Dance-in-Education is the art of facilitating movement sessions for students in schools and special needs centres. Educators offer ideas and images for students to use their natural movement patterns for creative self-expression. TDIE plays a pivotal role in opening up a space wherein teachers and students are collaborators for dance expressions to emerge. This is followed by or interspersed with verbal reflection on what was experienced and felt in the session.
TDIE goes beyond merely ‘learning’ or ‘memorizing’ of dance forms - It is an inclusive, non-judgemental discipline in which dance teaching is perceived through a ‘process-oriented’ lens as opposed to being a ‘performance’ product. Educators use creative movement experiences to engage with the physical, mental, emotional, creative and social facets of students leading to their enhanced holistic personality development. TDIE can become a cross-curricular activity that reinforces the learning of academic subjects – fundamentals of Mathematics, Science and Language can be taught through movement activities and games! Expressive dance activities are customised for students of different age groups and diverse body types. It is utilized within mainstream, special and inclusive educational settings across urban-rural divides, socio-cultural, religious and linguistic zones in India.
Educators begin by mapping a syllabus of TDIE based on the needs of the group and parameters of the school curriculum. They create a basket of more than hundred movement-based activities which address specific therapeutic objectives. The activities are facilitated to promote physical fitness, body coordination, self-awareness, social skills, trust building, stress release and emotional expression among several other attributes. Creative movement experiences are progressively graded from simple to complex levels and facilitated over 8-10 months. Elements from Indian folk, classical, social dance forms and contemporary dance are also used to foster innovative learning and well-being among students. Teachers learn to track the progress in their sessions by evaluating learners as well as undergoing self-evaluation themselves. They are trained to use assessment coding sheets with movement attributes and rating scales to measure therapeutic objectives being achieved in students. TDIE becomes a catalyst for students to befriend their bodies, get in touch with pent-up energies and release them. Movement activities eventually help students relate dance to their real lives and hence they learn to adapt better to the social settings they dwell in. Dance is no more just restricted to the ‘talented’ few, rather it becomes relevant for all! TDIE enables students to explore their thoughts and feelings freely in a safe and secure atmosphere, thereby boosting their communicative capability and self-confidence.