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The Wonderful DanceFest 2018

May, 2018
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0j7a5118It’s widely believed that children discover the joy and health benefits that exercise can bring whilst they’re young. However, not every child enjoys the competitive world of sports. And that’s where DanceFest came into play at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) on 10 March.

DanceFest 2018 saw 6 international schools take part, with 120 dancers from ages 5 to 15. This year’s event concluded with a great show of student dances in a wide range of styles – from Bollywood to ballet, and contemporary to Zumba. The incredible talents of these young dancers amazed the fully packed audience, who gave them frequent rounds of applause. On top of the performance, students attending DanceFest also took part in a whole day of activities including workshops and technical rehearsals. Many WISS parents, teachers and students gave up their time to volunteer during the day. It’s a great example of a whole community coming together to create something special.

Vicki Hughes, a Primary PE teacher at WISS for three years, was the main organizer of this project. She studied dance in the UK and led a number of dance projects in England featuring a wide variety of different styles. Hughes is a strong believer that anyone can benefit from dance. In the past she has even led a dance project working with over-65 year-olds!

“Dance is a fantastic way to get kids excited about exercise and movement. There’s a huge appetite for dance in schools across Shanghai. Dance enthusiast Fiona Sherwood and I both thought our students would really enjoy an event that brought the Shanghai dance community together – and so last year the International School Dance Festival was created and this year DanceFest was born,” she said. “We’re passionate about helping kids of both genders and all ages discover how much more dance has to offer them. If you want to help your child build their confidence, their coordination and stamina – there’s no better way than dance!”

0j7a5611PE and Dance, in her eyes, are two sides of the same coin. Movement is a central part of what makes us human. Some kids are instinctively drawn to the competitive environment of athletics and sports, whilst others are drawn to the self-expression that is unique to dance. Many enjoy both.

“Regardless, both are a great way to teach coordination, body movement and spatial awareness. Whether through sport or dance, we’re giving children a foundation of skills that will help them throughout their life,” she said.

All WISS, students explore dance through their PE lessons. This is the case for all Grade levels, from Nursery right through to Grade 10. Of course, the PE lessons include many kinds of movement including parkour, gymnastics and even mime. WISS students also have the opportunity to join afternoon activities, which are led by teachers who have a great passion for dance.

“We’re very proud of the WISS Dance Company, which is comprised of 70 students from Grades 1-9 with performances held throughout the year,” added Hughes. “Our Senior Dance Company have performed at professional events including the Rolex Masters tennis tournament and at Hong Kong Disneyland.”

Besides, alongside 27 other international schools, WISS is a part of the Shanghai School Sports Association (SSSA) This provides a platform for students to gain experience in a competitive dance environment.

For the DanceFest 2019, Hughes says it will definitely be bigger and better than before.

“We want to hold it over a whole weekend this time, which will give us the opportunity to open it up to even more schools. If you want to get involved in next year’s DanceFest or would like further information please email: vhughes@wiss.cn.”

 

BY XING YANGJIAN, LittleStar Magazine 

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