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10 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD ALL DANCE!

Activities
8 min read

Dance is a win-win, low-stakes, social activity with positive brain, body, and social-emotional outcomes.


Here’s why we should all dance, and how to get started.

As a dance educator, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing thousands of children embracing expression and movement, improving their coordination, and breaking out of their shells. As a parent, I’ve also experienced the joy my young children found while dancing at home, and the skills and confidence they gained at the dance studio.

These days, kids spend more time on screen and less time interacting face-to-face. It’s difficult to motivate kids to leave the house, and school attendance is at an all-time low. For everyone, it feels easier than ever to stay on the couch. But if we can get kids (and ourselves) into a habit of being active, they’ll see results, feel those endorphins, and make friends through a shared experience. And everyone will be better for it.

While dancing together requires collaboration, partnering, and communication, it’s a low-stakes interaction. Sharing space, taking turns, and sharing common challenges require social connection, but not an enormous amount of effort. It’s an easy social activity to start, stay committed, and form a habit around.

Dance is one of the few activities that provides noticeable progress without a significant competitive element. It can be hard, but the feeling of accomplishment is undeniable when you achieve your first pirouette in ballet, your first pullback in tap, or remember an entire hip-hop sequence. And as kids master new skills, they develop a sense of accomplishment.

Studies have shown that dancing provides benefits for people of all ages, from motor development in infants, to enhanced communication in neurodivergent children, and even reversing mental disease and decline in older adults. For kids, these benefits include:

ACADEMIC

  • Better Grades and School Attendance
  • Improved Memory, Attention, and Comprehension Skills
  • Improved Creativity and Problem Solving Skills

Physical

  • New Neural Pathways
  • Improved Balance and Coordination
  • Stronger Hearts, Lungs, and Bones
  • Improved Posture, Flexibility and Agility, and a Lower Risk of Injury
  • Boosted Immune System

Social

  • Enhanced Social-Emotional Skills
  • Improved Mood
  • Reduced Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
  • Understanding of Other’s Perspectives

Endorphins and serotonin are natural chemicals released through physical activity that help people feel happy and reduce stress. The awesomeness of dance is that it produces these stress busters, reduces screen time, promotes exercise, AND fosters cooperative connections with others.

Dance is a truly universal art form that’s present in almost every culture. You can find dancers and make connections anywhere you go in the world. Bonds between dancers develop organically, and many dancers form lifelong friendships.

There are many options for dance classes including creative movement, ballet, tap, hip-hop, Irish, African, jazz, and ballroom. It’s a good idea to try a few to find the best fit for your child. Look for a teacher who’s playful and helps their students enjoy class. (For first-class tips, visit www.OnceUponADance.com.) If scheduling is an issue, consider asking your child’s school to start a dance club. If that’s not an option, encourage movement and creativity at home. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Model Dancing Joy

Simply put on the music and dance together. Even five minutes can have a positive impact. For added fun:

  • Freeze Dance: Pause the music at random intervals and only move if the music is playing
  • Scarf or Blanket Connection: Each of you holds one end of a scarf or blanket. Step over it; shake it up and down—toss in and bounce small stuffed animals; wrap the scarf around each other; have one person twirl in and wrap themselves; hide underneath together; or throw it back and forth.
  • Pick your child up to dance with or use stuffed animals as dancing partners.
  • Wear silly hats, and sunglasses, or bring out props such as glow sticks, fake tea lights, or ribbons.

2. Infuse Movement and Breath into Reading Time

In all my kids’ classes, dance stories were always everyone’s favourite. It’s exciting to add movement, breath, and connection to story time.

  • Act out part of the story or find moments to connect with each other or with objects in the room.
  • Create playful games such as tossing a scarf whenever a word’s repeated or inventing an absurd character walk.
  • Create hurricanes, windstorms, animal sounds, dragon fire, or the soothing shhhh of the ocean together.
  • If you’re using a food-themed book, wrap up your little burrito and take a bite, or pretend to dig for potatoes on their backs.
  • And for that delightful little caterpillar—let your fingers tickle-walk on their arm at each appearance.

3. Create Movement, Tactile, or Breath Rituals.

Try standing and twirling after tying your shoes, give each other a spinning hug when you come home, or sing a good-morning song together each day.

4. Explore Dance Fundamentals with an Obstacle Course.

Arrange cushions to walk across, chairs or boxes to crawl or belly-scooch under, rolled-up towels for a balance walk, objects to jump on or over, or a sturdy stool to do a balance pose.

5. Give Kids Movement Challenges.

Using a stopwatch, see how long they can stand on one foot, dance with a foot in the air, or perform other movement challenges.

6. Make Up Silly Dances to Nursery Rhymes.

Make new versions of any fingerplays you know, using your whole body. For example, Open Shut Them can become a big jump with arms out and then squeezing into a small shape.

7. Give Kids a Movement-Sequence Challenge.

Can you remember and perform this sequence in order: four knee bends, three jumps, two spins, and one kick?

Teaching kids to take movement breaks, develop body and breath awareness, and share joyful movement is a gift. And helping kids step into that One Big Dancing World might be the start of something wonderful. Happy Dancing!

Teacher Terrel and her daughter started creating dance books under the pen name Once Upon a Dance in 2020, hoping to keep kids active and moving during the lockdown. Thirty books later, their books are still a passion project, and all of this decade’s royalties are donated to charity partners.Once Upon a Dance books and videos are a delightful way to introduce children to the world of dance. The unique approach combines whimsical stories with movement, breath, and connection to spark imagination and creativity. Look for the award-winning books wherever books are sold online, visit www.DanceStories.com, or check out their YouTube stories @OnceUponADance590.

DANCE PROGRAMS

ARTS UMBRELLA

bit.ly/3THdmST

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At the leading edge of dance education, Arts Umbrella’s School of Dance balances physical development with emotional and intellectual growth, helping students develop the tools needed for success in and out of the studio, advancing every dancer’s potential through a ballet-based program. Arts Umbrella Dance graduates are lauded for their professionalism and dedication, going on to join companies across North America and Europe.

BAZA DANCE STUDIOS

bazadance.com/kids-teen-dance-classes-vancouver/

1304 Seymour Street, Vancouver BC 778-379-2292

10 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD ALL DANCE! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Nourish your child’s love of dance at Baza Dance! In our weekly Dance Explorers class for 4-6 years and Hip Hop class for 7-9 years, creative minds and active bodies dance, hop, skip and jump through a fun exploration of imagination and movement! Join us for our Annual Baza Kids Open House on Sunday, April 7, 10:30am-12:30pm and dance with us!

LIGHTS UP MUSICAL THEATRE SCHOOLS

lightsuptheatre.ca/

Locations throughout Vancouver & the Lower Mainland 1-888-502-5253

10 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD ALL DANCE! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Lights Up Musical Theatre Schools provides singing, dancing, and acting classes for children ages 3-18 across the Lower Mainland. Our programs and dance curriculum are designed for EVERY child, regardless of ability, prior training, or physical ability. We focus on skill building and fun and encourage students to broaden their performance skills while building physical literacy, movement appreciation, and self-confidence!

TUTU SCHOOL NORTH VANCOUVER

tutuschool.com/northvancouver

1272 Marine Drive, North Vancouver, BC 778-732-5044

10 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD ALL DANCE! - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Every child should know what it feels like to dance….This is the founding principle of Tutu School. We believe that motor skill development is enhanced by music, that young imaginations benefit from exploring enchanted worlds, and that twirling should be a part of any childhood. Tutu School is a boutique ballet studio for children 18 months through 8 years old. Come join us for a free trial class today!

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