By: Susan Russo

Having made that statement, I am quite certain that my musician and artist friends are shaking their heads and saying to themselves, “No Susan, it’s singing, playing an instrument, painting, sculpting…”

I am however sticking to my beliefs, because I am from the culture of moving and have seen the many benefits, both physically and mentally, from “moving and shaking,” “cutting the rug,” and otherwise “putting on your boogie shoes.”

Especially for young children.

Especially for children with special needs!

Not only is dance a fun physical activity, but it also addresses the way a child moves their body, develops body awareness, and learns motor skills.

Dance activities also enhance cognitive learning. The strong link that exists between moving and learning make a useful device for teaching almost any subject. Movement prompts the development of new nerve cells and readies the nerve cells to begin firing, log in, and process new information. Moving increases our ability to pay attention, be alert, be motivated, and ready to learn.

And as we, as a nation, become more and more concerned over the childhood obesity rate in this country, dance addresses the issue of increasing a child’s physical activity in a creative and engaging way!

Dance also fosters social skills, interaction, and cooperation. These skills are valuable in the sedentary, solitary world that we live in today. Put down those cellphones people! Get up and move, look someone in the eye, shake hands, listen to each other, take turns, offer ideas…learn to be courteous and interested human beings.

So in the immortal words of Mr. James Brown:

Get up offa that thing

And dance till you feel better

Get up offa that thing

And shake till you feel better

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