Today, it’s the International Dance Day. According to French International Theater Institute, the observance is meant to celebrate dance, to revel in the universality of this art form, to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together with a common culture and language of dance.
If dance is a culture-free universal language, it has serious implications for schools and teachers. Dance can bring about inclusivity in primary education since at that stage the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence of most children is quite active. Philosopher Voltaire once had said, “Let us read and let us dance — two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.” Today, there is a need to combine both reading and kinesthetic-bodily intelligence, of which dance is an important component.
Choreographer Eugene Joseph of Trinidad Dance Theater believes that dance is a performing art form that combines aesthetic expressions of mind and body uniquely. Moreover, dance needs to be an integral part of children’s education since it can help their physical, mental and emotional development in an integrated way.
Research studies have shown that by stimulating children’s mind by dancing not only keeps their bodies fit but also significantly increases their cognitive acuity. Dance coupled with singing of subject-matter lyrics such as rap can be helpful to improve neural qualities of the brain of children.
Once, I tried a pedagogical experiment with grade eight students of using rap lyrics and dance for revising a concept of science after demystifying the process of writing rap lyrics and singing with body’s rhythmic movement. Children loved it and wanted more of it. However, for a teacher, it was a daunting task and children were divided into small groups to write their own lyrics and hold a jam session. This worked as a science club activity and an informal way of learning twice a year. The strategy of revising science text was called Write-Sing-Dance (WSD) strategy. However, there were no takers of the strategy and it remained an experiment only.
However, the pedagogical experiment of WSD revealed that rap, clap and tap dances as well action songs based on the prescribed subject matter can be a good ways to make dance a pedagogical tool.