On Saturday I was fortunate enough to have the time (and childcare!) to attend the One Dance UK Conference for Dance Teaching and Participation, at Trinity Laban in London.
And what a great day it was! One of the best experiences for me was to be able to talk about specifically teaching dance in Primary Schools alongside other people who do the SAME thing! Being a freelance dance teacher can be very isolating so it was lovely to connect with others, share our experiences and discuss frustrations within our area of expertise.
One of the biggest challenges facing our sector is the level of competition we are currently facing from Sports Companies who work in schools and provide the entire PE provision for primary children. Whilst the financial and practical advantages of bringing in ONE company to take care of sport and PE are self-evident, there is a wider concern that this does a disservice to the quality of dance delivery as it is not necessarily delivered by specialists (if at all). And whilst Dance as a subject sits within the PE curriculum, it IS a creative art. The opportunity for children to express themselves creatively is crucial to their personal development – will this opportunity be lost if dance is taught as a sole ‘PE’ subject
Adding to this concern is the fact that Dance (and art in general) is at its lowest take up in schools for a decade.
Those of us already immersed in the world of dance, participation and education are very aware of the myriad benefits of dancing and movement. As Tamara Rojo CBE succinctly put it in her keynote speech, “dance equals health plus..plus…plus”. We just need to get better at saying this. Loudly. And to the right people.
The best way to do this is to speak with one voice – which is what One Dance UK has brilliantly done by merging four key dance organisations to create a strong voice for dance. And we can all do this in our own small way. Having met with other amazing dance artists all working within the same sector as what we do here at JumpStart Dance, I’d love to continue having those discussions, connections and support, especially at such a challenging time for the dance industry.
That’s why we’ve set up the Primary School Dance Network – find it by searching on Facebook or click here to join.
The network is not just for dancers who teach in primary schools, but for anyone delivering dance to children aged 4 – 11, including Primary School Teachers, Brownies Leaders and After-School Clubs. Use it to ask questions, get inspiration and support.
I look forward to seeing you there!