WHAT ELSE DO YOU LEARN IN DANCE?
We’ve all been to a school or dance club performance. If it is not our own children, it is the neighbours, nieces or nephews, or our partner’s best friends. We’ve seen good and bad, things that made us laugh. The ‘groan moments’ the ‘Whoops’ and the times we’ve covered ears or eyes.
The youngsters are in the middle of some of the most important learning of their lives. It has nothing to do with their spins, split leaps or creative expression. While all of these things occur, improve and are absolutely necessary, a myriad of other things are happening in our brains and nervous systems.
The best part? You don’t have to try to do anything to make it happen. It just does.
How does this help our academic performance?
Rhythm can be found in all languages through pace, pitch and tone. Reading and speaking require development of these core components which can be achieved in an enjoyable way through activities involving music and movement.
Our bodies perform rhythmical activities every day without us having to consciously think. The brain is especially sensitive to rhythm and has the ability to regulate the body’s internal rhythm- heartbeat, e.g. breathing and blinking. Rhythm can be found in all languages through pace, pitch and tone. Reading and speaking require development of these core components which can be achieved in an enjoyable way through activities involving music and movement.
Remaining balanced whilst performing complex personal skills or group based activities creates impacts on the ‘Focal Centre’ of the brain. Focus is required for reading, writing and reasoning. It requires us to be attentive to a single thing at a time.
For reading this means our balance is linked to seeing a single letter and ‘holding’ it in its place in a word, focussing on a single word and subtle changes which make plurals or different forms of a word. Children who can focus and balance have been shown to have brains that are ready to learn to read.
Dynamic balance is linked to how we reason. If we can ‘hold’ a concept whilst listening other points of view, we can be more openminded to other points of view, and able to provide counter arguments. These complex intellectual skills require the learning of physical, active balance. Practising active and static balance has been shown to enlarge the focal centre of the brain.
Students should be encouraged to dance. All forms of dance, from social dances that allow them to feel confident in social settings where young people dance. Creative dance that expands their expressive abilities and imagination. Its great to know that dance enhances academic and intellectual functions.
Of course, it does you no harm as an excellent form of physical exercise!
Ryan Williamson is a gymnastics and movement expert.