Quarantine has been monotonous and because of the lack of studio time I have found myself just wondering what to do. One of the many things I have been doing during this never-ending isolation is watching movies. I love dance and watching movies. I thought why not kill two birds with one stone? Here are my top 10 dance movies to watch when you are very bored and want something to make you smile, laugh and cry. (from the perspective of Jules, a 15-year-old teenage dancer).
*In chronological order of age of viewers from youngest-oldest
Happy Feet (G)
While this movie does not seem like a dance movie it has some showstopping tap dancing while being such a fun kids’ movie. It also covers the danger of climate change and global warming which is very relevant to the world right now. This childhood classic revolves around little penguin Mumble who can’t carry a tune. In his world one must be able to sing to attract a mate however since Mumble can’t he feels like he doesn’t belong. He may be an awful singer but he sure can tap! This movie will bring back all the memories you had when you were a kid and more.
Billy Elliot (G)
Set in 1984 England the movie follows 11-year-old Billy, as he quits boxing and begins ballet class which then leads him to find his real passion. Billy has a natural talent and could quite literally dance circles around all of us. This film spreads the message that we should always be true to ourselves and never change for anyone. This movie was one of the first dance movies I have ever watched and I have never looked back.
First Position (G)
The documentary First Position follows the journey of six young dancers while they are preparing for the Youth America Grand Prix Finals in New York City. YAGP which is an annual dance competition with competitors that ranges from ages 9-19 could give them the opportunity to secure a spot at a top ballet school/company. It features dancers such as Michaela DePrince, Aran Bell, Miko Fogarty and more as they train and prepare intensely for a major turning point of their career. As a person who has competed at YAGP, this does an excellent job showing the inner workings of competition and the work one has to put in to be able to be able to perform!
One of the most amazing dancing movies of all time is about a town in which dancing is not allowed. It will inspire you to get up and start dancing and have you singing soundtrack songs forever. It may even inspire you to take a dance lesson or two. This movie is so fun and a classic that I would recommend to everyone!
Red Shoes (PG-13)
Before the Red Shoes was a ballet, it was a movie. In this movie Vicky Page is destined for greatness as a professional ballerina. She then becomes distracted by a charming and handsome composer. She must choose between her desire to love and desire to keep dancing. This movie shows the struggles of a dancer having to choose between two different paths which is something many people can relate to. This movie has beautiful cinematography and music to match the dancing.
Save the Last Dance (PG-13)
Save the Last Dance which came out right after 10 Things I Hate About You, centers around a teenager, played by Sean Patrick Thomas, who helps a character played by Julia Stiles train for a dance audition. This film has bits of hip hop and ballet which give you a perfect mix of both genres. If you love Julia Stiles, this is for you. This movie basically solidified Julia Stiles as the ‘00 teen movies darling. This movie is a classic and so worth it.
Step up (PG-13)
Step up, Similar to Save the Last Dance, does a great job of fusing two opposite dance styles (ballet and hip hop). It does this by the interests of the main characters. This movie is also a classic and a great romantic drama. It features Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan. Step up also is a series and a great movie to watch if you are in the mood for something fun and exciting.
Center Stage (PG-13)
You have to admit the choreography and dancing during Center Stage is top notch. Center stage which follows the Journey of Jody (a young dancer) through her time at the American Ballet Academy is also one of the greatest romantic dramas of all time. Not to mention the killer costumes and ending dance number. This one’s a classic and one of my favorites of all time.
Based on the musical “Chicago”, this film shows dancers Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart on the journey to fame and stardom. This movie shows the seamless transition of the classic Bob Fosse choreography from the Broadway stage to the big screen. “Chicago” pays homage to some of the amazing moves and style of Bob Fosse’s original choreography. This movie also has an amazing plot and stellar musical numbers to match. If you are into Fosse jazz, I would recommend this to you 100%.
Black Swan (R)
Black Swan includes gorgeous dancing along with a scary plot. Natalie Portman who plays Nina is a ballerina who, in an attempt to portray her character, becomes consumed by this dark leading role. This movie is extremely interesting because every character and situation is portrayed through Nina’s eyes so the audience may never know what actually happened. The ballet is stunning but there are also parts that may be disturbing. This movie is for more mature audiences but it does have some amazing and interesting choreography.
*for more mature audiences
This year marked The Gabriella Foundation’s 20th anniversary of providing transformative dance programs to thousands of Los Angeles youth. Like many others, our 2020 started off with a check-list of events and exciting plans for the new year – A Block Party in March, a Gala performance in May, and Student Showcases in the summer! While the unexpected changes of COVID-19 brought us challenges and caused us to shift our plans, we are so grateful and happy to share how we have pivoted through these past few months to continue offering 130 weekly classes, virtually!
When the quarantine first went into place, we offered Instagram Live classes twice daily to continue supporting our community. We knew that through uncertain times, consistency was important to create a sense of normalcy and routine, especially for our students. This was the easiest and quickest transition to keep our students, families, and Teaching Artists moving. With a different style of dance offered every day, our Teaching Artist team was excited to continue connecting with students to move their bodies. Although teaching online isn’t the ideal way to teach dance, it certainly was a better alternative to not dancing at all. We received several messages from students and parents thanking us for finding a way to bring some of our programs into their homes. We recorded our classes so those who couldn’t join in during class times could refer back to the 45-minute dance classes at their own convenience. While it was wonderful to read encouraging comments and see smiling emoticons pop-up during our daily Instagram classes, something was still missing.
