Inside a Dance Studio is a blog hosted by Pegasus Studios with the aim of celebrating, discussing and learning about how dance can help support and foster healthy and happy children, adolescents and adults. This blog is inspired by our experiences as teachers and owners of Pegasus Studios, a dance studio primarily dedicated to art and health in children, from the ages of 2-20, give or take a few years!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Young Child's Need For Movement

Jane Davis-Munro, co-founder and Artistic Director of Pegasus Studios, has been teaching children dance, music and art for over 34 years. Through her extensive and continued research and training in working with young children, Jane has learned the importance of movement for children. Jane has put together some of her research to give us a better understanding of why the young child needs movement.

Movement is life. The human body begins movement at conception and continues in some form until death. The young child uses movement to explore and experience their environment and therefore it is one of life’s primary tools for learning. To ask a child not to move is to ask them not to breathe.

New research in the development of function of the human brain is reinforcing the importance of encouraging movement activities for young children. The more movement the more efficiently the brain becomes at processing motor responses. Children’s brains exercise three major steps when formulating movements;

1. The brain selects an appropriate cue and then forms a mental picture of the desired outcome.

2. This information is integrated with past experiences so that they can form a strategy.

3. The brain forms a pathway that gives feedback about the appropriateness of the mental image and the selected plan.

Once the plan is in place an opportunity to practice the skill is necessary to increase their efficiency. This is not as time consuming and complicated as it sounds, but when children are given the freedom to move, the brain becomes efficient in procession these steps. For example, when a child masters how to move in a specific space allocation, he has also learned about concepts of space, shape and abstract thought.

Early childhood is not a time to be limiting movement experiences but involving children in opportunities to develop creativity and expression through movement and music.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How Can Dance Improve Grades?

In several studies it has been proven that children who participate in dance classes or dance related activities achieve higher grades. At Pegasus we have witnessed our students go on to earn many academic achievements at the secondary and post secondary level. Many of our students are on the honour role and have been through high school and into university. Why is this? The studies will explain that dance exercises both the right and left side of the brain at the same time and helps students build the necessary brain muscles needed to be successful in Math, Science, English, and other subjects. At Pegasus we are not neuroscientists, but we are child educators and from our 24 years of observation we have seen that the discipline, creative and physical outlet as well as a positive and encouraging environment has helped our students reach success in their academic education. Dance classes allow students to get all their pent up energy out. The energy that gets stored up because they are sitting at a school desk all day is allowed to be expressed in the high energy level that a dance class requires. We have also noticed that because dance is a form of creative expression, students feel more at ease in their lives. They are not searching for a way to express their emotions and their creativity. The dance class allows students to use their emotions and creative nature in a positive and safe environment, a part of life that often gets pushed aside to make room for all that science! And speaking of a positive environment, at Pegasus we believe that every child, no matter their dance ability, is a valuable person and a valuable artist. We believe in encouraging every student that comes through our doors and by creating that type of environment we encourage our students to be the best that they can be, and we know they can be great! And the last factor that we’ve seen help improve our students grades… discipline. On top of a creative, emotive, and energy outlet, dance classes rely on discipline to operate. Dance in itself, like a sport, requires discipline in order to continue learning and expanding skills. Through dance our students have learned the importance and the basics of discipline and we’ve seen them transfer the disciplined practice they use for dance to their homework. And practice makes perfect!

We are so proud of our students, past and present and we believe that with high energy level, creativity, emotional expression, positive environment, and discipline, all children can achieve positive results in the school system and beyond.

Friday, March 5, 2010

2010 Dances of Offering

Saturday night, February 20, 2010, marked the 8th annual Dances of Offering, Pegasus Studios benefit show. We packed the Betty Oliphant Theatre on Jarvis St to almost full capacity! The Pegasus students shinned alongside the professional performers and it was very special to have former Pegasus students, Jessica Houghton and Catlin Chin choreograph pieces for the show. The dance was complimented by some musical pieces from Etobicoke School of the Arts and an original song by Jeff Wilston who performed with Dan Munro. Miles Faber, from So You Think You Can Dance Canada, hosted the night. But the best part… Liam himself was in the audience! Joined be his parents, Liam from the charity we were celebrating, Liam’s Light, watched the show from box seats. His mom, Deborah, talked to the audience at the start of the show to explain the charity that raises money and awareness for pediatric transplants at Sick Kids Hospital. Sitting in the box, Liam was a constant reminder throughout the 2 ½ hour show that we were all there, audience and performer alike, to help the children at Sick Kids. Thanks Liam!