Children and Young People's Dance Network North (CYPDNN) has created a new film showcasing the positive impacts dance can have on children and young people. Featuring a range of interviews with school headmasters, dance teachers, pupils and class participants, the film shows how dance can boost health, mental well-being, self-esteem and creativity.
The video also highlights alarming declines in the provision of arts subjects in schools, and the shrinking of resources including specialist teachers and facilities for creative subjects such as dance. According to The Guardian, applications to study A-Level dance fell by a staggering 42% between 2010 and 2018, and the article warns that the UK may lose its next generation of performers if funding cuts continue.
CYPDNN are encouraging people to share the video using the hashtag #DanceImpacts, and add their own personal views, comments and stories about the benefits of studying dance. Sharing the video helps CYPDNN to advocate for the provision of dance activities for children and young people, especially in education settings.
CYPDNN spoke to three NSCD alumni about the impact dance can have on young people.
Tamsin Fitzgerald, Artistic Director 2Faced Dance Company, said:
All children and young people should have the opportunity to explore dance when at school. It not only helps to improve the physical and mental health of young people but enables those unable to verbally communicate find new ways of expressing themselves. Children need creativity to learn and dance plays a big role in that learning. It’s crucial for schools, organisations and the sector to come together to advocate for dance. I have seen many lives of young people, particularly young men, changed by taking part in dance at school and in a youth setting.
Mason Jubb, Community dance practitioner and recent Black Box Dance Company dancer, said:
Dance has been absolutely fundamental in my overall development, both personally and professionally. I didn’t start dancing until the age of 17 when someone from NSCD visited my school and invited me to audition. At the time I struggled academically and had severe problems with time management, organisation and punctuality. 8 years later I’ve completed both a BA Hons and an MA and now work in the profession myself! Dance enabled me to gain all of those key skills and transfer them to all aspects of my life, which had a positive knock-on effect on my family, friends and local community. Dance has such a positive impact on people’s mental health and well-being. As I teach I constantly see new-comers walking into a dance class looking anxious but leaving with a sense of fulfilment, energy and a smile!
Teacher, choreographer and VERVE17 performer Katy Hewison said:
[The #DanceImpacts video] includes many of my high school teachers who encouraged me to take dance further, to audition at NSCD, go through its degree, Master’s programme and now teach for their education department, doing a job I love and travelling the world. Currently I’m working on delivering my Arts Council funded Project Improplay, which researches different impacts dance, movement and imagination can have within early years learning.
Dance and sport in high school supported my learning, confidence, leadership, grades and now my career. I will never forget how my dance teacher, Claire Noonan, encouraged, inspired and supported me, letting me find different creative ways to learn.