Students and Teaching Artists alike craved an even more interactive learning experience. Since we still aren’t able to hold classes face-to-face yet, our ingenious community sought creative ways to cultivate more of a feeling of togetherness for our virtual classes. After doing research and testing, in mid-May, we shifted our class offerings from Instagram to ZOOM. The opportunity to utilize the more interactive ZOOM platform appealed perfectly to us as our students would be able to see and dance with their classmates in real-time. New formats and ways of teaching emerged for several of our Teaching Artists in terms of focusing on providing student leadership opportunities.
Artistic Director and Jazz Teaching Artist, Tina Banchero provided insight into how utilizing the spotlight feature on ZOOM:
“After I demonstrate a phrase of dance I am able to spotlight one of the students to lead while they all try the movement together. This gives the students a chance to follow along while allowing me to watch. I rotate student leadership throughout the class so everyone gets a turn. This gives the students a chance to challenge themselves and me the opportunity to provide feedback, praise, and corrections”.
Another one of our Teaching Artists, Alice Kim, who is also an alumna of our program, talks about how our ZOOM classes have been a valuable support system for our students during this pandemic, “I do believe having dance classes on Zoom has brought some semblance of normalcy in our community. Our EBD kids are showing up, working hard, and bringing out passion in their dancing. I’m so proud of them”.
Our talented team of diverse Teaching Artists from various dance backgrounds has such a plethora of knowledge, technique, and artistry, that moments to provide student leadership opportunities in class can sometimes get over-looked. The silver lining to our virtual classes is that, as Banchero states “spotlighting students provides a positive takeaway in a less than ideal situation”.
For more information on our online resources and our upcoming ZOOM Summer Session which will begin on June 22, 2020, please visit our website: https://www.everybodydance.org/
Every year on April 15th, the birthday of legendary Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci, World Art Day is celebrated around the globe. It’s a fantastic time to elevate the fine arts in their many forms, from dance and theatre to paintings, sculptures, and more.
As we know, arts education plays a critical developmental role in our kids’ lives. It’s something that helps them with academics, offering the potential for improved word use, math skills, and concentration. Time spent learning about and creating art also offers many cognitive boosts, including improved decision making abilities and use of reasoning as well as increased creativity. It additionally serves as a source of self-expression and release of tension, which helps our kids to feel happier, more relaxed, and more positive overall. (Source)
Getting Kids Engaged in Art
Kids and the arts are a natural fit, but a little bit of prompting is sometimes required to make screens seem less interesting than creative time. Investing in some fun and functional gear that’s just theirs, like organizational easels, drawing tables, and supplies and mediums they’re interested in, can drive their desire to create and keep them engaged in their projects.
Giving kids their own space to create and allowing for plenty of open-ended creative time help them to feel comfortable engaging in self expression this way. Encouraging them to focus on the kinds of projects and subjects they feel passionate about and allowing them to think and work outside the box can foster a lifelong passion for art and creativity.
What About Dance?
Dance is its very own artistic medium, offering unique physical benefits that go beyond that of art made on paper. When they engage in dance, kids reap a wide range of both physical and mental benefits. Some of these include an improved fitness level, better balance, increased flexibility, and an overall increase in motor skills. Additionally, dance serves as a way to release tension and negative feelings and promote neurological development through movement and music. (Source)
Wondering how to make dance a regular part of your child’s life?
- Dance party: Whether it’s scheduled or unscheduled, taking regular time to have a dance “party” is a great way to release some tension, get the wiggles out, burn off energy, and access the many benefits of dance. Just throw on you and your kids’ favorite tunes to get started — it’s not a hard sell, especially for the little ones.
- Make music available: A way to listen to their favorite songs is a big first step here. Whether it’s a radio, iPod, or playlist on a shared family device, giving your kids a way to listen to their music can get them up on their feet to sing and dance.
- Get up and shake it: They’re a lot more likely to join in when you start and participate in the dancing, so get involved — parents reap benefits from dance, too!
- Positive reinforcement: This one is simple; just let them know they’re doing great, and they’ll register positive feelings toward dancing.
- Watch fun dance videos online or on TV: There are tons of incredible performances both online and on dance shows on television which can serve to inspire kids; sit and watch some together for motivation.
Performing and visual arts have more amazing benefits to offer children, and the experts at We The Parents have crafted an infographic which details 51 ways engagement with the arts is beneficial; check it out to learn more.
Want to improve your posture and balance as a ballet dancer? Do you have foot pain that doesn’t go away? Since you can’t opt for supportive footwear all the time, foot arch exercises can help all those things for the times you’re in ballet slippers or barefoot. There are simple steps you can take as a dancer to get fabulous foot arches.
First, it’s best to find out what type of foot arch you have. Do you have a normal, flat, or high arch? Once you figure that out, it’s time to work those feet.
Place a lightweight towel on the and while barefoot try to grab it with your toes. Then, pull it toward you. Repeat with the other foot.
Sit down and cross your legs. Grab the toes of the top leg with one hand and hold your ankle with the other hand. Pull your toes toward you. Repeat with the other foot.
Stand with your shoulders and feet the same width apart. With your toes relaxed, slide your heels toward the balls of your feet while keeping them on the floor. Then, slide your feet back to the flat position. Do this 10 times.
