I just read an article ( Lobo, Y. B. and Winsler, A. (2006), The effects of a creative dance and movement program on the social competence of Head Start preschoolers. Social Development, 15, 501–519.) that got me thinking about how little evidence-based research we have in our field to substantiate the great work we do helping children with their social, emotional and behavioral dimensions. I recommend the article as food for thought.
What can a studio director do to promote authentic movement and dance when parents have an idea in their minds of what a recital should look like? There is so much competitive dance out there. Winners and losers. So many commercial approaches, expensive costumes. Even pressure to dress up children beyond their years, with make up and revealing clothing.
I think children should be entitled to be children. That creativity and imagination are precious commodities.
Dance is misconstrued in our culture by many people, who have preconceived notions based on what they see in the media.
I was not attracted to dance because it was “hot” but because it was a place where I could invent, discover and express.
Is there another phrase besides “Gotta Dance” that we can promote? Like “Creativity First”?
What’s a good basic description we can share with parents? “Dance is movement and shape, in space and time, expressed through action and emotion.”
Everything else is style, genre.
At our studio, we emphasize each of these components in conjunction with relating to one another, imagining, expressing, discovering how we think, feel and see the world. The macro ideas. We also address motor control, coordination, rhythm and phrasing. We use three languages: words, music, movement.
One of my students told his grandma, “When I’m in dance class, I don’t worry about anything.”
What a nice compliment. A safe exciting place, worry-free!
Let’s aim for that!
I recently took a workshop with Ellen Allard and she talked about TRUST.
Children trust us when we honor their need to do things again and again, just as reading a favorite book with a parent again and again builds trust.
With trust comes attachment. Attachment is CRUCIAL in the development of young children. Attachment leads to empathy. Without empathy, a child can grow into an adult who does not care about the consequences of his/her actions, who is isolated and disenfranchised.
Repetition, done with enthusiasm not by rote, builds trust. Children want to be able to count on us to provide safe, empathic and engaging structures that they can grow inside of. Like a chick, they eventually hatch out and explore the larger world. When they trust us to guide them in their growth, and we take the stewardship seriously, they are better for it: centered, confident, courageous.
The opposite of courage is not cowardice….it is conformity. I recently heard this remark from a wise presenter at a conference.
Let us support the development of children who have courage, who can grow up strong enough to choose morality over popularity.