International Dance Day is on 29 April
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To identify the benefits of dance and explore some dances from around the world.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the following videos and the means to show them during the assembly:
- the theme tune for Strictly Come Dancing, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_YIfXw77yQ (0.49 minutes long)
- ‘World Dance Day Official Invite’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzvxVCOXnkg (1.27 minutes long)
- ‘African drumming and dance sequences’, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/zstw2hv (2.09 minutes long)
- ‘Diwali - a traditional stick dance’, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/zq83cdm (2.00 minutes long)
- ‘Samba - an introduction’, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/z2wg9j6 (4.26 minutes long)
- Optional: you may wish to arrange for some children who have dance lessons outside school to demonstrate some short dances. Try to get a variety, such as street dance, ballet, tap, jazz and Latin.
- Welcome the children to the assembly. Explain that you are going to play some music that may give them a clue as to the theme of today’s assembly.
Play the video of the theme tune for Strictly Come Dancing without displaying it.
- Ask the children whether they can identify the music and go on to confirm that it is the theme tune for Strictly Come Dancing. Explain that today’s assembly will be celebrating all things dance! This is because 29 April is International Dance Day, a day that was created by the United Nations to celebrate dance and to encourage participation and education in dance.
Optional: invite several children who have dance lessons to demonstrate some short dances.
- Ask the children why they think that dancing might be good for us.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Make the following points about the benefits of dancing.
- Dance uses and strengthens our emotions, thinking skills, physical abilities and ability to connect with people, all of which are vital for daily life.
- Dancing is a great way to raise our heart rate. It also makes our muscles work hard, which helps to maintain and improve strength.
- Dancing requires us to use lots of different parts of our body, from our head and neck right down to our toes.
- Dancing often requires our upper body to move in one direction while our lower body is doing something completely different. This change in pattern of movements keeps our minds and bodies active, strengthening our concentration, coordination, balance and agility.
- Research also suggests that dancing has a range of benefits for our mental health and well-being, making us feel happier and worry less.
- Point out that dance is full of variety: there are many different styles of dance worldwide. Explain that you are now going to show a brief video from International Dance Day 2019, which shows some of the ways in which people around the world got dancing last year.
Show the ‘World Dance Day Official Invite’ YouTube video.
- Remind the children that people all over the world enjoy dancing. Explain that you are going to show them some dances from around the world. The children might like to have a go at some of the movements!
Show the ‘African drumming and dance sequences’ video (2.09 minutes long), the ‘Diwali - a traditional stick dance’ video (2.00 minutes long) and the ‘Samba - an introduction’ video (4.26 minutes long).
Time for reflection
Now let’s sit quietly while we reflect upon the role of dance, not only for our own well-being, but also as a way of expressing our beliefs.
Dance and religion have been connected for a long time. There are some religious traditions where dance is regarded as something that gets in the way of a person connecting with God. For example, there are some forms of Islam where dancing is considered haram (forbidden), and in some Jewish and Christian communities, dancing between men and women in public is forbidden.
However, there are many other religious traditions that recognize dance as a form of expression and of prayer. In the Bible, Psalm 149 includes the verse, ‘Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.’ In this way, dance is understood to be one way in which people can praise God and express their love for him.
We thank you for the fun that we’ve had today.
Thank you that you have given us the gift of music, and the ability to express ourselves through dance.
We thank you for the ways in which humans around the world have been creative, finding ways to communicate through various dance forms.
We pray that we can find many ways to successfully express ourselves.
We thank you for the gift of dance as one of these ways.
‘World Dance Day Official Invite’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzvxVCOXnkg (1.27 minutes long)
The theme tune for Strictly Come Dancing, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_YIfXw77yQ (0.49 minutes long)