How To Clean Practically Anything Dance-Related

“How do I clean my ____?”

How to Clean Practically AnythingDance-RelatedIt’s no secret that dance isn’t always glamorous but your dance stuff doesn’t need to be the dead giveaway. Because dance gear doesn’t always come with instructions for proper care, we’ve gathered tips and advice on cleaning practically everything dance-related. Now you can leave the “Dirty Dancing” to Patrick and Jennifer with these tips for making shoes, dancewear, costumes, floors, and more look good as new.


Cleaning Dance Shoes

We’ve already covered basic dance shoe care, including storage and repair but if your shoes could use some sprucing up, here are some detailed cleaning tips:

Leather Ballet Slippers

Leather ballet slippers can easily be spot cleaned. Sometimes just a soft, damp cloth will do.

For a deeper cleaning, use a mild detergent or dish soap. There are two ways to do this: 1) rub a drop of detergent onto the soiled shoe and then wipe it clean with a soft, dry cloth or toothbrush or 2) add a few drops of detergent into a cup of water and mix until sudsy, then apply to shoe with a soft cloth.

Leather cleaner can also be used but be sure to apply a conditioner to keep the leather supple. Other commonly-used methods include using melamine foam (more popularly known as a Mr. Clean eraser), or Windex (sprayed onto a paper towel or cloth, not directly on the shoes) to clean your leather slippers.

Leather ballet slippers should NOT be cleaned in the washing machine. If your shoes are beyond spot cleaning, you can hand-wash them with a bit of mild detergent. It’s a good idea to wear the slippers while damp to allow them to mold to your foot.

Where you should NOT wear your slippers if you want to keep them clean. "ballet shoes" by Allie Holzman is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

You should NOT wear your slippers here if you want to keep them clean. 

“ballet shoes” by Allie Holzman is licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

Keep in mind that water can make leather brittle so any method involving water should be used as little as possible clean your ballet slippers.


Canvas Ballet Slippers

Canvas ballet slippers can be cleaned in the washing machine. It’s best to wash them as you might other delicates: put them in a small lingerie bag and wash on cold, delicate cycle with a mild detergent. Don’t use fabric softener or bleach products.

DO NOT tumble your canvas ballet shoes in the dryer. Reshape them and lay them out on a towel to dry.

Washing canvas ballet slippers with this method may remove most dirt and grime but does not always restore the lovely pink or blush color of your shoes. For performance, many dancers dab either a matching foundation makeup or calamine lotion (which has a pink color) onto canvas slippers with a soft cloth, makeup sponge, or cotton ball to make them look like new on stage.


Pointe Shoes

What do the Wicked Witch of the West and pointe shoes have in common? Both can be destroyed by water. What a world, indeed!

Because of this fact and the generally short lifespan of a pointe shoe, most dancers just conceal dirty spots with foundation or calamine lotion before a performance. Students who do not go through shoes as quickly, may prefer to keep their pointe shoes clean and shiny by using pointe shoe covers during class.

All cleaning methods will dull the shine of pointe shoes but if that’s not a concern for you, there are a couple of ways to clean the satin. You may use dish detergent mixed into a small amount of water to spot clean a pointe shoe. Just be very careful not to saturate the shoe or you will risk breaking down the glue needed to help support the foot en pointe.

Another recommended cleaner is baking soda. Mix it with a bit of water until it forms a thick paste. Apply a small amount of the paste to spots and stains with a soft cloth or toothbrush and gently rub into the fabric with a circular motion. Allow the paste to dry overnight and wipe away the now chalky paste with a warm, damp (not wet) towel or washcloth – use a clean part of the towel for each spot to get all the chalky substance off the shoe. This will fade if not remove any marks on the pointe shoe but it will also dull the shine.


