Most of us remember the terribly awkward week in school where we realized the school dance was only a few days a way and we had absolutely NO idea how to dance. The best we could hope for was that incredibly strange high-school dance style, with stumbling movements back and forth, and where nervous sweaty hands kept you at a solid arms length away. Although some of us may look back on those moments fondly, many will try to remove them from memory altogether. But today, dance in schools has gained support in public education, not only to prevent those terrible memories, but also as a form of exercise. Dance is now incorporated into most high schools as an alternative to traditional P.E. (physical education). In fact, not only are schools supporting it, but they are also promoting it in lieu of P.E. Dancing in schools is believed to carry a multitude of benefits for student participants.
There is evidence of the power of nonverbal communication through dance. Beyond facial expressions, verbal language versus body language can be a difficult concept for high school-ers to apply in real life applications. Dance can help create an understanding of how the body directs an action without the use of verbal cues.
Ballroom dancing can also promote positive interactions between the two sexes. Social ballroom dancing is often seen as a productive outlet for young ladies and gentlemen to learn dance etiquette. Qualities such as self-esteem, courtesy and the ability to work politely with the opposite gender are often seen as being just as important in dance classes as the dance steps themselves. Many of us could have used all the help we could get in our early teens!
Other benefits attract teachers and schools to dance as well. The Frank Black middle school of Houston Texas says that “Students who excel in the Fine Arts… make better grades in academics, instill self-discipline and increase self-worth and confidence”. Dance falls under this category of fine arts—whether the class is a core class or an optional elective. In many of these dance classes students are required to learn a variety of culturally diverse dances; hip-hop, salsa, ballroom and tango are just some of the dance styles often seen in classrooms or school gyms.
Many of the students who explore social ballroom dancing at a young age will build some (more often than others) much needed confidence as they grow up. This will allow them to feel more comfortable in social situations—not limited to dancing. Perhaps all of the junior high and high school dancing experience can prevent the next generation from at least a few bad memories down the road!