The arts are often overlooked in our society and many people who aren’t directly involved in the arts may doubt its ability to create positive change for the world. I, however, have been dancing since I was three years old and can say with confidence that the experience has made me a better person. It has provided me with skills such as confidence, dedication, creativity, and teamwork. It is also a means to express emotions and build strong communities. And most importantly it just makes you feel happy! But there are many people out there that could benefit even more than I can from making dance a part of their lives.
There are many dance organizations around the world that work with disadvantaged youth from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and use dance as a means to direct them away from gang culture and crime. For example, Mayibuye is a grass roots organization that uses performing arts to facilitate educational opportunities for young people in Australia, South Africa, and Cambodia. In the U.S. there is the Dizzy Feet Foundation which funds and supports dance education programs and provides scholarships for children in low income areas. There are also many hip-hop dance groups in the U.S. which provide dance workshops and programs for children in urban areas. These opportunities keep kids out of the streets and provide opportunities to develop their creativity and express themselves in a healthy and positive way. Another added benefit is that it is a fun form of exercise, which can help decrease childhood obesity,
Another organization using dance to make positive change in the world is Restless Dance Theatre. Since 1991 they have been creating works, running workshops, and running tours with a mixture of disabled and non-disabled dancers. As artistic director Philip Channells explains it, “It gives people a sense of place in the community, a sense of self and possibility and more importantly gives people a voice, to make their own decisions in a really exciting, nurturing and changing environment.”
These are just a few examples of ways in which dance is already creating positive change in the world. Paul Ranson explains this in more detail in his article in Dance Informa Magazine entitled Can Dance Change the World? I think that if more people could incorporate dance or other art forms into their lives it could really make a big difference. Dance provides a healthy and creative outlet to express oneself and build strong personal values. It’s also a great way to bring people together and build teamwork skills. Current dance and arts organizations should incorporate more outreach opportunities for communities and individuals in need and spread the positive effects of the arts.