Sit in a chair and place a small ball (tennis ball or massage ball) under the arch of your foot. Apply pressure to the ball. Then, roll the ball back and forth under your foot and apply pressure when you hit an area that feels tight. Do this a few times or until your muscles relax. Repeat on the other foot.
Sit on the floor and extend your legs in front of you. Point your toes and hold for 5 seconds. Then, flex your toes in the same position and hold for 5 seconds. Move your toes back to the pointed position and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
Stand with your shoulders and feet the same width apart and squeeze in your butt. Keeping your quads tight, raise your heels off of the floor. Try to go as high as you can. Hold that position for 5 seconds. Lower your heels back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Sit in a chair and place a small ball under the ball of your foot. Keep your heel on the floor. Curl your toes on the small ball and make a motion as if you were trying to pick it up. Squeeze and release. Do this 10 times. Repeat on the other foot.
Lay on your back and raise your feet in the air. Keeping your legs still, move your feet to spell out the letters of the alphabet or numbers 1-25. Do one round of small letters or numbers and another round making them a bigger size.
Not only will these exercises improve your posture and balance, but they will help your overall health – and protect you from getting plantar fasciitis. Get stretching!
~ Rae Steinbach for Taos Footwear: Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).
We got to chat with Cherie Hill, the new President of CDEA about the new dance standards for 2020.
Congratulations on the well-deserved new appointment as the new Co-President of CDEA! What is your vision for 2020/2021?
Thank you. I have enjoyed this last year serving as President-elect, and the opportunity to work with our President team: Kim Hoj (Co-President), Nicole Robinson (now past President), and Myshia LeBoss (President-Elect). I notice a beautiful synergy occurs when we work together, which is very special. Part of my goals for the upcoming year is to contribute to the work the board has already begun. As we think about the future of CDEA, we must implement systems that will help sustain and strengthen the organization. We want to keep CDEA running as smooth and efficient as possible as board members change, and the membership grows.
I am also thinking about advocacy, and ways to authentically connect our organization with other alliances working on behalf of arts and education within the state. I feel now is an essential time for all arts education disciplines to unify and advocate on behalf of our students and teachers in CA. As one of the most diverse states in the country, we continue to fall behind when it comes to arts education, equity, and access. I know that our students deserve more and that we need to do better. I envision bringing all the dance sectors we serve, including early childhood, teaching artists, K12, and higher education together to advocate for legislation and policy that will benefit our students and bring inclusive and equitable dance programming.
Beyond the conferences, what is CDEA doing to promote high-quality dance education in California?
In addition to holding an annual state conference, CDEA hosts “Whatever You Need Workshops,” and the CA Dances Festival. “Whatever You Need Workshops” happen throughout the year and are professional development workshops for and by CDEA members. Last year CDEA helped host five different “Whatever You Need Workshops” featuring master dance classes by phenomenal teachers at an affordable rate. The workshops also provide opportunities for CDEA members to network and dance together, building our dance education communities. Applications are open twice a year for members to propose planning or to host a workshop.
Professional and student dance groups can apply to participate in the CA Dances festival. The festival brings students and choreographers together to perform and share artistic work on the same stage. This year’s CA Dances included 19 different groups and over 180 dancers. To witness so many teachers, students, and choreographers sharing their work in one night is extremely rare. The festival shows off the diverse talent we have within the state and gives our students a chance to view different choreography from outside of their hometown.
As a board, we continue to sit on the CA Alliance for Arts Education Policy Council and work with state organizations in theater, music, and visual art to advocate for more legislation and funding that supports dance education programs.
The new California Dance Standards were a big talking point at the CDEA conference. What is your approach to bringing the standards to life in the classroom/studio?
I like to begin creating my dance units thinking about the dance concepts or ideas I want to explore with my students, and asking them what dance topics or movements they want to learn. I then use this information to plot out a draft of what a 10-12 week unit may look like incorporating mine and their ideas, and the developmentally appropriate goals I have for the class. After, I can take a look at the standards to see which ones we are meeting, and where there are gaps. I get excited thinking about ways we can fill the gaps by expanding our curriculum. One thing I like about the new CA Dance standards is the emphasis on students using their ideas and creative skills to make and perform a dance. As a choreographer and performer, I am interested in innovation and the forming of new dance material. The standards allow for this type of creative processing.
If you could give Dance Educators one piece of advice in implementing these new standards, what would it be?
Start with what you know! Dance educators do not have to throw away their knowledge to meet the standards. Begin where you are. If there are standards that you have questions about, reach out to fellow dance education organizations or dance educators. Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley hosts professional learning workshops and free consultations for dance educators throughout the year. CDEA helps bring dance educators together to talk about relevant topics through “Whatever You Need” workshops and Coffee and Conversations gatherings. You can log onto the CDEA forum to post a question or seek advice. The CA Department of Education is also hosting special webinars on implementing the standards. Tap into your dance education community.
How can Dance Educators support CDEA?
CDEA exists because of people just like you! We are a volunteer board that is passionate about ensuring that high-quality dance education continues and grows within our state and communities. We appreciate members supporting us through attending our events, hosting an event, reading our emails, voting, and eventually joining our board. Our next board election is February 2021, and we need representatives. Please consider volunteering to be a greater or executive board member. Also, if your site can host a conference, CA Dances, or “Whatever You Need Workshop,” get in touch with us!
