Dance education offers many opportunities for students to explore movement and rhythm physically, while also gaining valuable cardio-vascular exercise. But learning through dance provides benefits that surpass strengthening muscles and improving one’s heart beat. As BAC’s Dance Teaching Artists know, the art form can build a range of cognitive abilities and socio-emotional skills.
For example, pre-K students at PS 29 in Brooklyn, who studied dance foundations with Teaching Artist Asma Feyijinmi, practiced moving from high to low and in different directions. These exercises helped them develop their spatial awareness while also increasing their sense of self-control, which is important for any four-year-old.
Similarly, third grade students from PS208 learned the foundations of traditional Indian dances, including specific proper footwork and movement techniques, from Aeilushi Misty. Students then applied their understanding of both traditional and contemporary dance styles to create original choreography. By expressing their own ideas and perspective through movement, many participants gained a positive sense of self, and one student proudly proclaimed, “Dancing is fun. It makes us confident and enthusiastic.”
In addition to supporting skills of self-control, personal expression, and confidence, dance can also incorporate essential non-verbal communication skills. Earlene Greene’s students at the St. Augustine Senior Center studied and practiced line dancing over several months last winter. Participants intentionally focused on using non-verbal cues, such as eye contact, hand and arm gestures, and facial expressions, to stay in sync with their dance partners. The seniors believe these experiences contributed to a newfound sense of community.
For the youngest to the eldest of learners, studying and learning through dance—especially with a talented a BAC Teaching Artist!– clearly offers many opportunities to strengthen the body and the mind.