Why dance needs to be included in the school curriculum

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Tripura Kashyap, who conducted a webinar on Therapeutic Dance-in-Education, talks about the importance of movement and why children need to practise it more. 

Tripura Kashyap, a pioneer of dance movement therapy in India, recently conducted a webinar on Therapeutic Dance-in-Education organised by Soulsphere. Talking about the art of facilitating movement sessions for students in schools and special-need centres, she says, “I feel that children, no matter what kind of school or class they are in, they do not move enough. Though there are a few classes where they play sports or dance, the focus is always on performance. 

“There’s no teaching as such, they are just being trained for something they are supposed to present on stage,” she says, adding, “It should be introduced in the mainstream curriculum; it will help in personality development of children.”

Kashyap says that practising body coordination, eye contact, other social skills and self-awareness leads to personality development. Dance allows you to practise all. 

Kashyap has developed a movement activity basket consisting of different points like social skills, body image activities, group awareness activities, memory sequencing skills etc. Giving an example, she says, “When kids perform trust-building exercises on a physical level, they begin to trust each other at an emotional level. It is of utmost importance to not just speak about these concepts but let children experience it.”

These dance activities are customised for students of different age groups and diverse body types. “Individuals from different age groups have different problems and needs. Generally, with adolescents, there’s a problem with body image. Also, there’s a gender divide where the boys are separated from the girls. So, if there are social activities where the two genders get to mix, they can dilute the gender dividing notions,” she says, adding that there are activities that prevent kids from being bullies and getting bullied.

Movement is a universal language, and hence, it doesn’t matter what size, shape, age, or gender you belong to, the whole idea is to make it available to everyone, especially school children.

She tells that every child has a movement of their own, be it in the womb or when s/he is born. However, as we grow into an adult, the movements shrink in the body. Kashyap says, “Movement is what keeps us alive, yet, many of us are taking it away from children. Hence, the whole idea is to introduce therapeutic dance in schools.”

The therapy sessions also incorporate elements from Indian folk, classical, contemporary and social dance forms to foster innovative learning and well-being among students. Explaining the same, she says, “There are two ways: one, personal movement language. Every individual is born with a movement, and the idea is to tap that movement in children. On the other hand, you can also take elements of Indian dance forms like hand gestures, footwork, or eye and neck movement to culturally connect with your environment. In the same way, you allow a kid to paint whatever s/he wants with the colours you provide before you start teaching him/ her, let them experiment and have fun with it before you teach them a structured dance.”

When asked if a webinar is as impactful as a live session, she says, she doesn’t feel that webinars have limitations, but they are different. “The onus is on the participants; they need to be more creative. I can give them the ideas and demonstrate the movement for them,” she concludes.

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