Dance As An Agent Of Change


Dance is an arena of patterned behaviour, social structures and inter-instutional relationship that holds unique opportunities to study and understand the complexities of social life.

Dance is an activity that commands a degree of primary or secondary involvement unsurpassed by other institutionalised settings. Dance offers an opportunity for research on highly crystallised forms of social structures not found in other systems or situations (Luschen 1990:59). That is, field research in dance provides, for example, structured conflict and competitiveness in controlled settings rarely found in other aspects of social life.

Group dynamics, good attainment by social organisations, subcultures, behavioural processes social bonding, structured inequality, socialisation, and organisational network are just a few sociological impacts that can be benefitted in dance settings. This presupposes that the structure or forms of behaviours and interaction found in dance settings are similar to those found in other societal settings. In other words, dance like other institutions is a microcosm of society.

No other institution, except perhaps religion, commands the mystique, the nostalgia, the romantic ideational cultural fixation that dances does. No other activity so paradoxically combines the serious with the frivolous, playfulness with intensity, and the ideological with the structural.

To this, the South African Dance Foundation will serve as a true agent of change destined to utilise its institutional structure to study and understand the different cultures, thereby cohesing and moving South Africa forward.

Why Dance?

Dance has both intrinsic and instrumental values; that is, it has worth in and of itself and can be used to achieve a multitude of purposes (e.g., to communicate issues and ideas, to persuade, to entertain, to beautify and to trade). Beyond the intrinsic value of dance, each dance discipline appeals to different senses and expresses itself through different media, adding richness and engagement to the learning environment.

An education in dance helps learners to learn to identify, appreciate, and participate in the traditional art forms of their own communities. As learners imagine, create, and reflect, they are developing both the verbal and nonverbal abilities necessary for school success. At the same time, the intellectual demands of dance help learners develop problem-solving, critical, and creative thinking abilities.

Numerous studies point toward a consistent and positive correlation between a comprehensive education in the arts and learner achievement in other subjects and on standardized tests. A comprehensive, articulated arts education program engages and helps learners develop the self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperative skills, and self-motivation necessary for success in life.

Dance benefits both the learner and society, because learners of the dance disciplines gain powerful tools for:

• Understanding human cultural experiences, both past and present;• Teamwork and collaboration;
• Making decisions creatively and solving problems, when no prescribed answers exist;
• Adapting to and respecting others’ diverse ways of thinking, working, and expressing themselves;
• Understanding the influence of dance as an art-form and its power to create and reflect cultures;
• Analyzing nonverbal communication, and making informed judgments about products and issues; and,
• Communicating effectively.

In addition to the program bringing a valuable and uniquely youth friendly side, it also opens the doors to the grassroots community programs and schools. It is my hope that these schools will benefit from educational classes given by local agents, then turn to the Rumba in the Jungle Development Programme as a “positive alternative” to drugs and negative behaviours. Additionally, the program reaches all ethnic backgrounds and genders.

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