Dance advocacy can be as simple as sharing a favorite student story in your dance teacher newsletter or social media. One way to advocate for change is by writing a letter to a school board member or a state policy representative.
It Enhances Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Dance has a powerful impact on students and their physical development. It helps them gain greater strength, coordination, and endurance, which translates into other athletic endeavors. It also helps them to develop a stronger sense of balance, agility, and flexibility.
Dance education can enhance the students’ self-confidence and overall sense of self-esteem. Studies with qualitative methodologies report positive changes in body-related perceptions, self-trust, and perceived dance ability, while quantitative studies show an improvement in the participants’ self-efficacy.
NHSDA chapter members are encouraged to use their student membership to advocate for dance education by educating their peers, parents, and school administrators about the many benefits of dance. They are also encouraged to use their membership to get action items, including legislation and regulation that impact the local, state, and national dance ecosystem, directly in their email inboxes by signing up for our advocacy listserv.
It Strengthens Social Skills
Dance is a powerful tool for social-emotional development. Studies show that it promotes self-intimacy, nonverbal expression and communication, embodied cognition and learning, and synchrony, all of which are critical for healthy mental health.
Empathy is another vital social-emotional skill that students learn through dance. In a world that is often filled with name-calling and bullying, students need to understand that everyone has different experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
Teachers can foster empathetic classroom behaviors by asking students to collaborate and share information. It can be an excellent way for shy students to practice socializing without feeling intimidated.
It Enhances Creativity
While some people think of advocates as highly paid DC lobbyists, many different kinds of advocacy do not involve stepping foot into the halls of Congress. Dance advocates can use their skills to advocate for the importance of their art without putting on a suit or picking up a phone.
The teacher educators described their teaching of the creative aspects of expressive dance as a process that takes students on a journey of experimentation in which they might not know what outcomes will emerge. However, the teachers also expressed concerns about allowing movement exploration: ‘Everything is allowed except that it should not be dangerous). The added value of NHSDA induction ceremonies and awards often helps convince skeptical parents to support their children’s participation in dance classes.
It Improves Memory and Attention
Dancers are often seen as athletic, physically fit individuals. As the health and fitness movement takes hold, the Centers for Disease Control and other organizations prioritize physical activity in children’s lives, making dance education an essential ally in public policy.
Research shows that dance improves global cognition. One study showed that youth participants who took weekly creative dance classes for eight weeks had significantly higher levels of cognitive functioning than their non-dance group counterparts.
While some forms of advocacy involve high-paid lobbyists swaying Congress and the President, there are many ways that dance teachers can advocate for their students, their schools, and their community. Sharing a favorite student story or photograph in a newsletter or social media post is an act of advocacy, as is communicating with school administrators about the value of dance.
It Improves Mental Health
Dance has been found to promote mental resilience and improve a student’s emotional well-being. It has also been found to improve the cognitive and physical aspects of students’ health, including their sleep quality.
Furthermore, dance can help students develop empathy, social awareness, and collaboration skills. It is because dance encourages the development of a healthy, positive mindset and self-image.