They'll never look this good again."new pair of pointes" by mararie is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

They’ll never look this good again.
“new pair of pointes” by mararie is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0


Tap/Jazz Shoe Scuff Marks

Surface grime and unsightly scuff marks can sometimes be removed from leather tap or jazz shoes by using baby wipes but most people swear by melamine foam for getting rid of marks from tap shoes and jazz shoes of any color. For stubborn scuffs, some apply pure acetone (nail polish remover) with a soft cloth, cotton ball, or Q-tip. Be sure not to rub too hard when using these methods as it’s possible to rub color from the shoe.

After cleaning the scuff, restore the shoe’s shine with a bit of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or a matching shoe polish.

As with leather ballet slippers, matching foundation can be applied to tan leather tap or jazz shoes to temporarily improve their look for performance.

Because cleaning jazz shoes in the washing machine isn’t an option, shoes can get pretty stinky over time. You can find some odor-eliminating options at (Remember, use the sprays recommended via the link only on the inside of the shoe. Also, leaving shoes in the sun to dry can damage the color – try using a blow dryer on cool to dry instead.)


Cleaning Dancewear

Yes, almost all dancewear for class like leotards and tights can be thrown in the wash. These items will last much longer if they are washed in cold water and a mild detergent without bleach (don’t use fabric softener) on the hand-wash or delicate cycle. Putting them in a lingerie bag provides further protection from snags and from getting stretched out of shape.

I know for time’s sake, some dancers tumble dry their leotards on low heat. If you want your dancewear to last, though, it is best to lay it out to dry because heat gradually ruins the elasticity of stretch fabrics.


Greying Tights

If you or your kids have been dancing for a while, you know how quickly pink tights start to look grungy and grey, especially around the heels and toes. According to one blogging dance mom, the absolute best way to wash dirty tights is with a bar of Dove soap. Scrub the soap directly into the stains – really lather them up. Then, rinse them thoroughly with cool water and hang to dry. Apparently, this method is no match even for red lipstick!

"Tutu Repairman" by Billie Grace Ward is licensed CC BY 4.0

“Tutu Repairman” by Billie Grace Ward is licensed CC BY 4.0


Cleaning Costumes

Costumes made from durable fabrics like cotton/polyester blends, polyester, nylon, etc. can usually withstand machine washing and low-heat tumble drying unless they are trimmed or embellished with sequins or stones. If they are, handwash them.

Handwash anything made from delicate fabrics like lycra, spandex, tulle, cotton, linen, or knits. Hang-dry delicates or lay them flat if they contain stretch fabrics. Make any need repairs to costumes prior to washing them so there is no further damage.

Use a reputable dry cleaner for anything made of fabrics like wool, leather, chiffon, velvet, rayon, or satin. Keep in mind, however, it’s not recommended that you dry-clean costumes with stone or sequins embellishments. In fact, it’s best to spot-clean whenever you can as fabrics are damaged over time by harsh dry-cleaning chemicals.

Some costumes with heavy embroidery should never be washed. Dancers should wear leotards, tights, or other undergarments if possible to reduce the amount of perspiration on the fabric. You can eliminate odor with sprays (make sure you test them on an inconspicuous spot first). The wardrobe departments of many dance companies will hand wash only the panty area of a ballet bodice and use fabric-refresher sprays on the armpits or anywhere the bodice touches the dancer’s skin. A 50/50 dilution of alcohol and water can kill bacteria and odor without damaging the garment.

Wrinkles aren’t really part of cleaning but they do come as a result of it sometimes. To iron wrinkled costumes, turn them inside out and use a cool setting with a towel between the iron and fabric. Steam anything that is too delicate for ironing like tutus. Many dancers rely on hot shower steam to get the wrinkles from their costumes.

Cleaning Marley Floors

Poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC), or marley flooring is often used in dance studios and for performance. Typically manufacturers supply very detailed instruction on the proper care and maintenance of these floors. If you want the floor to last, follow their instructions! The main points to remember for cleanliness and your dancers’ safety are as follows:

  • Keep street shoes off the dance floor — they bring in abrasive dirt and grime. Better still, have dancers wait to put on their shoes until they are in the studio to avoid bringing in debris from the lobby, dressing rooms, etc.
  • Dry mop or sweep the floor daily using a clean mop/broom. (Do not use anything that is oil-treated.)
  • Do not use household cleaners and avoid cleaners with acetone, alcohol, ammonia, or bleach.
  • Use a neutral pH cleaner only and, for very dirty floors, a degreaser.
  • Humidity makes the floor slippery. If this is a problem, use a dehumidifier overnight.
  • Deep clean your floor bi-monthly or quarterly (depending on your studio traffic). A commercial wet-vac or automatic scrubber is often recommended.


