World Dance Day: Dance is helping kids cope with anxiety during lockdown

April 29, 2020

Dance is a universal language that brings people together, believe schools as they continue to hold dance classes online amid the nationwide lockdown too. They say dance does not just allow children to express themselves but also infuses joy in them during these difficult and uncertain times. Therefore, they have been equally emphasising on imparting dance education to students alongside academics.

Schools such as Jammu Sanskriti School (JSS), Delhi School of Excellence (DSE), Hyderabad and Billabong High International School continue to provide online dance classes for their students. Shashikala B, academic director, DSE Group of Institutions says the focus of their online classes initially was on academics but they soon explored various avenues of introducing co-curricular activities in the online curriculum thereby making good use of this lockdown period for honing students’ artistic skills and creativity. “We decided to take up dance – contemporary, folk, western and classical forms. Dance allows the expression of emotions and creativity. We were all ready to take up the challenge of teaching dance online. We offer dance (zumba and aerobics in Western and kuchipudi in classical form) as a weekly activity for our pre-primary to grade IV students and as VPA (Visual and Performing) activity to our grades V through X students. The objectives of the programme are to develop appreciation for the art form, understand the finer nuances of it, hone the students’ creative skills and to develop a multifaceted personality through training in dance,” she says. Dance also helps children forget their fear and anxiety during such testing times, she says. “Dance has become an antidote to anxiety, it lifts the mood and lightens the spirit. It also builds up the immunity as it is a form of exercise and keeps the mind free from skepticism. It helps to overcome emotional trauma and gives a vent to our expressions,” she adds. 

The online dance classes are being offered to students at least once in a week along with their online academic schedules by DSE. The links of the same are also uploaded on the parent portal app every week so that the students, according to their level (PP to grade X), can click on the link and go footloose. “This repository of videos enable the students with limited internet bandwidth to access them according to their convenience,” says Shashikala.

Dance for special kids

dance lockdown

Jammu Sanskriti School online dance class

The Jammu Sanskriti School has introduced online dance classes for its students with special needs as well. “The sessions for kids with special needs are a little bit different from the other ones. The basic dance steps are included throughout the session and we feel very happy to see that every special child takes it in a very different way and feels very enthusiastic about dancing. Dance breaks the cultural and ethnic barriers and brings people together with a common language,” says Rohini Aima, principal and vice – chairperson, JSS. Amid the lockdown, JSS is conducting one-hour dance sessions every Friday and Saturday for classes I through XII that cover various dance forms like bharatnatyam, kathak, break dance, tap dance, hip hop and folk dance. “Dance is perhaps the greatest benefit for our kids. It allows them to stay active in a fun and exciting way. It also helps children develop important social and emotional skills without even realising it,” she adds.

Dance institutes see rise in enrollments

Several dance institutes across the country have been offering free dance classes online for a month. Lourd Vijay’s Dance Studio (LVDS) was one of the first in Bangalore to offer free dance classes for children after the nationwide lockdown was announced. Lourd Vijay, founder of the academy says there has been a tremendous rise in the number of enrollments during the lockdown. “Initially, there was a drastic rise in the enrollments but there has been a slight dip now as students are busy with school work and projects online. For the online classes, we had to start from scratch. We had to make some fundamental changes in the module as the partner moves in dance like salsa had to be changed to solo moves for participants who do not have a partner living under the same roof with them. So in dance forms like bachata and jive, we are not focussing on foot works and other individual elements,” he says adding that lockdown has been a good opportunity for him to introduce Latin dance forms to the children. “There have been several scientific studies conducted by the Stanford University and other institutes which state that dance has therapeutic effects and healing power. It promotes holistic growth and development by engaging all our physical and mental faculties. It also helps cope with stress during this uncertain time. It is also proven that the more spins you do in the dance, the more it helps to fight vertigo,” he says adding that he also holds private lessons for families. “It is fun to teach and watch parents and kids dance together and having a great time. It inspires me to teach more,” he says.

Akhila Damodaran

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