, we’re adamant that dance belongs in schools, including, but not limited to, public, private, charter, and home schools.
What is studio dance?
Studio dance classes traditionally include dance styles such as Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Ballroom, etc. Classes are taken outside of the school day, have their own tuition, and can vary in quality. Some studios are connected to dance companies and/or have professional-level training programs and some allow teenagers to teach classes! There are no set standards that all studios must adhere to so each studio will provide a completely different educational experience. Parents should do extensive research prior to enrolling their child at a dance studio. The goal of studio dance is individual proficiency in the given dance style, demonstrated in competitions or recitals. Studio dance is a great option for students with an existing interest in dance whose families have the means to enroll them. Studio dance classes instill discipline, teamwork, and perseverance.
Teaching dance in schools makes dance more accessible!
Dance classes in schools have an entirely different focus than studio dance classes. Instead of a focus on individual proficiency in one selected dance style, the general focus is on a holistic educational and cultural experience. Dance classes in schools can incorporate dance styles from all over the world. Students learn the history, culture, and social aspects of different dance styles while creating, performing, responding, and connecting. Dance classes can and should be incorporated with history and social studies to provide integrated educational experiences.
Classes can be taken during the school day or during after-school programs, are accessible to everyone, and are taught by certified dance educators or teaching artists affiliated with highly reputable dance companies (where extensive training is provided). Performances and recitals can absolutely be incorporated, but they are not required. The experience and process of learning dance is celebrated in schools, not just the end result.
Teaching dance in schools also removes accessibility barriers that prevent students from experiencing the benefits of dance education. In most cases, children do not choose where they go to school and what opportunities they have access to. When dance classes are offered as a part of the standard curriculum, all students can participate. Being “forced” to take a mandatory dance class just might spark a lifelong appreciation of movement and inspire new self-confidence!
Everyone can enjoy the benefits of dance in school.
How to Get Dance in Schools
We hope you understand and agree that dance should absolutely be taught in schools! We built Crelata with the mission of making dance education more accessible through the use of technology. Our on-demand dance classes for kids are:
- Made for use in schools, whether that’s public, private, charter, home school, or anywhere else students are taught
- Created by dance education experts
- Filmed strategically for ease of comprehension
- Effortless to implement – no dance experience required!
- 100% ad-free
- Accessible with closed captioning in English & Spanish plus ASL interpretation
Bring dance to your students with a Crelata subscription! Learn more about our plans for teachers, schools, and districts.