Scuff Marks

There are different kinds of scuff marks – rubber, metal, leather – when soles begin to disintegrate, they leave behind residue on your dance floor. Even dye from a shoe can leave a mark on your Marley floor that is tough to get rid of. The key to successfully removing all scuffs is to get to these marks as fast as possible. Therefore, your best defense may be a routine daily cleaning schedule so that problems are spotted right away.

There are products sold by dance floor manufacturers specifically for removing scuff marks from vinyl. Yes, they are expensive but keep some on hand for times when stubborn scuffs don’t come up with regular cleaning.

If tap dancers use your floor, have artificial chamois cloths handy to use on your dry mop (or swiffer). Lower-quality, aluminum compound taps break down and the shards stick to your Marley floor. The artificial chamois will help to clear this residue. A wet/dry shop vac may also be used.


Cleaning Mirrors

Glassless Mirrors

Many studios now use glassless mirrors because they are shatterfproof. To clean glassless mirror, first remove dust and debris from the surface of the mirror with dry compressed air. Finger marks or splashes can be wiped gently with window cleaner and a soft, non‐abrasive cloth (100% cotton or micro-fiber will do). Do not use paper towels and do not scrub the mirror surface in a circular motion.

"Mirror" by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed CC BY 2.0

“Mirror” by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed CC BY 2.0

Glass Mirrors

It’s no longer true that newspaper is the best way to clean glass mirrors because the inks used on newspaper have changed over the years. And, I’m sure you know paper towels are not the way to go unless you like all that lint left behind.

So what is the best method?

  • First, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad to spot-clean any sticky spots on the mirror like hairspray, or whatever was on your preschool students’ fingers before they came to class.
  • Next, mist vinegar and water or your favorite glass cleaner onto the surface of the mirror.
  • Then, use a folded flat weave microfiber cloth (it’s all about using the right tools) to wipe the mirror in a zig-zag pattern (sweep from left, down a little, go back from right, repeat) so that you don’t miss any of the mirror’s surface.
  • Use a dry part of the cloth and repeat this process on each section or panel of the mirror.


Mixed Materials

What about things made of a variety of materials? We recently received an email about how to clean spilled milkshake from a dance sneaker for example!

Our best advice for this kind of dance gear, whether you wear it, carry it, or stuff it in your dance bag, is to research the list of materials of which product is made. Online stores or the manufacturer’s website will often give a basic list in the description if you look carefully. In the case of the milkshake debacle, the sneakers are made of mesh, leather, and other materials, each of which needs to be cleaned in a slightly different way. Just throwing them in the wash and hoping for the best is a great way of ruining an expensive pair of shoes. In cases like this, Google is definitely your friend.


How about cleaning dances? 😉

Ha ha! We thought about adding that to this already long post but it really deserves its own feature.

As for the cleaning tips and advice we have included, we’ve done our best to compile information from experience and trusted sources but, as always, the information offered is for educational purposes only. This includes anything readers place in the comment section. We can’t be held responsible for any outcome of what you, the reader, decide to do with the information presented here.


What are YOUR best cleaning tips and tricks? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!


Balancing Dance and Your Busy Holiday Schedule


Balancing Dance and Your Busy Schedule

Upside Down Uptown Dance by Ed Schipul is licensed CC BY 2.0/modified with text

For dancers, this month means holiday performances and rehearsals, the start of dance team competition season, maybe even learning the beginning of recital dances. For students, it means finals; for parents, it means holiday preparations in addition to work and family. Combine any or all of this together, and that to-do list could easily make you feel more frazzled than festive.

