Friday, October 30, 2015

Let’s Social Dance! It’s A Sport That Lasts A Lifetime!

Touching hands, moving feet, having fun, to the beat.  That’s the essence of Social Dance.  It unites us with each other and the music. It teaches us rhythm and coordination.  It puts a smile on our face and a glow in our hearts.  Once learned, people can experience the sweet satisfaction of Social Dance throughout their lifetime.

So why don’t our schools and colleges do more to teach and promote Social Dance?  Why do we pour tons of time, money, and energy into “competitive sports programs” and “performance dance classes” which have predictably resulted in a “spectator society” of overweight couch potatoes?

In contrast, Social Dance can take place literally anywhere, is relatively injury-free, and doesn’t need any special equipment other than a boom box.  And it’s not rocket science.  In fact, the steps are pretty simple.  You can go to YouTube for lots of free instructional videos. Here's a PSA (public service announcement) I did a few years ago on this subject --   

How would it work?  Take elementary schools, for example.  They could teach Square, Folk, and English Country dancing for grades kindergarten thru 5, and then add Social Dance (i.e., Latin, Fox Trot, Cha Cha, etc.) to the program for the students in grades 6 thru 12.  Schools could also hire professional teachers to come in and teach the class. 

In fact, there is already a non-profit organization, Dancing  Classrooms, that does just that.  DC sends “teaching artists” into schools to teach grades 5 and 8, mainly.  They are in many cities and countries and are doing a good job overall, although I have a couple of criticisms.  

First, DC supports a competition at the end of the 10-week session, which tends to defeat the purpose of promoting a cooperative environment. Social dance should offer students an oasis from our overly competitive culture, not another unnecessary hurdle to overcome.    

And secondly, DC prefers not to teach high school students, just the age group who could benefit from Social Dance lessons the most.  It is such a positive and socializing influence that older students desperately need, particularly when the music is uplifting and everyone participates, as in Contra dancing.

Frankly, all educational institutions, including college, should teach social dance at some point during the school year.  Some schools already have it as part of their curriculum, but it should be taught to all students every year.  

Image result for swing danceSo, put some balance into our athletic programs!  Get Sensical and Let's Dance!  It’s A Sport That Lasts A Lifetime!

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