1,2,3,4 Get on the Dance floor!

“Clap, clap-turn! Clap,clap-turn” demonstrated our trainer, to the students who were assembled in the studio, awaiting to learn a folk dance routine. Some kids looked confused, while others were eager to rehearse the steps that were just shown. Regardless of how they started, all the participants ended the session on a high note with beaming faces! Such is the power of dance!


Besides being a great, non-competitive workout routine, dance has been found to have several emotional and mental health benefits as well. Hence it is increasingly being used as a form of therapy to treat mental illnesses such as depression-but why should we expose children to dance lessons or activities?

5 Reasons to get on the dance floor:


1. To improve interpersonal communication skills.

As most dance performances (especially those involving children) are staged in groups, kids will constantly be required to work with other children, creating avenues to meet, interact and cooperate with people. Hence, children quickly learn to work within a group. We often see students voluntarily coaching their friends who are struggling and looking out for their peers during our dance activities, eventually forging stronger friendships with them.


2. To improve their self-esteem.

The social nature of dance presents opportunities for children to appreciate themselves in relation to others. This is especially so, for kids who already suffer from esteem or self-motivation issues. These children not only learn to work as a team, they also discover their personal contributions to a performance and gain positive interactions with their peers. Thereby feeling more accomplished and hence, more confident.


3. To aid emotional expression.

Dance allows children to be aware of their emotions and express themselves through movement. Different children have different emotional experiences. Dance gives them the opportunity to explore various ways of expressing their emotions through body movements. This form of expression is especially beneficial for kinesthetic children!


4. To improve spatial awareness and movement.

This form of awareness involves knowing where things are in relation to yourself. It also involves depth perception and judgments of speed and position, making it an important form of intelligence in daily life. Problems with spatial awareness (if of a significantly high degree) can even translate to difficulties with writing and learning certain elements of math! Dance allows you to develop this skill, as it requires you to be aware of the space around you and the way your body moves within that space.


5. To channel your energy positively and learn to focus.

Kids are usually brimming with energy. However this energy can easily scatter, causing them to get distracted, coming in the way of any learning process. Dance is a fun and engaging way to teach children to focus on the tasks at hand. It is usually very effective, as we have seen children cooperating with us for almost 30-45 minutes of dance rehearsals, with minimal distractions! This focused attitude can then be carried forward in their daily lives, allowing them to concentrate better in school and other activities.


Benefits of Indian Folk Dances

Some parents understand these benefits and are increasingly enrolling their children in dance classes. However, many tend to stick to classical dance options. When it comes to Indians, many parents choose Bharathanatyam over Indian folk dances. While the classical dance form boasts a unique list of benefits, let's not forget about its humble folk dance counterparts as well! Indian folk dances also date back thousands of years and often vary from state to state. The list can start with the Theyyam dance in Kerala, Karagaatam in Tamil Nadu to Bhangra in Punjab. Exposure to various folk dances doesn’t just improve your cultural knowledge; it also exposes you to a host of physical, mental and even social benefits.


1. Physical benefits:

Different folk dances may have different physical benefits as they focus on varying types of body movements. For example, while Bhangra emphasizes being agile and light on your feet, Karagaatam emphasizes good posture and balance. Nonetheless physical health benefits from folk dances are definitely attained. In fact, a survey that was conducted with folk dancers revealed that these dancers were physically and mentally stronger and fitter than non-dancers from the same locality.


2. Mental health benefits:

Folk dances are also usually celebratory in nature and performed in groups. This makes them good for stress relief as they reduce feelings of loneliness, gloom and brings some much-needed cheer into your life!


3. Keep in touch with our roots:

It is important for children of the diaspora community to learn about our folk dances, as it gives them the opportunity to learn more about our culture. This knowledge gives a better understanding of one’s self. It also develops a sense of identity and a sense of belonging to our community.


Moreover folk dances are usually easier to learn and less progressively structured than classical dances, making them more ‘accessible’ to the masses.

Images: Students performing folk dance routines with the guidance of Brainworks Education Trainers.


Sources:

S, S. (2013, 07 18). Dance your way to good health. Retrieved 10 01, 2015, from The New Indian Express: http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/Dance-your-way-to-good-health/2013/06/18/article1639634.ece

Takecuchi, C. (2009, 02 04). Cultural folk dances offer a world of benefits. Retrieved 09 30, 2015, from The Georgia Straight: http://www.straight.com/article-199683/cultural-dances-offer-world-benefits

Chatterjee, A. (2013). The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms. The Rupkatha Journal on INterdisciplinary Studies in Humanities , 5(1). West Bengal, India.

Newton, J. (2013, 01 16). Learning Through Dance: Why Children Should Keep on Dancing. Retrieved 09 29, 2015, from The Huffington Post: The Blog: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jeremy-newton/learning-through-dance_b_2485240.html

Epstein, V. (2014, 03 07). Spatial Awareness Difficulties: Does Your Child Have a Problem? . Retrieved 09 30, 2015, from Kars4Kids: An Educational Blog for Parents: http://www.kars4kids.org/blog/spatial-awareness-difficulties-child-problem/


So, why not try your hands at one of our folk dance programmes? We provide informative workshops and fun hands-on dance practices, which will make any child feel like a good dancer!

Lots of smiles, laughter, a great workout and a jolly, good time are definitely guaranteed!

Drop us a mail today at hello@brainworks.sg to find out more about our dance-related activities!

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