In the last MovementWorks blog I focused on my work with PMLD students.
Our language these days is full of acronyms, with which those working in particular fields are familiar and those outside of those areas often are not. Not only can this feel alienating; (PMLD, by the way, stands for Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) occasionally to make decoding more tricky, the same acronyms can mean different things to different people. In this newsletter I have chosen to highlight DCD as one such acronym, where both definitions are equally important to me, and unexpectedly interrelated.
As someone who has danced for the best part of my childhood and adult life, dance isn’t just something I do, but is part of who I am.
“People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.”Martha Graham, Blood Memory
When my daily dance experience was taken away from me due a health condition, not only did I feel lost but also quite unlike myself. I decided to refocus my enforced time out situation to further study, and the DCD was there to support me. The DCD: The Dancers Career Development Trust has existed for forty years to aid dancers through career transition. Despite the years of training required, together with the dedication it takes to be successful in dance, professional careers are relatively short. I am most grateful to the DCD for assisting me to fund my MSc. During this period I began to consider more objectively how my identity was tied up with my dance.
I discovered that, from an academic perspective, this was a seriously under researched area and therefore, despite the difficulties involved, I set about to research the area in order to write a paper. The resulting paper was cited in November last year in the first interdisciplinary dance psychology conference. I am very pleased to have been able to contribute to, what I hope will be, the beginning of a new body of research. My research paper on Identity recently published through the DCD’s (Dancer’s Career Development)website can now be accessed here.
So, given that at the start of this journey I never expected to redefine myself as a Dance Scientist at all, I couldn’t have predicted where my current research interests have taken me. As well as thoughts on identity, my time out experience highlighted to me just what an impact my daily dance class had on my general well-being and self-esteem. Still interested in the interface of body-mind, art-science my thesis went even deeper into the neuropsychophysical impact of dance, specifically with young children, and investigated how a scientifically and educationally researched dance-based developmental movement programme could affect attainment outcomes.Results from the pilot studies were significant, with an even greater effect size seen for children with additional needs.
Having delivered the programme now for over three years, in a variety of schools and challenging learning environments, I have found something else Martha Graham said to be very true:
“Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.” Martha Graham
Through my practice I have become increasingly fascinated with the learning profiles of children who present to me with what I term as movement processing difficulties. With some synchronicity at play, it is a condition clinically referred to by the same acronym DCD! DCD (or Developmental Coordination Disorder) is a term people might be more familiar with as Dyspraxia. It is now well documented that these children may have a variety of multi-level co-ordination difficulties, are often alienated socially and therefore often experience low self-esteem (Green, 2005) which from an educational perspective can often lead to undesirable behavioural issues. To make the situation even more complex, current research also supports that these children more often than not have overlapping conditions, each of which have their own acronyms and diagnostic parameters, such as ASD (Autistc Spectrum Disorder), ADD(Attention Deficit Disorder), and ADHD (Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder).
By now it is likely, if you have read the title, that you may be wondering “what an earth does all this has to do with Discos?”
The notion of identity and neuroscience perhaps doesn’t automatically link itself to a 70s popular music party…but science doesn’t always have to have a serious face! It is important not to underestimate the power of fun to engage a child. In fact, enjoyment is an essential factor and an anchor learning, particularly for a child who may have additional difficulties with focusing attention. As well as being fun, for any level of mastery to occur, dance requires immersion, combining both a deep mental and physical involvement. Optimally the two should happen together in the classroom and they can also be seen keeping company together on the stage and the dancefloor!
For this reason MovementWorks has both an Education and an Events strand: The Developmental Dance Movement Programme™and it’s fun loving little cousin Disco Dayz®.
About Disco Dayz®
Disco Dayz® is a 2-3 hour interactive event created and presented by Movementworks.Designed as a family event, it replaces aimless balloon popping, tired party games and unruly dance floors with promoting dance fun with purpose!
- champions a healthy active lifestyle;
- the fun aspects of dance as a recreational activity;
- musical enjoyment;
- family cohesiveness.
It is also a great platform to showcase the learning potential and power of movement to motivate and inspire positive change physically, mentally and socially.
Disco Dayz® is a great way to see MovementWorks in action and at the same time fundraise for your school. Basic and bespoke packages are available and can be considered separate to or in conjunction with the in-school Developmental Dance Movement Programme™.
This month MovementWorks will be presenting Disco Dayz®fundraisers in two Primary Schools.
Look out for the latest pictures in our Events Gallery coming soon.