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The Dance Connection-- Discover, Create, Celebrate, SHINE!
Deborah Bruckman-Bardun, 11/30/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman:  I am always delighted to hear from parents who have long 'graduated' from their homeschooling years-- and who are now offering their special services to those in the homeschooling community. Deborah Bruckman-Bardun has been a dancer, teacher, and choreographer for many years. Having been a home schooling mother herself, she, her daughter Kristel (homeschooled from 8th grade through graduation from high school, after experiencing bullying in school), and her sister, Charlene Bruckman-Levine are the co-founders of The Home Schooler’s Clubhouse, located in the North Hills area outside of Pittsburgh. Deborah, Charlene, and Kristel wanted to create a place exclusively for the home schooling community and their children to learn, explore, and create in a nurturing and supportive environment. Thus, HSC has been created, with great thought, especially for them. Located at 9142 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh PA 15237, you can contact them at homeschoolersclubhouse@gmail.com or check out their excellent website at www.homeschoolersclubhouse@gmail.com 

I certainly know many homeschoolers whose children have really blossomed through involvement in dance programs-- it's a terrific example of the type of fitness and arts program that you just can't find within a regular elementary or high school curriculum... but it's out there in the wider community! I've met homeschoolers shining in classical ballet, modern dance, square dancing, swing dancing, 'Jane Austen' era ballroom dancing, and much more. Even if you live far from the North Hills of Pittsburgh, I hope this article helps you decide to add dance to your program on some level. And I know Deborah's thought below on the negative impact of too much TV viewing or computer use will resonate with many homeschooling families-- my guess is that homeschoolers are among those few in the nation that have found ways to curtail TV over-use in their homes. Enjoy this article-- and then get up and dance about for a few minutes with your kids!!

The Dance Connection-- Discover, Create, Celebrate, SHINE!

Dance is one of the great forms of art. It is hailed as the oldest of the arts, owing its antiquity to the fact that people dance for the sheer fun of it, for the joy of moving in a way that fits both the inner spirit and the contemporary world. Today, dance is not regarded as merely an art form, but rather an athletic activity. Dance has taken its place beside athletics in the development of the physical being. Every portion of a dancer’s body must be developed for strength, absolute control, and execution on command. The professional dancer requires a long daily workout to achieve this and as such, dancers are also athletes.

The benefits of dance, as opposed to other activities, are immense. It not only encourages physical development, but has been proven to stimulate cognitive, creative, mental, and artistic growth. Serious students who want to become well developed dancers must, as they advance, study for longer periods of time several times a week. Even if a student does not wish to dance professionally, the physical fitness, self-confidence, and self-discipline he or she develops will become a great part of his or her being. No other art form or athletic endeavor offers such complete physical and artistic opportunities as dance does in its varied forms.

According to the National Dance Association, “Arts and health organizations across the globe urge us to dance in order to:

  • Build self-confidence and achieve personal goals
  • Improve core curriculum skills in math, science, and language arts
  • Develop muscle strength, flexibility and improve circulation
  • Improve posture, balance and coordination
  • Enhance self-expression and communication skills with creative decision-making
  • Learn conflict-resolution skills and positive behavior through teamwork

All of these elements develop a highly creative quality of life.”

With childhood obesity on the rise, it is important for children to participate in activities that will make them healthier and physically fit. Dance will develop the body/brain connection (also known as “motor skills”) and stimulate learning. Many children in today’s world sit for hours watching TV, playing electronic video games, or sit in front of a computer. These types of activities do not stimulate creativity or brain development. Anne Green Gilbert, (2006), author of Brain Compatible Dance Education states, “Movement is the key to learning, but people today spend hours simply sitting. Even babies in utero experience less movement because mothers spend so much time in front of computers and television. In the critical years as their brains develop, children should move, dance, play and interact with peers rather than stare at screens” (p. 5).

 Video games and computers have decreased the participation in dance and other related physical activities. Children no longer use their imaginations to go outside and play games or create games. Their imaginations are inside a television box that creates for them, disabling them from creating anything themselves. Their bodies never move because they have a fixation with television. All of this promotes inactivity physically and mentally. “When we watch television, we go into ocular lock, staring with no movement in our brains.” (Gilbert, 2006)

Dance stimulates and develops every part of our being and senses. It benefits children, especially in the first two years, as their brains develop, and also in their growing years. It also benefits adults by relieving stress and releasing tension after a hard and stressful day at work. Audrey Dascomb, RDE, Director of Dance Expressions Unlimited, put together the following chart t that highlights the most common benefits of studying dance:

PHYSICAL

INTELLECTUAL

ARTISTIC

SOCIAL

INDIVIDUAL

Fitness

Intellectual Stimulation

Arts Appreciation

Team Exploration & Cooperation

Self Confidence, Self Esteem

Coordination

Calculation & Planning

Musicality & Rhythm Expression

Communication

Self-Discipline

Cardiovascular Conditioning

Sequential Learning

Creative Expression

Camaraderie

Sense of Accomplishment

Flexibility

Patterns

Imagination

Persistence

Strength

Spatial Development

Innovation

Accuracy

Increased Motivation to Learn

Open to New Ideas

Mental Flexibility, Problem Solving

Right & Left Brain Inclusion (Holistic Thinking)

Improved Academic Performance

(Dascomb, 1996)

The benefits of dance start at infancy and can continue to last a lifetime, through mind, body, and spirit, to enrich us and our children’s lives both professionally and non-professionally.

The Home Schooler’s Clubhouse firmly believes in the brain/body connection and offers dance classes for children as young as 2 and 3, all the way through older teens. HSC’s pre-dance program is specially designed for the young child, catering to the development of their young minds, bodies, and their natural curiosity.

HSC offers pre-dance, ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, and acting/theater for all ages. Special projects will be offered such as visual arts, photography, and painting, just to name a few. Brain Dance, (Brain Compatible Dance) will also be offered as one of the special projects for infants with their parent through adults.

For information on The Home Schooler’s Clubhouse grand opening, go to www.homeschoolersclubhouse.com or call (888) 715-8696.

Works Cited

Dascomb, A. R. (1996). The Benefits of Dance. Retrieved from National Registry of Dance Educators: www.nrde.org/benefitsofdance.html

Gilbert, A. G. (2006). Brain-Compatible Dance. In A. G. Gilbert, Brain-Compatible Dance (pp. 4-5). Reston, VA: National Dance Association.


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