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The Therapeutic Impacts of Dance for Children

As a means of self-expression and emotional release that combines with tradition and storytelling, nearly every culture in the world embraces dance in some form or fashion. Not only does it have physical benefits worth celebrating, but it's good for the cognitive and emotional self as well.

In celebration of the value and artistry of dance, each April 29th marks International Dance Day. Founded by the International Theatre Institute in 1982, the annual event is hosted by a notable personality in the world of dance, and a celebratory gala takes place each year in a city of cultural relevance; both the location and host of the event are chosen yearly by the ITI Executive Council.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year's celebrations will be taking place via online broadcast, including dance performances and keynote speeches. Those interested in viewing the performance can do so on the IDD website during and after the event. Globally, International Theatre Institute Centres will be promoting education initiatives, volunteer efforts, and dance presentations to mark the celebration, the annual date of which coincides with the birthdate of the founder of modern ballet, Jean-Georges Noverre.

Children in particular can reap therapeutic benefits from dance and creative movement education, including:

  • A meta-analysis of controlled studies on dance activity in childhood and teen populations demonstrated that dance participation has the potential to improve anxiety and boost psycho-social wellness. [1]

  • One study assessing teen and young adult women participating in regular dance education revealed that 88% of respondents felt their dance study was helping them to express their feelings. [2]

  • An assessment of the impact of dance on social competence in preschoolers indicated that after eight weeks of creative movement and dance education, a group of participating preschoolers demonstrated significant social competence boosts compared to non-participants. [3]

To learn more about International Dance Day's online celebrations, visit the event's website or Facebook group for updates.

Written by Arthur G.

Arthur is a writer, researcher, and father with a keen interest in the science behind play. As chief editor for Muddy Smiles, he advocates for (loads) more unstructured play within education and at home.


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