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The Power of Dance

Posted: February 7, 2011

What started off as an idea for a Hip Hop Program for the 4H Clubs in the Southern Chester County area, quickly grew to incorporate many different types of dance. During the summer of 2010, for the first time ever, in collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA and 4-H Creating Community Networks, a curriculum was created to foster development through dance and movement.

 

Travelling to communities in Kennett, Avondale, West Grove, Spring City among others, dance was incorporated into the curriculum that the 4-H team established. A hip hop dance class was established every Monday at Kennett High School’s Migrant Summer School Program, which resulted in a performance on Family Day for their teachers, families and peers.

 

Boys and girls from a West Grove community performed a dance at the 4H Fair held during the second week of August. Aside from these incredible performance opportunities, children engaged in expressive dance circles, simple movement combinations, step/stomp dancing rhythms, “tutting” (a form of hip hop) and ballet.

Educational curriculua were created to incorporate not just dance, but relate dance to culture. In one such lesson plan, the children learned about the Egyptian culture, including how to write their names in hieroglyphics and how pyramids were built. After this, they were taught a small piece of choreography that was a style of hip hop called “tutting.” The origin of the name came from the young pharaoh, King Tut, because the style mimics the angular poses common to ancient Egyptian art.

The months of May and June consisted of strictly planning and development, to create a way in which the children could learn not only the principles of dance, but the Girl Scout Mission. The goal of Girl Scouts is to build girls of confidence, character and courage who make the world a better place.

 

It was not hard to integrate dance into that Mission.Dancing awakens every sense of the body and mind. It develops creativity, problem solving, innovation and organization. It helps children learn important intrinsic values, such as self esteem and confidence development, teamwork and community values, a higher sense of individuality and self worth, communication skills through performance art and movement, as well as increased physical fitness. It creates the framework for self management and social organizational skills needed to succeed not only in performance, but in every aspect of life. Most importantly, it gives the children an outlet to be free. Free to be themselves and to express their individuality. Free to just have fun.Dance cannot only improve individual qualities, but it can also be just as powerful as a smile. It doesn’t need words. It transcends differences of language. Movement is universal, and can portray a lot about one’s culture.

 

Dance can act as a transformative power within oneself. It truly can stimulate happiness in every form. It can relieve stress as well as other negative emotions. If the children in the communities walked away with anything this summer, it was knowing that they don’t have to be good at dance, knowing that they can dance anywhere, anytime they please. Whether you’re in a mirror-length studio or in the grass outside of your house, you can always put on your dancing shoes. As a Zimbabwean proverb proclaims, “If you can walk, you can dance!”

 

By Danielle Chmelewski