Encouraging Students to Study Dance in Schools

We all know the benefits that the creative arts provide in developing young people in a myriad of ways, but when it comes to options and Dance GCSE or A Level is offered, it can often be the case that only the talented/experienced able bodied girls who seek a balance of practical and academic studies apply, alongside those who want to avoid writing.

If you are looking to broaden the range of pupils who participate in dance, let’s firstly ditch the myths:
1: It’s for girls
2: It’s for people who already do dance
3: It’s for able bodied people (you have to do the splits!)
4: It’s about sharing emotions
5: It won’t get accepted for university
6: You have to wear a leotard
7: You won’t have to write anything

Examination Dance is a demanding personal journey for each student which calls upon the significantly transferable skills of self-improvement, tenacity, physical effort, commitment, problem solving, refined communication skills, verbally and non-verbally, analysis and critique, self-evaluation, and that’s before they have learned a step! It is a subject that has a huge amount to offer to a broad range of students irrespective of ability or gender.

Here are some great reasons to encourage students to study dance throughout their school years:

1) Dance is an enjoyable way to maintain physical wellbeing, for able-bodied and special needs students similarly
We are all aware of the need to engage in regular exercise but this can become increasingly difficult for students who spend more and more of their time desk-bound in the run up to exams. Dancing gives them an opportunity to get physically active. Many students come to really enjoy dance so this can become a fun means of keeping fit which they may pursue for many years beyond school.

Being a wheelchair user or physically impaired does not preclude a student from developing skills within dance and for students who don’t consider themselves to be naturally sporty, dance can be a great way to maintain physical wellbeing.

2) Dance can help academic high flyers stand out
Dance is often a subject which may not be considered by the academically most able students who may think this is not a subject that will help them in their chosen careers. In truth, the curriculum is challenging and has a significant percentage of written paper preparation – at GCSE and A Level up to 50%.

Knowledge about the world is widely acknowledged to contribute to success in later life, dance students gain deep insight into the most significant arts practitioners from the last 200 years at least, and therefore the political/socio-economic times in which they worked.

Those students thinking ahead to university applications should consider how a GCSE or A Level in dance might help them to stand out amongst many applicants and give them something a little different to draw on in their UCAS forms or at interview. It’s not to be taken on lightly as it’s a far bigger challenge than many students assume but it’s a hugely rewarding subject which can develop into a lifelong love when taught well.
Dance in your school supports Arts Mark Applications and accreditations.

3) Dance improves confidence and self-esteem
Mastering new skills can greatly increase our confidence and improve our self-esteem. Dance provides a fantastic opportunity for this with students often seeing rapid, measurable progress which can give them a real sense of achievement. Students who perform or choreograph tend to find this hugely rewarding – seeing their creativity and fruits of labour performed on stage.

4) Dance promotes creativity and problem solving skills
Through the art of choreography, dance students are given the toolkit to develop higher order skills. They are encouraged to develop unique responses that require them to develop independence.

5) Dancers have to work as part of a team as well as on their own
Students will be more employable later in life if they are able to effectively work both on their own as well as of part of a team. The dance curriculum promotes both of these skills with students working closely together on performances, whilst individuals require a great degree of drive, imagination and determination in order to complete the curriculum.

6) Dance provides an alternative language
As well as contributing to physical wellbeing, dance can also contribute to emotional wellbeing as it provides a means for students to explore and express their feelings about different situations in a non-confrontational way which is not damaging to their own health of that of others.

Non-verbal communication in dance allows issues to be considered in a different context. Dance supports entry points of EFL and ESL pupils as the visual/physical nature of dance particularly at key stage 3 suits students with low literacy.

If you’d like to know more about engaging students in your school in dance, why not attend one of our courses:

Assessment for Learning in Dance
Delivering Dance with Confidence at KS3
Engaging Boys in Dance