“Dance for Every Child”
In Nel Shelby’s new documentary, “PS DANCE!” we learn that are nearly four hundred certified dance instructors in the public schools of New York City. What we see immediately is that 1200 of the 1800 schools do not have dance programs and they are needed there. The film was two years in the making and it contains interviews with some 16 kids and we see more than a hundred others enjoying the dance program. The dance program influences their daily learning and we see that dance can be part of the daily core curriculum from kindergarten through grade 12.
We hear from dance ambassador Jody Gottfried Arnhold and dance education consultant Joan Finkelstein and they back up the above statement. We meet master dance educators Catherine Gallant, Ana Nery Fragoso, Michael Kerr, Ani Udovicki and Patricia Dye and watch as they demonstrate and discuss how a rich dance education develops artistic, social, academic and life skills in their students from elementary through high school. Of the four hundred dance teachers now in the system, 192 of them are certified by the state. There is a movement to build a new budget that will give support to the schools in order to have arts programs. Dance is now considered as a high-need subject area, and as you watch this film you will see why.
The film wonderfully shows us what happens when children dance because it is part of their studies. We see imagination, curiosity, hard work and discipline. It is almost as if a veil of gloom is lifted when we watch these children and we immediately understand why there is a movement to try to provide dance for every child. We see collaboration and joy in the middle schools and wonderful cooperation among high school dance students. They even say that dancing keeps in school and not on the streets. We become aware of the transformative power of dance and we how it inspires and connects people as well as gets a breeding round for discipline and hard work. It also teaches what our students so badly need to learn— respect. As one who has been in the classroom for over fifty years, the one thing that teachers seem to have lost over time is the respect they are due.
Paula Zahn narrates this film as it looks at how the lives of students have been transformed and changed by dance. I have never taught in a school that has had dance in the curriculum but as I watched this I certainly could see how it helps.
“Parents, educators and researchers have observed that studying dance boosts self-confidence, self-esteem, sense of identity, and helps children to develop an understanding of how to navigate the world as adults”.