International Dance Day: Uniting The Arts, Economy, And Well-being

International Dance Day is more than just a celebration of movement; it’s a testament to the profound impact within the broader context of the arts.

Celebrating The Cultural Impact

As we delve into the significance of this day, it becomes evident that it’s not only enriches our cultural experiences but also plays a pivotal role in our economy and well-being. 

The Economic Value: According to the Office for National Statistics (2019), the arts and culture sector significantly outperforms the wider UK economy in terms of gross value added * per worker. This highlights the economic prowess of the arts, with dance being a notable contributor. With 2.4 million people employed in the arts in 2022, it’s clear that it plays a vital role in sustaining a thriving workforce. 

Between 2009 and 2016 the gross value added per worker in the arts and culture was £62,000 compared to £46,800 for the wider UK economy. (source: Office for National Statistics 2019) 

Government Recognition and Cultural Significance: In June 2023, the government underscored the importance of the creative industries, emphasizing their role beyond economic contributions.  

Did you know that these industries, shape our societal fabric, influencing our values and enriching our lives? It is a quintessential form of expression. It fosters joy, inspiration, and cultural exchange, which on an international stage strengthens our global image. 

The Intersection of Dance and Well-being: King’s College London is at the forefront of research exploring the therapeutic benefits. Their initiatives such as ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’, ‘Melodies for mums with postnatal depression’, and ‘Stroke odysseys’ underscore the profound impact of it on well-being. Beyond mere entertainment, it emerges as a powerful tool for healing and self-expression, offering hope and solace to individuals facing various health challenges. 

As we celebrate, it’s imperative to recognize the interconnectedness of dance with the arts, economy, and well-being. Through its multifaceted contributions, dance transcends boundaries, enriching lives, fostering creativity, and promoting societal well-being.  

Together we need to embrace the transformative power of dance, not only on this day but every day, as we continue to cherish and celebrate its profound significance in our lives and communities.  

Ways You Can Celebrate Dance And The Arts With Your Little Ones

  1. Host a party: Encourage the children to move freely to different types of music. Encourage them to express themselves through movement and explore various styles ranging from hip-hop to ballet. 
  2. Designate a week of dancing in your setting and watch a performance (ensure age-appropriate) either live or streamed.  
  3. Storytime: Choose a children’s book, with a theme related to movement. After reading the story, lead the children in a activity inspired by the characters or events in the book. This encourages creativity and imagination while incorporating literacy skills. 
  4. Freeze: Play upbeat music and have the children dancing around the room. When the music stops, they must freeze in place like statues. This game helps develop listening skills, coordination, and impulse control. 
  5. Props Exploration: Provide a variety of props such as scarves, ribbons, or rhythm instruments. Encourage the children to move with the props, exploring different ways to incorporate them into their movements. This activity stimulates creativity and fine motor skills. 
  6. Animal Dance: Assign each child an animal and ask them to move like that animal. For example, they can hop like a bunny, slither like a snake, or flutter like a butterfly. This activity promotes gross motor skills and encourages imaginative play. 
  7. Story Sequencing: Choose a simple routine and break it down into steps. Have the children practice each step individually before putting them together to create a sequence. This activity teaches sequencing skills, following directions, and spatial awareness. 
  8. Cultural Exploration: 
    Introduce children to dances from the UK, countries, and cultures from around the world. Show videos and try out basic steps such as the Maypole, Tango, Adumu (Maasai jumping dance), Irish stepdance (Riverdance), Bon or Awa Odori AKA Fools Dance (Japan), Flamenco, Kathakali, or Bollywood together.
    Look at the different musical instruments used to create specific sounds.
    The traditional costumes and make-up worn when performing.
    The history behind them and when and why they are performed. 
  9. Collaborations: Pair children up or form small groups and encourage them to create their routines. Provide them with props, music, and guidance as needed. Allow them to perform their routines for the class, fostering collaboration, creativity, and confidence.
  10. Dance and Emotions: Discuss different emotions with the children and how they can be expressed through dancing. Play music that evokes various feelings such as happiness, sadness, or excitement, and encourage the children to dance accordingly. This activity promotes emotional awareness and self-expression.
  11. Relay Race: Set up a simple obstacle course or markers around the room. Divide the children into teams and have them take turns dancing, from one point to another. This activity combines physical activity with dance, teamwork, and coordination. 

These activities are not only fun but also promote physical development, creativity, social skills, and cultural awareness in early years students. 

As we celebrate ‘International Dance Day’, it’s imperative to recognise the profound significance of dance in uniting the arts, economy, and well-being. Beyond mere movement, it is a catalyst for cultural exchange, economic growth, and holistic health. From its economic contributions highlighted by the Office for National Statistics to its therapeutic benefits explored by institutions like King’s College London, dance embodies the essence of human expression and connection.  

So together, let’s embrace the transformative power of dance, fostering creativity, resilience, and community, not only on this day but every day as it enriches our lives and shapes our shared future. 

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