When I was little my parents asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Like most 3-year-old little girls my response was “a ballerina.” Little did I know what the future would hold for me and my passion for dance.
As a current Hermann Sons Life School of Dance instructor, I’ve spent more than 20 years in this dance program. I started taking lessons at the age of 3 and now I am teaching lessons at the same studio I grew up in. I now have my own daughter in the dance program. She is starting her first year as a teacher’s assistant.
Dance makes many positive effects on children. Dance can help children grow physically, intellectually and emotionally.
On the physical side dance can help children with their strength, flexibility and posture. Studies show that some of the most successful athletes attribute at least some of their success to their time at the barré.
On the intellectual side dance can help improve a child’s brain function not only through their thought process but through muscle memory. Dancers become very good at learning and picking up things quickly because of how often they learn a new step or a new routine. I’ve found that teaching repetition when introducing a new step is key to teaching children. The process of repeating the step(s) until they’ve committed them to memory is a skill that dance teaches all children not just in the studio but in all aspects of life.
Dance also tends to teach children to be self-disciplined and self-motivated. Dancers grow accustomed to working in a structured manner towards a goal and it helps them realize that results never come overnight and don’t come without effort and practice. For this reason, dancers are often highly disciplined, and end up carrying this discipline over into other aspects of their lives.
The emotional side of what dances teaches children tends to be my most favorite part of dance. This is the area that made me fall so in love with the art form. It can help a shy student find the courage to break out of their shell. It can help the tiny 3-year-old with separation anxiety find an outlet where she is not scared. For a child who’s had a rough past dance is a place where she can find the courage and strength to freely express herself.
And let’s not forget the confidence discovered by every student in dance. Every child who walks into a dance studio isn’t the same, but to a teacher they are all the same. It doesn’t matter their current or past situation or the fact they might be faced with a physical or mental challenge. When you come to dance class, nothing else matters. Every child is given a chance to be themselves and express themselves creatively. To watch them step foot on stage at a recital or to see what they have accomplished many years later tells me I did my job as their teacher!
Ann P. Kahn, the former president of The National PTA, once said:
“The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children an opportunity to see life with a larger perspective...The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts. The arts say something about us to future generations.”
Editor’s Note: Kim Gibbins has danced with the Hermann Sons Life New Braunfels School of Dance since she was 3 years of age. She has taught dance with the New Braunfels School of Dance on and off since she was 18 and currently serves as an instructor and officer for the School of Dance.
Top Banner Photo Credit: Jenny Skelton