In researching your impressive background, one of your focuses is on the body as a vessel for metaphysical transcendence. Can you talk a little bit more about that and how dancers can benefit from this philosophy?
I firmly believe that dance enables us to connect with not only our bodies and minds but also our soul. When I’m dancing and fully present, I feel as if anything is possible. This type of presence is something I aim for my students to experience and is how I approach improvisation and choreography. Day to day life is challenging, and the different factors that we experience can lower our sense of self. Dancing, for me, is a reminder of the power I behold and the strength that I have. This power is innate and extends beyond the material world.
Can you talk about how students from various cultural backgrounds can benefit from the new standards?
I am happy that the new CA Dance standards broaden the definition of what makes a cultural dance. Instead of only teaching a folk dance or dance from outside the country, the standards emphasize that students should experience different dance styles, genres, and cultures. I feel this is an important distinction that gives permission and credibility for students to experience more diversity within the dance classroom.
To find out more about CDAE check out their website at: https://www.cdeadance.org
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The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times.
- Arts improve individual well-being. 69 percent of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences,” 73 percent feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in,” and 81 percent say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”
- Arts unify communities. 72 percent of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity” and 73 percent agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better”—a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories.
- Arts improve academic performance. Students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs, standardized test scores, and college-going rates as well as lower drop-out rates. These academic benefits are reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Yet, the Department of Education reports that access to arts education for students of color is significantly lower than for their white peers. 91 percent of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.
- Arts strengthen the economy. The production of all arts and cultural goods in the U.S. (e.g., nonprofit, commercial, education) added $804 billion to the economy in 2016, including a $25 billion international trade surplus—a larger share of the nation’s economy (4.3 percent) than transportation, tourism, and agriculture (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $166.3 billion in economic activity annually—spending by organizations and their audiences—which supports 4.6 million jobs and generates $27.5 billion in government revenue.
- Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businesses. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters—valuable commerce for local businesses. 34 percent of attendees live outside the county in which the arts event takes place; they average $47.57 in event-related spending. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences.
- Arts spark creativity and innovation. Creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders, per the Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report—with 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. Research on creativity shows that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than other scientists.
- Arts drive the creative industries. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. A 2017 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 673,656 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts—4.01 percent of all businesses and 2.04 percent of all employees. (Get a free local Creative Industry report for your community here.)
- Arts have social impact. University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates.
- Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff. 78 percent deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.
10. Arts for the health and well-being of our military. The arts heal the mental, physical, and moral injuries of war for military service members and Veterans, who rank the creative arts therapies in the top 4 (out of 40) interventions and treatments. Across the military continuum, the arts promote resilience during pre-deployment, deployment, and the reintegration of military service members, Veterans, their families, and caregivers into communities
As a kid, and to this day, I have always shed a couple tears when watching any version of the Lion King. We all know the scene, when our hero Mufasa is betrayed by his brother scar and killed in an animal stampede. This animated clip causes emotion for all that watch, but imagine watching that in a big professional theatre, with over 700 young talented dancers performing and interpreting that scene with movements of their body? No words, just the beating music that goes to the rhythm of your heart beat as you get excited to watch them dance. This was my first encounter with Everybody Dance! and The Gabriella Foundation. Everybody Dance! took a piece of everyone’s childhood, and turned it into a masterpiece that moved me to tears, more so than the movie itself. Initially I had simply gone to the end of year Recital to watch my nephew perform his number, but I quickly realized that my attention should not be centered on one single dancer. I was captured by everyone on stage.
This performance really stayed with me through the entirety of my senior year of college, so it was fate when I stumbled upon an internship at The Gabriella Foundation. I was urged to apply by family members who had students in the program, praising The Gabriella Foundation for their accessibility, high quality dance education, and kindness. I was skeptical at first, simply because what I had majored in had nothing to do with dance or the arts in any way, shape or form. However, I have always had a passion for working with children and being involved in at least one aspect of their life that could be impacted by my actions. With that in mind, I applied for the Arts Education Internship. Before I knew it, I was on a phone interview with the Program and Operations Coordinator, Melissa Flores. I learned so much about the Everybody Dance! program and the internship position in that phone call. An in-person interview was quickly scheduled for the next week. I planned my four-hour drive from University California Merced, where I attended school, down to LA to meet the lovely people that were considering to hire me.
Once here, everyone was very nice and polite and it felt quite literally like a “Whole New World”. About a week after the interview, Melissa called to let me know I got the job. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be working for such an amazing, uplifting non-profit.
I have now been working with The Gabriella Foundation for almost three weeks and it has been such an amazing learning experience. In just my second week, I was able to see and aid in the production of this year’s recital, Aladdin. Attending Tech Rehearsals, meeting the amazing staff and parents, and helping with costumes and props. It was all so surreal! It really made me appreciate the hard work that goes into every single recital. Not to mention the happiness found on the faces of the kids as they jumped across the stage. Recital weekend was equally, if not more exciting since parents were flying in with flowers, kids were nervous, and I was running around along with the rest of the staff. It was amazing and more than what I could have imagined.
Around the time I was able to understand what happened in the movie Lion King, I was also involved in ballet. I was 6 and I still remember that happy feeling I would get when I would jump in the air or do a simple plie. That is what I see in the kids who dance with The Gabriella Foundation. The emotions and excitement I felt, is everything I saw in the first two weeks of my internship. I have seen the growth that this program provides on a personal and a macro level! Which is why, if you’re thinking about enrolling yourself, your children, siblings, anyone I 100% recommend it. Because its true you know? Everyone can dance!
