Help, I studied Dance…

I’ve been ill this week and as a result, due to the lack of photos on my camera roll, I thought I’d replace my ‘My Week In Photos’ with a subject really close to my heart that has been getting lots of attention on my social media timelines this week due to a government petition that has been started.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119876

It’s about the government’s intentions to axe Dance, Drama and Performing arts from the school curriculum as they are supposed ‘soft subjects’.

All of the STEM (Science Technology English and Maths) snobbery that is going around lately seems to be coming to a head and arts subjects look like they are really going to suffer a blow thanks to the likes of MP’s such as Nicky Morgan downgrading the importance of arts subjects, to the extent of saying that if you choose to study one of these ‘soft’ or’ less important subjects it could hold you back in terms of career prospects forever.

Are career prospects really at the forefront of a teenager’s decision process when choosing GCSE’s? Of course, some of the decision-making should be led by what they would like to pursue for the future, but shouldn’t it be more about what subjects conjure enthusiasm, creativity and passion in pupils? When I took the decision to start my curriculum-based studies in dance, I didn’t think much further ahead than sitting my final exams. I saw dance as a creative outlet alongside the other 11 less creative GCSE subjects that I would be to study in those last 2 important years of school. My time in the dance studio gave me a break from equations (but not a break from hard work mind you) friends for life, happy memories in the classroom, it took me all the way to South Africa on an eye opening exchange trip to a Pretoria performing arts school and it took me to the Royal Albert Hall to perform with hundreds of other Dance students. None of these things currently exist on my CV, but they are memories and proud experiences that have all contributed to what I’ve done since and the paths I have chosen in life.

Following school I went to a sixth form college and out of the 4 A Levels I chose, 2 were arts subjects – Dance and Photography. On paper, according to the government, I would have already been on a path of being ‘held back’ by my passions and my lack of sciences and ‘harder’ subjects. After 2 years at college, as customary, I applied to UCAS and got a place on several BA Dance courses and in 2011 began studying Dance full time at the University of Chichester. Career goals scuppered, yes?

Seven years of studying Dance within the education system and 5 year’s since my last Science, Maths or Technology based subject later and I graduated into the big wide world. I knew I didn’t want to be a dancer, that wasn’t for me, and teaching full time wasn’t a commitment I was ready to make just yet. Surely those are the only two professions I was qualified in due to the nature of my chosen studies? Wrong! Thanks to the incredibly well rounded course Chichester provide, I’d discovered a passion for dance journalism, and dance movement psychotherapy, and dance film, and dance histories and many more things that I’d taken away from my time as a dance student other than practical knowledge of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Perhaps I wasn’t going to be as much of a failure as the government might like/think….

I am now an Account Manager at a marketing agency advertising arts events in London, a dance writer and teacher in my free time and I run this lovely blog. The company I work for is full of people that studied arts subjects, we have ex-actors, musicians and dancers that do the same job as me as well as those who have studied History, English and various language subjects considered to be more appropriate for the curriculum by the government. None of my colleagues seem to think those of us who studied these so called ‘soft’ subjects are less qualified and if anything all of our varied experiences combined make for a better working environment full of confident people with stories and tales from a range of background. I don’t use physics in my job, nor A Level maths or even GCSE level maths at that, but do I diminish those subjects in their importance?

Does studying dance mean you’re to be a dancer? Or drama an actor? I don’t think the thousands of people that enter higher education in those subjects every year think that every single one of them will ‘make it’. People enter into these courses and institutions following a passion and hoping that by pursuing what they love they will find what’s right for them whether it be within that field or not. If, when taking those first steps on my GCSE Dance course, I had been told at the age of 14 that I was going to sit at a desk in an office in London courtesy of my love of dance I wouldn’t have believed you. But the fact is I’ve found a profession I love through a route that people think conventionally means should end with a small portion of people on the stage in a spotlight, with the rest that fail to ‘make it’ apparently held back for life regretting their decisions. This couldn’t be further from the truth and I don’t know anybody who has studied an arts subject and would say they wholeheartedly regret their decision to do so.

Us art folk, arts graduates, art students and artists are in every museum, every theatre, every call centre, every retail environment and every office and we reached those places in our life by following what we love to do with unashamed passion and enthusiasm. Whether that’s where you feel we should have ended up is up to you, failure isn’t studying dance and not being a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet.

Studying the arts is loving what you do, making friends in a sweaty dance studio rather than a lonely lecture theatre, soaking up culture and creatively viewing the world around us and following what ever path feels best. Don’t shut the door to the world of arts to young people before its even open to them, young people deserve the opportunity to study what they like and let their passion carry them through life alongside the already high pressured requirements that face them in their GCSE and A Level years. A couple of hours in a dance studio a week could bring them irrevocable joy and a career they never expected.

See below some photos of me while I was a dance student looking miserable and regretting all of my choices and thinking about how awful my career prospects will probably be now:

Please sign the petition! https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119876

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20 thoughts on “Help, I studied Dance…

  1. I also studied dance at Chichester and after reading this blog, have just signed the petition. Your voice has just made the signature total go from 44,294 to 44,295. Lets hope this keeps on going!