Read on for some ideas to keep your holidays merry and bright, packed schedule and all.

Protect your precious time.

In a tech-laden world, unnecessary time-suckers are plentiful. Use that break in between rehearsals to study for finals or order gifts online without diversion. Apps like SelfControl give users the ability to block distracting websites (social media, I’m looking at you) for as long as the user wants. Websites such as also serve a similar purpose.


Keep a calendar.

Include rehearsals, performance dates and all other events for the month. If you have older dancers and children, it’s particularly important for everyone to communicate their schedules so everyone is on the same page. For the on-the-go family, a shared online calendar, like Google Calendar, can be great – everyone in your family can see changes made to the schedule or add their own events, right from their computer or smartphone. You will all be calmer if you know where to be when and where you can expect to have free time to plan other activities.


Block out time for a breather.

You’ll go crazy as quickly as you can say “Nutcracker Suite” if you don’t include downtime for yourself in that schedule. Knowing you have fun and relaxation in your future is a fantastic motivator, and giving yourself that time puts the season in perspective.


Be realistic.

Check your expectations. No need to become superman/woman for the month of December! If trying to squeeze in homemade cookie baking makes you feel more humbug than happy, just buy some at your local bakery (I promise, the kids at the studio will love them either way).


Ask for help.

Enlist the kids to put bows on gifts you’re wrapping; tag-team with your spouse or neighbor for studio pick up duties. The holidays are about being together; it becomes work when you feel like you’re doing everything alone.


Plan to care of yourself.

It is essential for dancers to care for their bodies properly, and this busy season is no exception. Preplan (again, this is where the calendar steps in) in case you need to pack some healthy snacks for an extra long rehearsal or an on-the-go dinner for your little dancer. As difficult as it can be, also prioritize sleep – for yourself as well as everyone in your family. There’s nothing like fatigue and hunger to send happiness straight up the chimney.

Overall, it’s all about balance. As a dance parent for fifteen years, my mom, Paula Semko, became an expert at it. She summed up her approach to the season nicely:

“I think the most important thing is to savor it and know this won’t last forever…don’t get overwhelmed by the stress. Live each moment knowing your child is happy doing something that they love.”

And if the dancer happens to be you, remember that you are doing something that you love – and that will make that busy schedule worth it all through the new year.

What tools and tricks do you use to keep your holidays more happy and less hectic?

A Parents’ Guide To Your First Dance Competition

If it’s your dancer’s first competition and you find yourself feeling nervous, you’re in good company.

You may not know what to expect at these events so going in prepared can be difficult. We have some tips and tricks that should help assist you with your exciting, upcoming weekend.

Dance Competition Prep


Talk to your dancer about packing and organizing his/her things. If she is older or independent, she may not ask for your help. The best way to make sure she isn’t forgetting something (while giving her space) is to have a physical dancer’s checklist. Ask your studio to provide you with one and check it off at dinner the evening before.

Make sure you have a spare pair of tights and a comfy outfit for awards.

Click here to download the dancer's competition checklist


Look up parking beforehand. While many venues will have dedicated parking lots, sometimes you’ll have to pay or resort to street parking. Bring a few extra dollars for meters on weeknights.

Eating at the Competition:

Many dance competition venues don’t allow outside food, which can be a pain if their only options are nachos and pizza. Luckily, there are things you can do:

Check the Schedule

If there is a long break between your dancer’s performance times, you may have time to run out and grab a healthy option. If not, try to coordinate with other moms or dads beforehand.

Pack Healthy Snacks in Your Dancer’s Bag

Eating a huge meal between dances might not be a good idea anyway as it can make your dancer sleepy. Instead, snack on fruit, veggies and bits of protein throughout the day.

Some Snack Ideas:

Sliced Apples + Peanut Butter
String Cheese or Yogurt
Cut Fruit
Granola Bars
Pretzels, GoldFish, Crackers

Here are some more healthy snack ideas.

Veggie muffins are a delicious, portable snack!