Sarai Rodriguez, intern with The Gabriella Foundation
Everybody Dance! is excited to have guest blogger Jenny Silverstone from Mom Loves Best this month! In her post, Jenny takes a deep dive into the benefits of dance.
Have you ever noticed that children love to dance? Creativity and self-expression are vital to your child’s well-being, and dancing is a fun way to get your child to be active. Dancing has so many pros, from physical fitness to boosting confidence and creativity. But how do you encourage it? Your child doesn’t have to become a master dancer, but there are too many advantages to ignore. Here’s how to get your child to reap the benefits of dancing.
Is Dance Education On The Decline?
I’m not a dancer, but I’m still creative, and I have first-hand experience attending a school with no artistic programs. Why has art taken a back seat in public education? It’s not just for those who want to excel in it, but for everyone. Think about dance specifically. Surely you — assuming you’re not a professional — have gone dancing a few times. Dancing is something literally everyone can do.
Your child can dance for fun. If your child enjoys dance as an activity at school, it’s likely going to be casual. It’s only with studios (or art schools) that dance is graded, and should be seen as a serious commitment. Even if your child takes up dance as an academic, competitive or career-based skill, it won’t mean that they’ll dedicate their life to dance. It’s no different from any other compulsory subject at school.
It’s much the same as teaching children science, even if they’re not destined to pursue a scientific career. Art is innately valuable and should be just as important as other social, scientific or practical subjects. Our school system is based on the unfortunate belief that performance art has no place in children’s lives. But in today’s world, with YouTube, self-publishing, indie platforms, and social media, various art forms are on the rise.
So why, then, do they seem to be on the decline in education? Numerous studies have been done on dance and its impact on students in public schools. One such study claims that dance cannot even be sufficiently represented in national assessments due to a lack of information on its progress (source). There’s still hope. Influencers are promoting dance at schools, and the evidence is blatant. Dance not only keeps your child physically fit, but can also improve their grades, behavior, and mental health (source).
Think About It As A Sport
We’re not saying that your child has to dance professionally. Think of it as you would a sport. Not every child who participates in athletics will end up in the Olympics, but we still encourage them to participate.
Dance is the same. We want to emphasize that unlike the other art forms, dance is a physical activity. You’re about to see the many benefits it offers your child (source)
Physical Benefits Of Dance
Now you may understand that dance is just as much an exercise as it is an art. Let’s take a look at its health benefits.
- It promotes neurological development: When a child enjoys musicand learns to dance to its rhythms, it stimulates their brain. This improves their cognitive abilities, as well as their neurological health (source).
- Dancing keeps your child fit: Your child can improve their endurance, stamina, and energy by dancing. It also encourages strength and muscle development. Let’s not forget that it’s cardio, so it keeps their hearts healthy, too. Since it’s expressive, it might be an excellent solution for children who have an aversion to exercise.
- Dance improves flexibility: Just look at ballerinas. Your child doesn’t have to become a contortionist, but dance can make them more supple. Flexibility can decrease the chances of injury. It also gives you a wider range of motion and improves blood flow to your muscles (source).
- Your child will carry themselves better: Dancing is excellent for your spine. Dancers are taught how to control their bodies to optimally support their own weight. If your child learns to dance, their posture will improve. They won’t slouch and their back, shoulders, neck, and bones will benefit.
- It improves balance: In line with the above, dancing also gives you better balance. Once you learn how to correctly hold yourself, your entire stance improves. This keeps you centered, and is also necessary for your muscles and back. If you’re more graceful, you’re less prone to accidents and injury.
- Spatial awareness is developed: Likewise, dance teaches spatial reasoning — something that not all children are accustomed to. When you dance, you learn to gauge the space around you. It works on your judgment and awareness as well.
- Dancing is rhythmic: You might think that rhythm is something you just feel or enjoy, but having a sense of it can improve your overall health. Like with music, it improves your cognitive reasoning, which in turn strengthens your brain (source). It also helps you stay relaxed, and improves your mental health.
- It’s a release: Dancing takes energy. Your child shouldn’t be dancing to the point of exhaustion, but it’s an outlet for pent up hyperactivity. This can also improve their sleep, focus, and routine.
Mental Benefits Of Dance
Often, if your physical condition improves, your mental health is strengthened too. A strong body makes it easier to have a strong mind. Let’s look at the psychological advantages of dance.
- Dance boosts confidence: This is a no-brainer. If your child is welcomed into a group and is allowed to shine, they’ll feel good. Dancing allows your child to take the lead. They’ll grow accustomed to an audience, and their self-esteem will get a boost. This can help them in other areas, like public speaking or performance.
- Art appreciation: It’s only logical that if your child practices an art, their understanding of art itself will improve. This broadens their knowledge and tastes. Kids will be exposed to many different music styles and cultures in dance.
- It will keep your child motivated and inspired: As with any other sport or activity, your child will learn to persevere. One thing that is often overlooked is that dance will teach your child to learn from their mistakes and keep going. This in itself is a confidence booster.
