Unfortunately, I was away the day of the dance and gymnastics presentation! However, in that statement alone, I believe the importance and draw of dance and gymnastics is illustrated by the fact that I — someone who has not been interested in PE in the past — was disappointed to be missing this part of our class. Dance has many cross-curricular connections, as well as connections to culture and society. Of course, one of the most common cross curricular connections of dance is that of storytelling skills being demonstrated through dance and movement. However, one can incorporate the movement and rhythm skills of dance in every curricular area. During my short practicum, I taught a lesson using rhythmic movement patterns to practice and internalize Skip Counting in grade 1 and 2 Math. Children stomped, tapped, and clapped beats, as well as crossed the midline as they chanted their skip counting patterns. Dance can be used as a way to introduce cultural connections in the classroom using a cross-cultural art-movement form.
I also believe that dance aids in children’s social and emotional development. I have often observed young children letting go of many of their inhibitions when dancing or participating in more expressive forms of movement. Partner and group dances can increase cooperation within a class community, and the performative aspects of dance and gymnastics encourages a supportive audience as well as builds confidence for those performing.