Try this Veggie Muffin recipe!

At the Competition Venue:


Find a good seat and camp out. Bring books, tablets or work to occupy yourself while your dancer warms up or relaxes with her team.


Get together with other parents and coordinate T-shirts or signs. This will encourage camaraderie between parents and show your dancers that you care.

Lastly, be proud of your dancer. While she might not say it, pressure to do well can be extreme.

No matter what place your dancer gets, tell them that you are proud and to keep working hard in class – the next competition will be easier.

Kelsey AndersonKelsey Anderson currently teaches, choreographs and runs Dance Teacher Connect: a publication dedicated to helping dance teachers share ideas.

More Just for You, Parents

4 Reasons to Meet Other Dance Moms

You are sitting in a convention room or outside an audition room surrounded by what seem to be the most talented children and polished parents that you have ever seen.

As a dance mom (or parent – dads, this could apply to you, too), all of a sudden you are overwhelmed with insecurities about yourself and your dancer, “Look at that girl, she has amazing extensions!” “Wow that hairstyle is gorgeous. How did that mom do that?” “Look at those feet (legs, splits, back handsprings)!” Before you know it, you are wondering why you came and worried that you have set your dancer up for failure.

I know these feelings all too well. I have experienced them many times. However, I have learned that out-of-town dance events are often full of parents who are ready to connect with others. Most are experiencing the same fears and emotions that I am and they are seeking camaraderie, advice, and friendship more than cutthroat competition.

A dance mom captures her performing child on an ipad

Why interact with and make friends with other dance moms?

To Expand Your Dance Family

It is true. The dance world is small. If you are actively attending events with your dancer, the chances are you will see the same people again and again. Inevitably, you will be standing in line with them at the summer intensive registration table or sharing a dressing room back stage at a competition. Most other dance parents are just like you, might as well make friends!

Meeting other dance moms has actually come out of necessity for me. We live in a small town and I frequently attend events alone. I learned early on that I might as well make events fun, comfortable, and enjoyable.

These friendships, formed beyond our dance studio walls, have come about in many different ways. Sometimes nervousness and worry have actually created bonds. I remember hovering with another dance mom at the back of a regional dance convention while our daughters auditioned for scholarships. The experience of biting our nails and cheering for each other’s kids made us buddies.

Connecting with other dance moms helps me to understand that I am not alone in my concerns, worries, and joys.

For instance, when I took my daughter to a summer intensive, I talked with several other small town moms who shared my concern about finding quality training.

Making dance friends has enhanced our lives. It’s fun to connect with them over a meal when we are in town for an audition or competition. In fact, we enjoy returning to certain events because we know we will see friends. By “friending” dance mom buddies on Facebook I can keep up with their kids and share my own news. As we have expanded our circle, we have also enjoyed seeing friends featured in magazines, winning awards, or being highlighted on websites. It’s now become commonplace to flip open Dance Spirit and say, “Look! It’s ____! Wow!” This makes us feel part of a “dance family” that extends beyond our little town and studio.

To Build a Dance Mom Network

I have to say that early in my career (in a non-dance field) I thought that “networking” was the shameless schmoozing that career-climbers did to kiss up to their higher-ups.

Networking is essential but it need not be fake, gossipy, or snooty.

Good networking is nothing more than connecting with others with whom you have a shared interest. It is authentic and natural.

Through my dance mom network I have learned all kinds of information that I would not have been privy to otherwise. For instance, when I wanted to know how a particular ballet intensive ran its auditions, I had a friend living in the city auditioning ahead of me who could tell me. (Yes, they do take pictures at the audition). When I wanted to know the format for one of the national dance competitions, I could talk to another friend. (Yes, the competition does include class auditions).

Networking is also about giving and readily volunteering information. When other dance moms ask me a question, I try to provide accurate information. If I don’t know the answer or feel that my information might be biased or incomplete, I am honest. Sometimes I will meet a dance mom and immediately think of another friend who lives in the same region of the country or who has a shared dance interest. It is rewarding to introduce people who could help each other.