- Good habits: Dance is based on routine. Your child will learn to be on time, to stick to their commitments, and to practice. There are other life skills that are taught too, like following instructions, cooperation, and preparation. They’ll also learn to be dedicated, and will take on a “work hard, play hard” attitude.
- Dance strengthens cognitive ability: I touched on this in the physical benefits, but these are mental traits too. Dance can build your child’s focus, concentration, memory, and pattern recognition. It can even teach problem solving and innovation. Once your child is comfortable enough to experiment they’ll probably start choreographing their own pieces.
- It can improve communication: With all of the cognitive benefits of dance, combined with the confidence boost, your child will become better at communication. Dance is a form of self-expression and story-telling. These skills will translate into other areas of their lives, like speech.
- Dance is creative: Here’s another one I don’t have to explain. Dance is an art. If your child participates in it they’ll stimulate their creativity. Dancers are always encouraged to freestyle. When your child learns to express themselves as an individual, their creativity will become a force to be reckoned with.
Emotional Benefits Of Dance
It’s all connected. If your child has a strong body that can host a strong mind, they’ll experience the world differently. Remember that we’re talking about art, something that has always been considered emotional, if not spiritual.
- Self-worth is improved: Think about how this can improve your child’s self-awareness. If they have something to be proud of, they’ll love themselves more. This could even be an important method of fighting bullying, depression, anxiety, and trauma. Dancing also teaches empathy, which has the potential to reduce these problems even more (source).
- Dance is fun: It sounds cheesy, but wouldn’t you rather have your child in a dance class than wasting away in front of a TV? Or falling in with the wrong crowd? Children don’t want to be bored. Dance can improve your child’s mood.
- Body language is emphasized: Dance can (and will) strengthen your child’s ability to communicate non-verbally. Not only will their body language improve, but they’ll also learn to read others better. This is a valuable life skill.
- It’s an emotional outlet: Everyone needs something they can pour their feelings into. Dance serves as a vent for your child’s emotional needs. Dancing is cathartic. It can greatly regulate your child’s behavior as well as their feelings. In doing so, it releases stress and built up frustration.
- Dance can keep your child on track: Any hobby or activity can give your child’s life more meaning. The motivation or desire to excel will give them a sense of purpose. Remember that even though your child doesn’t have to pursue dance professionally, it will open a door of opportunity if they want to. Simply put, it gives them something to work towards.
Since dance is almost always a group activity, your child’s social awareness will pick up too. Public schools are notorious for invoking division among youngsters. Dance can help combat that.
- It’s a social activity: Dancing encourages socialization. Dance classes aren’t typically one on one. Your child will have an opportunity to make new friends. This will give them a place to fit in and feel connected to others. Dance teaches us to synchronize, which promotes empathy as well.
- There’s teamwork involved: This means that everyone has a part to play in a performance or routine, and this will foster a sense of teamwork and cooperation. When it’s not serious or professional, dance is not competitive. Everyone has their place and forms an important part of a bigger picture (source).
- Dance can teach respect and understanding: Dance doesn’t discriminate. Your child will be introduced to others of all walks of life. They’ll learn more about society and equality. Since there’s also an element of safe and structured physical contact, they’ll be taught to respect each other, too. They could even learn about different genders, identities, and sexualities.
Academic Benefits Of Dance
You’ve seen how dance improves a child’s physical, psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. Now we can take a look at how they all tie together to benefit their academic performance (source).
- It’s practice: Everything that your child learns in a dance class, from discipline to routine to respect, can be applied in a classroom. This is a major advantage. If they learn time-keeping, dedication, and discipline, for example, their grades could improve. Dancing inspires them to work harder, which is sure to reflect in their schooling.
- It builds character: If dancing teaches your child better behavior and confidence, this will also show in their schooling. They’ll be more relaxed, confident, and outgoing. They’ll also learn how to follow instructions, respect themselves, their peers, and authority. Their demeanor will improve, and they’ll become better people.
- It’s a skill: Don’t forget that dance class is academic in and of itself. Your child is learning and growing and developing a new skill or talent. If they enjoy it, you might find that they’ll pursue it seriously. It’s just as valid a career as any other, and there are many opportunities to explore.
How To Start Dance Lessons
I won’t be surprised if you’re sold on this idea. If so, the next step is to consider how you can get your child started in dance.
The most important question you’ll have to answer is whether or not your child wants to dance. As with any other subject, if they’re forced to participate in something they have no aptitude for, you’ll set them up for failure. Your child’s age factors in as well. Nothing will stop you from getting your toddler involved in dance as an extracurricular activity or just as something silly and fun. Keep in mind that some dance schools won’t accept children who are younger than 4 (source). This is something that depends entirely on the dance school, studio or instructor. Some classes will welcome younger children, others won’t. You’ll have to do some research for the class you’ve selected, to make sure that your child will be accepted there. That said, children of all ages can enjoy and benefit from dancing (source).
How To Get Kids Interested In Dance
Remember not to force it — you might make your child unhappy. These methods can be used whether your child already shows interest or is yet to be introduced to dance as a hobby (source).
- Incorporate dance into their routine: Just as your child has designated times for play, naps, or even TV, you can create a routine for dance and creativity. You don’t have to do it every day, but this is perhaps the simplest way to get them started.
- Promote it: Encouragement on your part will go a long way. When your child dances, compliment them. Explain to them that they can take dance classes and teach them about how it will work. Treat them like a rock star, and they might just become one. This enticement could motivate them to pursue more.
