Getting Physically Active Through Dance
DANCE AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND and SPORT NEW ZEALAND
Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ), with support from Sport New Zealand has embarked on a programme aimed at boosting physical literacy, activity and movement among New Zealanders, with a focus on children and young people.
As the national service organisation for dance in Aotearoa, DANZ works to support growth and visibility of the dance sector through programmes and initiatives that encourage New Zealanders across all sectors of society to participate in and present dance. This connects strongly with Sport New Zealand’s goals as the national agency for sport and recreation, and directly complements their focus on promoting the lifelong benefits of engaging young people and adults in physical activity, movement and sport.
Sheryl Lowe, DANZ Executive Director says, ‘DANZ greatly appreciates funding support from Sport New Zealand which will enable us to deliver a programme of activities to increase physical activity among young people in the wider community. This programme will add to the current explosion of dance in our society, further increasing visibility and wider community access to the art form of dance’.
Initiatives for 2019 include:
- The expansion of New Zealand Dance Week (NZDW) to a greater number of regions. This is a dedicated week focused on celebrating dance throughout New Zealand to be held from 27 April to 5 May 2019. New elements will include a programme of “Dance Taster” workshops and dance showcases throughout the country, and a day of dance and launch event in Palmerston North.
- A programme of dance workshops by experienced dance practitioners Tanemahuta Gray (Kōrari Movement & Basic Te Reo Māori); Sumara Fraser (Inclusive Dance), and Primary school teachers Krista Huber (How Dance Can Engage Children in Literacy) and Annette McRae (Connecting to the Environment through Dance). The workshops were included in the inaugural New Zealand Primary Schools Teachers Conference held in Wellington on 15-16 April 2019, which was attended by 300 plus teachers from all over New Zealand as well as Australia and the Chatham Islands. The programme supported and upskilled professional development of Primary and Intermediate teachers to equip them to incorporate dance and movement in their classrooms.
- Publication of material focused on ‘Dance and Education’ including articles and resources highlighting the value of dance in education to create connected communities with active, happy and healthy young people.
‘These initiatives, with an emphasis on youth participation, flows from consistent research findings that confirm the critical role of childhood experiences in the development of skills, attitudes and confidence required for lifetime participation in active pursuits that promote health and well-being. It also has a focus of contributing outcomes of long-term cultural, economic and social value that are consistent with the “intergenerational well-being” approach to national growth adopted by Government,’ says Lowe.
The ‘value’ of sport outlined in Sport New Zealand’s Community Sport Strategy applies equally to dance:
‘Dancing can help improve posture and balance, and can build stronger muscles and bones.’
‘Dance can improve cognitive function and academic achievement.’
‘Being physically active through dance contributes to healthier and more productive lives.’
Fran McEwen, Sport New Zealand Young People Strategy Lead says, ‘Sport New Zealand is excited to be working alongside DANZ. Together we are part of a system that is supporting our children and young people to develop a love of movement, and being active, so that throughout their lives they choose to be involved and can reap the well-being benefits of that choice.’
‘There is strength in working with other industry organisations to achieve shared outcomes and DANZ will continue to look for opportunities to strategically work with others to build the resilience and dynamism of the dance sector in Aotearoa,’ says Lowe.