Philadelphia students learn interpersonal and life lessons through social dance

Hadas Kuznits
May 31, 2018 - 1:45 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Forty-eight high school students from nine schools across the School District of Philadelphia gathered for a final performance to show off what they learned in this year's inaugural Take the Lead Dance Project

Students who participated say learning to dance is like learning to communicate without using words.

"When you grab the other person's hand and spin them around, you feel like you have a whole sentence going on with the next following move!" said Jackie Fisher, executive director of Take the Lead.
 
"The goal is arts education, social and emotional learning through social dance," she said. "And we've asked students from each of the schools to volunteer to come and perform here together, so this is the first time that many of these students are meeting one another!"

But one particpant, a 10th grader named Felix, said he got so much more out of the program.

"Nowadays, nobody knows respect for each other; but when you dance social, you give that person so much respect, and you get it!" he said.

Felix said another benefit of the program was making new friends based on a shared love of dance. "Most of us weren't even friends, but we became best friends during this time since we'd go after school and dance with each other," he said. "And we'll go out to eat, and it'll just be amazing! We danced inside a McDonald's once, and it was awesome!"

"Ballroom dancing and social dancing truly does introduce a safe space and safe touching," Fisher said. "And most importantly, dancing is fun!"

Twelfth grader Ivelisse said, "Dancing is about expressing yourself. And when we learn these types of dance, we express ourselves to it!"