There are some people who will advise parents to guard information closely in order to give their child every possible advantage. Although hoarding information might provide short-term benefits, it backfires in the long-term. By hoarding information, you will eventually shut off possible opportunities for information to come to you. But by sharing information and being helpful, you create a culture that will cycle back to you. I call it the “karma principle.” Naturally connecting with other interested moms, and nurturing those connections can increase your access to information and make you a much happier person, too.

To Get an Objective Opinion

I have a trusted dance mom buddy who lives in another state and I confer with her regularly about dance issues. She is smart, insightful, and she understands dance. I regularly call her to get advice about parenting a dancer because I agree with her wisdom, not only in dance matters, but also in parenting matters.

Usually I call her when I am in the middle of some imagined crisis — friendship friction at the studio, class decisions for the next year, or casting for a show. Because she is not in my area and does not have a history with the people involved, she is able to give me objective advice. She will often ask me questions that help me to frame the situation calmly and realistically. Because her daughter is not directly involved in the studio I can be honest with her knowing that I will not hurt her feelings or be misunderstood.

Often she is removed enough from the situation to give me some perspective. Once during a conversation I was venting about my 11-year old dancer’s desire to do her own stage makeup. “It takes forever and she won’t listen to me,” I complained. “Well,” she said, “that’s of course what you want her to do, learn how to do things on her own? Be independent? Right?” Gulp, yes.

I am also ready and willing to field calls from her. It’s been nice to have someone outside my own studio to talk with about dance. By being open to meeting people at dance events and ready to lend an ear I have made a great friend.

To Be a Role Model

Getting thrown into the regional, national, or international dance world can be overwhelming and intimidating for both dancers and dance moms. Rooms at auditions are filled with talented and driven students. Competitions routinely have students who blow you away with their talent. This is the reality of the dance world, and sometimes the stress of encountering many other talented dancers brings out the worst in parents. Without realizing it they create a toxic, distracting environment for their dancers by modeling patterns of interaction that are not positive or productive.

Showing your dancer how to meet friends, learn from them, and make connections is just as important as getting them good dance training. Success in the dance world, like any other professional community, is not just about dance. Work ethic, respecting others, communicating well, and networking are skills kids need for success in dance AND life.

I don’t know a dance mom alive who hasn’t had her own set of less-than-perfect moments. We are all just trying to figure it out and we are making many mistakes along the way. By paying attention to my better instincts and connecting with other dance moms I have modeled for my dancer how to do the very things that will make her successful and happy in life—make friends, network, get advice.

Connecting with Dance Moms Online

Online communities can be a great way to “meet” other dance moms. To join these sites you must register and create a username.

Ballet Talk for Dancers:

As the name describes, this site is for people interested in ballet training.  There are a host of forums addressing training, reviews of summer intensives, pointe shoes, and special groups (e.g. parents of boys). The site is well moderated by ballet teachers and the information is solid.  It does have specific rules about posting so be sure to read the guidelines before making your first post.

This community is open to any dance parent but it tends to focus more on competition dance in the jazz, tap, lyrical, and contemporary genres. The forums include, finding a studio, competitions, finances, college, and stage/screen.  This site is not heavily moderated but often informative.

SMART INTERNET USE:   Be careful posting names and pictures. Some members prefer to remain anonymous. Keep in mind that what you post is there permanently. So try not to post when you are emotional.  Accept that these sites have hundreds of members and not all of them will share your opinions or background. When you post, it’s like walking into a room of over 200 people and sharing your opinion.

Tell us about your positive dance mom/dad experience!

Heidi Anne Mesmer headshotHeidi Anne Mesmer, mother of an 11-year-old daughter, grew up dancing and participated in her college dance team.  A former K-12 educator, she has worked extensively with children, teachers, and schools.

Dance May Keep Kids From Eating Their Brains

Kids are creative. They like to move. You don’t need a scientist to tell you that.

So why do we need to teach our children to dance?

Let’s ask the Sea Squirt, shall we?