- Get involved: This might work best with younger kids, but they’ll love it if you invite them to dance with you. I’m sure you’ve had a moment like this. Nothing but pure fun, and one more thing your child gets to do with you. Take the lead.
- Expose them to it: Perhaps it’s just as simple as showing them what the professionals can do. They’re bound to think it’s cool, and might want to try it themselves. This can also be achieved by exposing them to musicand letting their inner dancer come out naturally.
Choosing A Class, Choosing A Studio
You’ll make it easier for yourself if you research what’s available near you before you make a decision. From there, you’ll want to consider your child’s interests, goals, and personality. Keep in mind that different styles could affect your budget too. Ballet, for example, needs specialized equipment (shoes and a standard uniform, for example). Each school will have its own requirements, rules or system.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Will your child have to audition? If so, will they be able to handle the audition process, and deal with possible rejections? Will the class accept their age or even body type? It might be a controversial topic, but many dance schools seek potential dancers with ideal body types. Some of them, particularly in ballet, are outwardly strict about their students’ appearances.
You’ll also want to find out what the purpose of your chosen dance school is. Is it graded, competitive or recreational? Having a clear picture of what you want your child to get out of the class will make it easier to choose a studio. Still, the actual type of dance is the most important factor and needs to fit with your child’s personality.
Which Style Should Your Child Do?
There are countless forms here, so you’ll have to do your own research. Start with the type of dance and work from there. You can choose between:
- Classical or traditional: Like ballet, or cultural dances (Spanish, African, even line dancing). These will require dedication, but with ballet especially, it could establish a career path. Ballet typically starts around 4-years-old.
- Contemporary or modern: This includes freestyling, interpretive dance, breakdancing and hip-hop styles. Often popular among elementary-age students.
- Tap and jazz: This might require a specific personality. But these two are excellent styles for those who are not interested in ballet or modern dance. Great for beginners and preschoolers.
- Ballroom: A good choice for children who want to dance competitively, and who aren’t shy to dance with others of the opposite gender. Typically geared toward older children.
- Acrobatic: For the more athletic children who also wish to dance competitively. This might require more dedication than other dance forms but will teach an immense skill set. Like ballroom, older kids are most suited.
- Group dancing: If you don’t want your child to take a class, maybe you can organize a dance crew. These are usually self-managed, and there’s a huge market in entertainment for it. You’ll find varying age ranges with crews.
Ways To Support Your Dancing Child
So far, we’ve covered how to introduce your child to dance. Let’s not forget that dancing could already be your child’s passion. Either way, if your child pursues dancing you’ll want to be there every step of the way. Supporting your dancing child is no different from supporting an athlete, or an academic prodigy. So long as you’re there for them, your child will appreciate it. Taking an interest means more to them than they can express. You want your child to be as proud of themselves as you are. Here are some simple, yet effective, ways to show your child that you’re there for them.
- Show genuine interest: Communicate with your child about how their lessons are going. How does it make them feel? What are they looking forward to? What’s something new that they’ve learned? You can even request demonstrations or offer to help where you can. Documenting their progress in an album, scrapbook or journal is a lovely idea.
- Focus on their strengths: You’ll have to make every effort to discourage rivalry and other unhealthy habits. Rather help them stay focused on their own success. Let them know that you’re proud no matter what and that they have no reason at all to compare themselves to others. A little competition can be rewarding, but make sure it’s not taken too far.
- Help them set healthy goals: Although you’ll be proud of them, and will do well to let them know, it’s your responsibility to keep them grounded. Help them plan what they’re working towards, and show them the way to achieving their goals. If left to their own devices, they might slack or overdo it. Keep things realistic and manageable.
- Trust your instructors: You’re the parent, not the teacher. Let your child’s instructor do what they do best. Obviously, if there’s a blatant problem, don’t just stand back and watch. But remember your place. Motivate your child, but don’t assume the role of the leader. That’s the instructor’s job.
- Teach accountability: Try not to be too supportive. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but any hobby, skill, sport or art form will teach your child that they’re not perfect. Rather than give your child false hope that they can do no wrong, encourage them to learn from their mistakes and work at them.
- Be a good sport: Be kind to your child’s classmates and other parents. You don’t want to teach your child to be petty, jealous or rude. Even if other kids perform better, show respect by extending your congratulations. You (and your child) will benefit from it.
- Don’t be a “dance mom” (or dad): Don’t ever put too much pressure on your child. You could destroy a good thing. Dance will be just one part of your child’s life, so don’t let your desire to see them succeed run away with you. Allow them to pursue other interests, and keep their academics on track.
- Be a proud parent: As I said, nothing means more to your child than your support. If you’re enthusiastic about their talent, they will be too. Let them know, openly, that you enjoy watching them. You can even reward them after shows, recitals or competitions. Tell them they’re doing a fantastic job, and mean it. Display their certificates, don’t brush them aside.
- Be present: Make an effort to watch your child rehearse, perform or compete. Volunteer when you can. Don’t be that embarrassing parent that shows up in a shirt with their face on it, but cheer them on. They’ll love it.
- Make time for your child’s dancing: Beyond being present and involved, you have to make time for your child. If they ask for help, or want to show off a new move, show them that you’re there.
- Have fun! Dance can be serious. It will teach important values, and there’s an opportunity to become big in it. Never let that control why your child dances. The most important thing is that it makes them feel good. Allow them to have fun, and have fun with them.
