The Value of Dance
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
I have been out a lot lately in my role as Examiner for the IDTA and thinking about the value of dance and of people being involved in dance generally. I have always thought that dance has the power to provoke thought, to change lives and to promote communication.
When people enter the doors of our studios, or in my situation the doors of one of the community halls where I teach, they arrive with their own ideas of why they want to start dancing and what they want to get out of it. Some of them have what appears initially as a simple agenda, perhaps a forthcoming event, others have much more complex needs. It would be challenging for us as teachers to satisfy all the individual needs of our new students but I honestly believe that we can provide an enriching experience.
For young and old learning the etiquette of ballroom dancing is a huge priority. Learning to cooperate with someone and behaving with mutual respect is in the teacher’s toolbox of every good dance teacher. Many learners come into the school feeling anxious and introducing people and teachers will relax them in the environment. I am sure we can all as teachers name people who have become friends through dance in our schools.
I have recently been examining grade tests for the IDTA. These grades require the students to introduce themselves to the examiner, to have knowledge and understanding about the dancing they are performing and to complete tasks to assess their skill. Some fine dancers have performed for me, but I am also often impressed about the way the students communicate and conduct themselves generally: It makes me hugely proud of the teachers in the IDTA who have trained them and privileged to be welcomed into their school to examine. I feel sure that when the parents brought the children through the dance school doors for the first time they were not thinking about the wider benefits of dance.
I have also recently been involved in teaching a young man who had anxiety and was not being very well supported in their mainstream school environment. Over the period of several months I have seen such a change in him as he becomes a confident dancer. When people enjoy an activity they start to blossom and it makes ripples into other areas of their life.
Learning ballroom dancing is a wonderful therapy which can inspire people to follow their dreams, to communicate with others more and to feel more able to express themselves. I wonder if what is known as the Strictly curse (marriage and relationship break up post strictly) is actually about emancipation as people get time away from their usual life to really consider themselves and their own needs more deeply: Or is that a step too far?