Overcoming Barriers to Primary Dance: Will dance change the world…? Or will the world change with dance?

We know that there are numerous major difficulties for teachers when trying to engage their pupils in dance. Not to mention the potential difficulties the teachers themselves face at the prospect of ‘flossing’ in front of thirty critical children. So, is dancing just a ‘girl’ thing? Is it down to socio economic factors? Do lower income families place less emphasis on the performing arts? Perhaps it’s the confidence and experience of the teacher? Or is it down to a pupil’s cultural or ethnic background?

The answer, sadly, is that it’s all of the above. The fight to bring dance to the fore within primary education is not simply down to one or two barriers. It’s a plethora of red tape for teachers and pupils to try to overcome.

In this post, let’s focus on our pupils’ backgrounds and opportunities: A study by Sanchez et. al. (2012) shines a light on to the difficulties faced by pupils from different backgrounds, ‘The study offers a preliminary indication that economic limitations may not only prohibit dance training but may also be related to lower perceptions of social support both in the home and in dance environments.’ In short, economic backgrounds can determine how much support and emphasis is placed on dance within the home environment. It also discusses how cultural backgrounds have a direct correlation with how many children have any dance experience in their primary years.

So, if we know that pupils from certain economic and cultural backgrounds aren’t being exposed to dance in their home activities, then surely these pupils should be MORE frequently exposed to dance within school than any other group of pupils?

Here at Primary Dance, our passion and main motivation for providing these dance resources for primary schools is that we believe that EVERY child should have the opportunity to fall in love with dance. Our resources expose all pupils from all backgrounds to amazing dance: current styles, moves and music that energise and excite pupils.

Will we break down all the complex barriers to dance? Perhaps not yet. But every time a child takes part in a primary dance class, they have the potential to find a physical activity that they love. Something that stays with them for the rest of their life. Something that provides them with increased mental wellbeing, joy and a more active lifestyle. And that, my friends, is good enough for us.

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