I’ll say it again: anyone can dance. It’s innate in us all, whether it’s at a party when no one’s watching, or academic. It’s a powerful practice that has much potential to really unlock your child’s skill and happiness, so why not give it a chance? Dancing is often overlooked. Unless we’re thinking of ballerinas, it’s not as revered as other art forms such as painting, or singing. But the benefits cannot be overstated. Your child’s entire life can be improved by participating in dance. I hope you consider it, for their sake. Are you, or is your child, a dancer? What other benefits can you think of? I’m happy to hear your stories and comments.
Everybody Dance! students love to dance of course. And they’re not shy about trying new dance forms, combinations, putting themselves out there, or making mistakes. To them, dance is not about competition or who created a particular move or who can execute a step the best; it’s about exploring their own creativity, working hard to master technique, expressing themselves, and just dancing
They love to learn those new and even old moves that have gone viral – remember the funky chicken, the robot and the twist? It’s so fun to watch them mimic moves that either span decades or have just hit digital platforms.
The last thing they’re thinking about – as they laugh while “flossing” for the hundredth time – is that gaming companies are being sued for featuring well-known dance moves in video games (they probably play!) without the creator’s permission.
Recent articles written about the makers of Fortnite facing multiple lawsuits for “stealing” famous dance moves bring this to the dance stage. Do you recognize The Carlton Dance performed by Fresh Prince of Bel Air star Alfonso Ribeiro? Or Flossing performed by Backpack Kid Russell Horning on Saturday Night Live, apparently upstaging Katy Perry? Or Swipe It created by Brooklyn rapper 2 Milly? If not, just play Fortnite and you’ll quickly be in the know.
The main question is, “What can you do if a dance move you created suddenly appears in a video game or other profit-making production?” The answer is simply, you can sue, alleging copyright infringement.
Can you really copyright a dance move? Well, yes, but you can’t just say the move is yours without evidence.
According to Alex Tutty of specialist entertainment law firm, Sheridans, in Can you really sue Fortnite for ‘stealing’ your dance moves?, “A dance can be protected under copyright law in England under the protection afforded to literary, dramatic or musical works. But copyright can subsist in it only when it is recorded in writing or otherwise. It doesn’t just exist because you did the dance; it needs to be written down or filmed.” Easy enough, right? Especially since these moves have gone viral – videos of the creators articulating them are everywhere!
Not so fast. It’s actually quite complicated. As Tutty continues, there may be questions as to who owns the dance, can the creator prove he/she created something new, or that the person or company “stealing” the move did not come up with it independently. Then there’s the choreography and the length of the move. US law states that you can’t copyright “social dances” like the conga or salsa.
So, what does this mean for Fortnite? Well, if any of the moves above are classified as social dances, Fortnite wins. As for the length of a move, “de minimus discrete dance steps cannot be registered for copyright protection.” How long does it take to execute full “flossing”?
We’re not really sure, and also not too concerned. We’re just happy that dance is getting so much attention, that viral moves are inspiring people to dance, and that our Everybody Dance! students can dance their hearts out without worrying about whether they’re stealing a move.
We at The Gabriella Foundation know full well that dance is a sport. And we see hints everywhere that major corporations and events are starting to agree.
We were excited to read Des Bieler’s February 22 Washington Post article, Break dancing among new events proposed for 2024 Olympics, announcing that organizers of the Paris 2024 Summer Games were proposing inclusion of break dancing alongside skateboarding, climbing and surfing. French break dance Mounir Biba said with pride at the announcement: “There’s simply no doubt about the athletic aspects of the discipline,” (via the Associated Press). “I defy Cristiano Ronaldo to do just one of my movements.”
We agree. Our award-winning Everybody Dance! program offers weekly, very popular break-dancing classes to youth ages 8 and up – the stamina, agility and discipline our students demonstrate is mind-blowing. Of course, so is that of our ballet, tap, modern and hip-hop students, but I guess these dance forms will have to be for another Olympics.
Which is okay because we have a start. And because Dance Spirit has created a checklist of 10 reasons why dance is “undeniably a sport:”
- It demands crazy stamina: Dancers must have the stamina to make it through a performance without showing the audience how hard they’re breathing.
- It’s super competitive: Competitive dance is huge these days and dancers are also in constant competition for jobs and roles.
- It shapes our bodies: You can easily pick out a dancer’s body in a crowd.
- It makes stretching a must: Not stretching is not an option to perform at one’s best.
- It emphasizes strength: Have you ever seen a break dancer do a hand hop? Enough said.
- It often leads to serious injuries: With all of the crazy footwork and demand for flexibility, dancers get injured just as much as, if not more than, athletes.
- It requires the best equipment: Pointe shoes must fit a dancer perfectly, and they’re not cheap!
- Uniforms might be required: Our students are required to wear certain leotards, tights, and t-shirts to class, which promote unity and help them feel more connected.
- It takes years of training: Like professional athletes, pursuing a professional dance career takes years of practice, determination and drive.
- It demands sacrifice and discipline: Quite simply, our dancers give up their free time to dance
Finally, let’s get scientific. Penn State’s SC200! Science in Our World blog sites a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which found that professional dancers have similar or greater aerobic capacity, muscular endurance, flexibility, and agility when compared to athletes participating in high-intensity interval training.
So let’s dance!