By Silke Baron (originally posted to Flickr as Sea Squirts) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The sea squirt eats its brain once it attaches to a rock. A testament that if you don’t need to move, the brain becomes a luxury.

Brains Evolved For Movement

Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert gave a profound TED talk titled “The Real Reason for Brains” in which he states,

“Not all species on our planet have brains, so if we want to know what the brain is for, let’s think about why we evolved one. Now you may reason that we have one to perceive the world or to think, and that’s completely wrong. If you think about this question for any length of time, it’s blindingly obvious why we have a brain. We have a brain for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements. There is no other reason to have a brain.”

We all know that dance contributes to a healthy body, but it also stands to reason that dancing maintains healthy brain function, as executing complex moments are a fundamental function of our brains.

You are not only exercising your body when you dance, but your brain as well.

Need more reasons? Here they are:

Because Children Move to Learn

This story told by Sir Ken Robinson about the famous choreographer/director, Gillian Lynee (Cats, Phantom of the Opera) who, as a child in the 1930’s, might have been diagnosed with ADHD today, illustrates what doors open for children when movement is not discouraged, but encouraged or even channeled.

Ken Robinson – Gillian Lynne – Igloo Animations

Watch this video on YouTube.

Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.” I said, “What happened?” She said, “She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think.” – Gillian Lynee

In a time of increasing ADHD diagnosis, what are the implications of declining dedication of the U.S. public school day to programs as basic as gym and recess? (I talk more about this in my extended article on the Uprise Academy blog.)

Kids are dancers to begin with. They explore the world with movement even before they learn to walk.

All children benefit from being given the chance to think and learn through movement.

Because We’re All Born Artists

Children are born with oceans of creativity, too, and frequently express themselves with movement.

You can’t learn to dance by sitting at a desk. You can’t learn dance from reading a book and there’s no test you can pass to become a better dancer. This sets dance education apart from other important subjects like science, math, and humanities.

You can only learn dance by doing. You observe your teacher and then try to imitate them. You progress through trial and error and the feedback you receive. You learn by making mistakes and slowly overcoming them over time.

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” – Picaso

Dance education preserves a child’s precious innate creativity and ability to learn things through trial and error, while the rest of the world is trying to suppress those characteristics.

Because It Teaches Us Self-Mastery

As a dance teacher, I mainly teach adults. Most of my dance students are in their 20s or 30s with zero to little dance experience. They are typically professionals with careers that require a high degree of intelligence, yet they are unable to tell their right foot from their left.

When you walk or breathe, your body just moves for you. When you dance, you actually have to learn to tell your body to do what you want it to. That’s when you realize how little control we actually have over our own bodies. They often don’t do what we want them to.

Through dance, we don’t just learn specific moves, we learn to master our own bodies and overcome our own limitations. It requires a tremendous amount of discipline, hard work and practice to become an expert dancer, and those are excellent virtues for children to learn.

Because Our Economy Needs It

While, unfortunately, lucrative careers specifically for dancers and choreographers are difficult to come by, the skills that one learns from dance have a lot of value in every field of work.

Dance teaches us to visualize ideas creatively and collaboratively and businesses today have to innovate to survive. Our economy was once an industrial economy, but now any kind of repetitive task based on numbers and rules is something we can write a program for. Jobs like these are automated and outsourced.

Right now, robots are being developed that can do knowledge or analysis-based work; pharmacists for example. Several hospitals around the world now have advanced robot assisted operating rooms. In another twenty years, the only jobs left are the ones that computers can’t do.

Let’s teach our kids to dance, so that when they grow up and enter into the workforce, they do so with a fully in-tact, highly valuable asset: their imaginations.

Dance educator, Todd ChenTodd Chen is a dance educator and entrepreneur from NYC. In 2008, he set about to disrupt the world of dance education by combining his passions for Design, Marketing, and Dance to create RiSE Dance Co. An innovative new dance school that integrates traditional studio classes with online videos and components of gamification. Find out more about their brand new kids’ program at