Learning through the dance

ballet

During my bachelor degree I had a brilliant opportunity to undertake a two-week placement at school (UK) which provided dance classes for children and youth. Before the first lesson I had an interesting conversation with Jane, a tutor of ballet classes, who explained that the school supports the idea of freedom of choice and creativity and emphasizes the individuality of every child who should get the pleasure from the learning process, be eager to try new opportunities, and follow their own feelings and imagination.
This child-centred approach emphasizes the “process of dancing and its affective contribution to the participant’s overall development as a moving/felling being” (Smith, 1994, pp. 4-6.). Reflecting back I remember how little boys and girls accompanied by a live piano music danced by using their own imagination and feelings, one little girl danced as a butterfly, the other girl sang the “Hickory Dickory Dock” and inspired the whole group to sing together. The main idea was that the dancing and learning was an enjoyable and interesting process and Jane’s role was to support children to build their own understanding through dance and movements. Moreover, parents had the brilliant opportunity to take part in the learning process of their child and even join and dance! I think parental involvement was one of the important factors positively affecting the learning process.
These dance lessons helped children to develop socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually. There were many children from different backgrounds, gender and age, nevertheless children easily communicated, cooperated, learnt together and had fun. Lessons helped children to develop physical coordination, gain strength, and endurance. Furthermore, a well-planned dance program helped children to become more confident. According to Jane, there were some students with learning difficulties, emotional and personal problems, who despite their challenges continued to visit lessons and relax by freeing their emotions through dance activities. As Humphrey (1987) believes “dance is a means of releasing aggression in a socially acceptable manner…the very atmosphere that should prevail in the dance situation, a happy situation free from stress and fear, promotes a feeling of emotional well-being” (p.14). Moreover, during the lessons children developed intellectually. Jane always repeated the phrase “work with your brain, not with your body”, as dance required concentration and a good memory. During the exercises children (4-5 years) counted together, sang the songs, and exchanged opinions, which, from my point of view, definitely helped them to grow intellectually.
I had a brilliant opportunity to see and learn ‘how children learn’, when they are active creators of their own knowledge. I have witnessed new approaches of learning, such as participation of parents, creative dances, and development of the whole child, which hopefully positively contributed to children’s early learning process and development. To sum up, I would like to add that every adult/parent/teacher has an opportunity to empower children by giving them a choice and a chance and let them learn to make their own decisions and trust their feelings.

References:

Humphrey, J. H. (1987). Child development and learning through dance. New York: AMS Press.
Smith, J.M. (1994). The art of dance in education. London: A & C Black.

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6 thoughts on “Learning through the dance

  1. Hi, Ainur! I am very excited to read this post because this topic is of interest for me since I attended the folk dance classes for about 11 years. I was a member of the dance group “Iskorki” which is pretty well-known in Kazakhstan and the former Soviet countries because of the Republican and International awards for the best performances.
    I remember I spent much of my time rehearsing varied folk dances of different nationalities such as Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian,Indian, Korean and etc. The couple minutes that I spent on the stage dancing I tried to do my best at delivering the manner and character of that nationality and the meaning of the dance to the audience. For all the group members it was not just a dance or performance, it was an ART that came from the bottom of our hearts.Before staging any of the dances , we spent time for learning the history and many other amazing things of a particular folk dance. Thanks to these dance classess, I learned a lot about different nationalities and their incrediable peculiarities. I just want to say that dance is an art that develops a child’s physical and intellectual ablities.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Aliya! Thank you for your comment. It is really nice that you have shared with us your sweet memories. I agree with you, through dance one may share his/her emotions and soul. I have been a member of a dance group back at school, so I know and remember this feeling of performing “from the bottom of our hearts”. May be you will agree to perform a folk dance to our GSE community at Nauryz, what do you think?)

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  2. I would like to say some words to ainurjumagaliyeva’s blog. First, thank you for such an interesting story from your life. I think most of us can gain useful information from what you’ve written: first, how it is great to have the freedom of choice in accordance with the inner desire and real passion in something, as for example, I am interested to paint, then everything is in my hands, I just go, subscribe to special center and I enjoy the process. Secondly, I opened to me another side of dancing, wonderful side of dancing, that it will bring more pleasure if I “follow my own feelings and imagination”. When I went to dance classes, I really enjoyed it and felt that it improves and enhances my emotional and physical well-being, however, there were not such freedom. Thus, if the dance classes provide such an opportunity of implementing new approaches of learning especially for children I believe there will be even more positive results. Finally, I think the parental support and participation is another strong point. We should take it into account for the future, that just a word from parents can change the whole life of a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I had some time this year to reflect back on my previous studies, experiences, and feelings and one of the warm memories that I remember is this small dance school which challenged my prior expectations. I believe that giving a freedom of choice is essential for the development of a whole child. Parents and teachers should just be there and support and respect their choice.

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  3. This is a great topic! I believe that whenever there is a chance to implement something encouraging and interactive into education is wonderful! I wonder is it feasible to join the features of such dancing classes with other academic subjects like English or Geography. How would you implement dancing classes into such subjects? Thank you in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

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