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New Report Presents Evidence of the Positive Impact of Dance in a K-12 Setting

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Sep 18, 2013

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) recently undertook a review of over 200 documents for evidence of how dance impacts learning in the K-12 setting, with particular attention to the categories of creative process, neuroscience/brain research, student achievement, affective domain, student performance, equity, cultural and world dance, and children-at-risk.

Some of the most tantalizing evidence to support dance in schools comes from the field of neuroscience. In How the Arts Develop the Young Brain, David A. Sousa addresses the neurological benefits of dance and movement in schools. He writes, "even short, moderate physical exercise improves brain performance," and "dance techniques help students become more aware of their physical presence, spatial relationships, breathing, and of timing and rhythm in movement."  The studies in the report reveal that physical learning increases cognition, and this occurs at the neurological level. While this is beneficial to all students, children-at-risk populations, children with autism or children with other cognitive and emotional challenges in dealing with conflict resolution and school violence, would especially benefit from dance as therapy. The researchers also uncovered additional studies from the field of dance-movement therapy that highlights the impact dance can have on a person's emotional well-being at the neural level.

The evidence report shows that incorporating dance into the curriculum can, among other benefits, improve student test scores, lower drop-out rates, improve learning in other subjects, foster teacher and student morale, and support the learning of under-served populations. 
"In schools where dance programs flourish, students' attendance rises, teachers are more satisfied, and the overall sense of community grows," says NDEO Executive Director, Susan McGreevy-Nichols.
Pictured Above: San Francisco Ballet, photo by John Spicer

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