Why Dance is just as important as math?

Dance – and physical activity – should have the same value in education as math, science, and language.

I was recently chatting with a studio parent who felt that placing emphasis on math over dance was beneficial for their child. Of course, as a dance teacher my job is to advocate for dance, right? It made me think that dance is actually just as important as math.

Let me clear the air first. I’m not contesting the importance of math — it’s imperative to the creative human mind. It also is intimately involved with the dynamics of dance. Instead, I’m for educating the whole child. Dance should be of equal importance to other arts, languages, sciences, math, and humanities in the general education of every child.

Think of it this way.

We don’t teach math solely to create mathematicians, and we don’t teach writing solely to create the next generation of authors. The same holds true for the arts. We teach them to create well-rounded citizens who can apply the skills, knowledge, and experience from being involved in the arts to their lives.

If you look closely into any dance, you can see they are linked to mathematical concepts. Dance is made of rhythm, shapes, patterns, angles, symmetry, geometry, multiplication, subtraction, division, and addition. It goes without saying that math can be taught using dance. Teaching math through dance can help students to understand abstract concepts more happily.

Understanding patterns of beats and rhythmic changes in the music or the way the body moves and responds to the music can also help students in learning math. Math is also present in the posture and technique of certain dance styles.

For example, Bharatnatyam dancers sit in the “aramandi” position with their feet pointing outward at 45-degrees with their knees bent laterally forming an angle. Ballet dancers observe the angle of the body, legs, and arms in positions such as holding a leg in the air at a 90-degree angle. In Bollywood, we incorporate a variety of positions with technical precision.

Dancers phrase music in counts of 4, 8, 16 or 32.

More impressively, dancers calculate distance between other dancers and objects throughout their performances. They even adjust these distances in response to the different size or shape of the space they perform in. Having a strong sense of spatial awareness and the ability to manipulate space and time is all in the art of dance, which heightens a dancer’s math.

It’s no surprise that dancers are skilled at looking for patterns in choreography to help in remembering movement.

This is why in our BollyTappy (pre-school dance program), we encourage our students to look for patterns in their dance routines. We train them from the beginning using repetitive movement to help them remember their dances. You can try this out at home too!

Using dance to teach about math and math to enhance learning about dance can make for a positive and wholesome learning experience for students.