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make your day dance

Why Dance Matters: it’s for yourself alone

April 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Tags: ·

When Rosedah and Rita started dancing in kindergarten, in their hijab, they were both lively & enthusiastic. But as time passed, they internalized the disapproval of their particular community, a fundamentalist faith which discourages music, dancing & the artistic representation of the human form. They always participated, but in a reserved way — gestural instead of postural, with minimal use of space & energy, occasionally with an angry affect. Dutifully, because dance class was part of school, and they were obedient.

When there’s time, I have 5th graders keep occasional dance journals, with entries about collaboration, preferences, or their process. Dance journals are for themselves, a place to write their feelings ~~ to be shared with me or not, as they choose.

Rosedah wrote:   The most important thing I learned about myself in dance this year is that I can express my feeling in dance. Also I learned that anyone can dance. I learned about myself that if you work your hardest you can dance.

And Rita wrote:   After this year’s dance, I learned one thing I never knew about myself. It’s that I love dancing. I used to think I hate dance. But it’s fun and energetic. It’s an exercise. I always come out with a smile. Even if I come with a frown.

Join the discussion about Why Dance Matters here & here.

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Kathleen Kingsley

    This is a sobering post. I believe in religious freedom. I also believe in the right to dance for all children. I really don’t know what to think when the two come crashing head to head. Nevertheless, it seems that these children have learned something about themselves and dancing that will not be undone.

  • megrm

    I’ve given this conflict between culturally sensitive teaching & the educational benefits of dance a lot of thought. The upshot? I try to help every child access the benefits of dance in their own way in their early years…