Why Dance? A Guide for Schools and Educational Facilities on the benefits of Dance Education

Why Dance? A Guide for Schools and Educational Facilities on the benefits of Dance Education

How Dance can Improve our Educational System

Research shows that students who participate in dance related activities have higher grades, better test scores, longer attention spans, and a greater success rate in school than students who do not partake in dance related activities. Dance students must use both sides of their brains to remember technique and combinations while applying artistry and creativity. Dancers also project confidence and self-esteem as well as discipline and motivation. All of these qualities are also needed to be successful in school.In a study by the National Assembly of State Art Agencies titled: “Critical Evidence: How the ARTS Benefit Student Achievement” it is reported how there is a positive connection between the arts and children’s improved learning abilities. Another study, “Champion of Change: The Impact of Arts on Learning,” writes about seven different studies conducted to determine whether participation in the arts could actually improve students’ ability to learn. They determined that the arts and dance influence students’ success in school.

Test Scores

In a comparison of students who took art related activities in schools 66.8% of 8th Grade students scored in the top 2 quartiles on standardized tests compared to only 42.7% of students who didn’t take art related activities. While in the
10th Grade 72.5% of art students scored in the top 2 quartiles of standardized composite tests compared to 45.0% of those with low or no art classes. (Page 3 of “Champions of Change”)

According to the Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education, students who study fine arts in schools have proven to score higher SAT scores than students who don’t have the opportunity of studying fine arts in school.


79.2% of 8th grade students who took art classes earned As and Bs in English. (Page 3 of “Champions of Change”)

Reading Readiness

“Dance has been employed to develop reading readiness in very young children.” (Page 11 of “Critical Evidence”)

Reading scores were 25.8% higher among 10th grade students who took art related classes as opposed to those who took few or no art classes. (Page 3 of “Champions of Change”)

A Reading Through Dance Program Study at DePaul University, determined that students who participated in the dance program improved their reading skills more than control students who did not participate in the program.

Cognitive Development

According to Neuroscientists from seven universities, learning to dance relates closely to physical practice and that training improves other cognitive skills.

Critical Thinking

Dancers in a group learn important skills such as the ability to plan, successfully expressing their thoughts and ideas, providing concise arguments and reasons for or against different concepts, and applying different strategies to complete tasks. (Page 25 of “Champions of Change”)

Creative Thinking

High school students who were dancers scored higher than non-dancers on creative thinking measures in an experimental research study. (Page 15 of “Critical Evidence”)

According to a study at the University of Northern Colorado, the Torrence Test of Creative Thinking was used to compare the creative thinking process of dancers compared to non dancers. Dancers showed a significant difference in originality and abstractness of thought compared to the non dancers.


Students who learn the arts in school have fewer problems expressing themselves, using their imaginations, taking academic risks, and demonstrating what they have learned than students who do not participate in arts programs.
(Page 38-39 “Champions of Change”)

According to the Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts, higher academic test scores, higher self-esteem, stronger social skills, and greater content knowledge can be attributed to students participating in groups in dance classes.

Drop Out Rates

Students who take art classes have a 1.4% chance of dropping out of school before the 10th grade.
(Page 3 “Champions of Change”)

Improving Teachers

The arts in school also help teachers. A University of Minnesota study noted three key changes in teachers when the arts were incorporated into the classroom: The teachers’ perception of students changed, they saw greater potential in their students and their learning abilities in areas such as intelligence, leadership and motivation. The teachers became more focused on becoming “facilitators of knowledge” rather than dispensers of knowledge. Teachers encouraged more revision and improvement from each student’s assignments. They felt more comfortable giving critiques and encouraged students to be comfortable in risk taking.

Do you have a personal story on how dance has improved students in your classroom or school?  Please share your story with us in the comments!

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