We need a dance dance revolution
T he multipurpose rooms on the first floor are always covered by removable carpet. Little do most students know, the actual floor of those classrooms has, unlike any other, hardwood flooring—the ideal surface for dance classes. In fact, these rooms were originally built as dance and exercise rooms, fully furnished with mirrors and a ballet barre. But six years after the opening of the Upper School, dance remains one of the only performing arts we’re missing.
As a dancer, it is particularly disappointing to see the lack of a dance program. Now that we have expanded the visual arts to include unique electives like Printmaking and Advanced Studio Art, I hope we can expand our performing arts as well and give other artists the same kind of exposure and opportunity. The breadth of electives in each kind of art is vital and allows the students to truly explore what they love and supplement their existing passions.
I always walk past empty classrooms with their lights dimmed, waiting for a group of students to sit down and debate some heated topic. But these students instead sit in the multipurpose rooms, rendering it unusable for dance. Moreover, with the addition of the new building, that classroom availability is no longer an issue.
One of the most crucial parts of the upper school campus is the new West Wing, which helps to accommodate the recent growth of over 40 students, and is vital to the potential expansion of Nueva’s arts program. Yet despite these projects, the Upper School has yet to yield a dance class.
At the end of both my freshman and sophomore years, I was elated to see a dance elective added to the course catalog. I remember applying to Nueva as an eighth grader, and the lack of a dance program the only cause of my hesitation. I couldn’t wait to connect my extracurricular life with my in-school experience—I could finally share this beautiful art with more people.
A dance program could boost school spirit as well, becoming yet another way for students to build a team, or bring the community together through more performances and events.
I eagerly placed it at the top of my choice list, but to my disappointment, the class was never run. The school board mandates there to be at least 10 kids to run a course, but it’s important to run classes like dance, that could continue the expansion of the arts.
Moreover, the future plans for a theater building clearly show the community’s desire to expand the performing arts program. Adding dance classes would continue to expand the arts at Nueva, possibly attracting and cultivating a larger community of artists.
Additionally, dance could make sports games more interesting to more art-oriented students or parents. At many other schools, the dance team performs during the breaks of sports games. This also shows more support for the student athletes and increases attendance, leading to a more cohesive and encouraging community.
There is already a well-established community of musicians at the Upper School and running dance classes could open more opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. Groove Workshop, for example, could partner with the dancers in performances at an all-school meetings or during their lunchtime concerts; dancers could work in tandem with the musical theater class, offering choreographic support.
Dance also brings health benefits; it’s a great way to squeeze physical activity into a busy schedule, and is less painful than typical workouts. In dance, balance and coordination are the foundation for many moves. In many high schools, dance classes can fulfill both athletics and arts requirements, often encouraging non-dancing students to try a new elective.
people leave dance classes with endorphins circulating throughout their brain and thus, have an elevated mood. For some, dance is just a way to get moving whereas others find dance as an alternate way to communicate their feelings when words falter for them.
Furthermore, dance can promote and improve the flexibility of the athletes, key to injury prevention. The consistent stretching in a dancer’s routine is important for athletes to stay in the best shape. Dancing also targets many muscle groups that many sports don’t utilize. Exercising these oft-abandoned and rarely used muscles helps athletes become the healthiest they can be, improving their overall performance. I, personally, have danced for a long time, so when I picked up track and field last year, my background in dance helped me in agility and picking up specific running forms, as a huge part of dance is emulating the choreographer’s vision of precise moves.
Fellow dancer, Megan Fong ‘20, who has been dancing for 15 years, agrees, claiming that it has benefits that extend beyond those that are physical.
“Dancing is one of the best forms of expression—it also holds benefits for people’s mental health. In a way, dance is a form of holistic exercise: it allows people to exercise their creativity, memorization, and physical strength,” Fong said.
Creating a dance program should be a prioritized initiative—whether you are an audience member, artist, or athlete, it could improve the overall student life experience for you. As the arts program continues to grow, it needs to include and support dancers in the Upper School.
Written by Amanda W.