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  2. Excellent post! I’m a dance graduate, that has gone on to manage businesses, set up my own business and from my hard work bought a portfolio of properties I rent out. I’m doing better than a lot of people I know that chose to study the favoured courses! I have the best group of friends, memories & experiences to cherish! If I hadn’t had a creative training opportunity, then I wouldn’t have stayed in education and wouldn’t be where I am today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a prime example of the qualities dance can give people and what you can acheive! And I agree, even though its a bit cringe ‘the friends you make at the barre are friends for life’ 🙂

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  3. Fantastic description of how arts subjects are just as valuable, fulfilling and of use to society as other subjects. As an Art History graduate I have often been perceived as having been a student of a Mickey Mouse degree but actually people have often been envious that I followed my heart and completely love my work in museums and galleries, never get bored, learn new things every day, meeting extraordinary and fascinating people and would have been crushed if I had been forced into an office job or anything to do with maths or the sciences. This is just another example of how the current Department for Education have absolutely no idea how to educate well-rounded individuals and meet the needs and potential of everyone – what kind of world do they think it would be if everyone followed the narrow curriculum they are advocating….arrggggg… So frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I’m so sick of people thinking a Dance degree is doing the macarena! The world needs people who are colourful and passionate and the arts creates these types of people!

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  4. I was a teacher (PE / English) for 40 years, never an employer, but I would still say, ‘Get those experiences onto your CV!’
    I always told my tutees – especially in Year 11 – ‘curriculum vitae’ means ‘life timetable of events’ – and the things you said are NOT on your CV are SO valuable in terms of seeing the experiences that have shaped you as a person – far more than GCSEs (though I don’t under-estimate their value too).
    Best of luck with your petition – I will be signing after I post this comment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Yes definitely, life experiences make for a much rounded individual not grades in certain subjects on a piece of paper. I didn’t start the petition, merely spreading the word of it but thank you for signing! 🙂

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  5. Couldn’t agree more. My daughter is a committed drama teacher, she has a first class honours degree in Theatre Acting, combines her love of performance (she still performs) with imparting this love to her students. Most of them won’t go on to be actors. It will take the skills she has taught them into their life after school and college. The government must NOT stop Arts subjects – I have already signed the petition and passed it on for further signatures. Let’s hope we can make the Government see sense – for once.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nettyj@hotmail.co.uk said;

    “As an Art History graduate I have often been perceived as having
    been a student of a Mickey Mouse degree”.

    How apt: perhaps one of the most famous products of the arts.

    And look at how massively successful Mickey Mouse has been!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great blog, articulate and honest. I did both a degree and MA in dance, I taught for many years and now as I am getting older I have begun to translate those creative skills into my own business making cakes and pastries. I cannot imagine life without a creative outlet and what a boring life it would be!! Dance not only gave me physical skills, fitness and a creative voice, it also gave me confidence, communication skills, social/people skills, organisational skills, resourcefulness, dedication, passion and a drive to work hard to get the best results. The list is endless……….wake up Parliment the world needs ‘The Arts’. Better still, if we used the arts to teach other subjects in schools, I bet our results would improve, now there’s something to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment 🙂 Wow that sounds like a wonderful business! I agree, subjects are about learning more than what is written on a test paper. Half of the subjects I learnt at school such as French taught me enough to get through my exams and nothing beyond that which is utterly useless, dance has provided me with confidence in myself that i will carry with me forever!

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  8. Fabulous, an ex dance student of mine posted this onto my FB…I have (hope you do not mind) shared it with the dance teachers facebook group.
    I have been teaching for 30 years and will continue to teach and love my subject. Creative approaches to our world are just as valid as technical….and we all need to continue to stress that without the creative approach many of the big names today would not exist….the risks and imaginative leaps happen when children are given the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Our beloved ****insert sarcastic tone*** government seem to forget that the Arts predate modern society. Who will perform Shakespeare’s plays for the English students? Who will entertain the masses at the Royal Variety Shows? Who will paint the next major works of Art? Our predecessors used dance & movement to tell the story of the hunt, to depict fights, to portray acts of heroism. Remove the Arts and you remove the very soul of society. My daughter is a Performing Arts graduate and after working professionally she teaches children from all walks of life. Children from deprived backgrounds, ones in exclusion schools with “behavioural problems”. The one thing they ALL respond to is music, dance & movement. Academia doesn’t matter when you can lose yourself in a beautiful melody. Algebra pales into insignificance when you follow a basic choreography. The Arts teach much more than the sum of it’s parts. Self discipline, motivation, team work, self reliance, dependability, time management, the list is almost endless. All life skills that are interchangeable.
    I pity those politicians who fail to appreciate the absolute necessity of dance, music, drama, art and creativity in the modern society.

    Like

    1. I totally agree with you! Dance and the arts in general are a great tool to reach those who don’t necessarily excel when sat in a classroom. To be on your feet, moving around and learning is a fantastic portal to creativity for some misunderstood children out there!

      Like

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