Dance nurtures young people’s creativity - Hurstpierpoint College

Dance nurtures young people’s creativity

Nicola Dominy, Head of Dance at Hurst College, explains how dance helps to promote physical wellbeing and provide insight into the wider world

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music,” Frederick Nietzsche

In modern Western culture it is perhaps true that for the majority of people the art of dance does not necessarily form a fundamental part of their daily experience. For those who are more estranged from this most ancient of human practices it is easy to believe how the role and importance of dance in our society is often regarded as irrelevant, elitist or frivolous. However, in the words of the late Sir Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government: “dance is not some esoteric, purely professional activity, it is deep in the heart of human culture. Dance is a feature of every culture everywhere throughout history; it covers multiple genres, multiple styles, it’s constantly evolving, it’s constantly digging deep into its roots and traditions, it’s professional, it’s recreational, it’s sacred, it covers every form of social purpose,” (Robinson, The Cohan Lecture, 2016). To dismiss the importance of dance therefore is to dismiss what it means to be human.

Dance – Compulsory in Year 9

Understanding its value in nurturing young people’s creativity, promoting mental and physical wellbeing and providing insight into the wider world, Hurst College offers dance as a compulsory subject in Year 9. Both boys and girls, regardless of previous experience, participate in one lesson per fortnight throughout the academic year with the option of furthering their experience by undertaking GCSE or A-level, the former of which has a majority cohort of boys. Initially, some Year 9s arrive already familiar with the studio environment whilst others may never have danced before. Some already possess a love and passion for dance whilst others may harbour prejudices and anxieties about feeling vulnerable and exposed. By the end of the year however, regardless of whether or not a student ever sets foot in the studio again, it is hoped that stereotypes are dispelled, self-confidence is developed and a life-long appreciation is cultivated for an art form that is at the very pulse of humanity.

Valuable Skills from Dance

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, creativity in the workplace will be one of the most important and in-demand skills in the future, along with complex problem-solving and critical thinking. “With artificial intelligence taking over routine tasks, there will be immense opportunities for people who combine creative, technical and social skills – skills that are resilient to future automation,” (Bakhshi & Yang, 2018). It is surprising then that the current educational climate sees creative subjects being increasingly squeezed out of schools’ curriculum, and even more surprising when considering that an independent Bazalgette review predicts that “the creative industries could be worth £128.4 billion to the UK economy by 2025 and help to create up to a million jobs by 2030,” (Smith, 2018). Therefore, it does not require a massive leap to acknowledge how studying a subject like dance, with its emphasis on lateral thinking, can play a fundamental and advantageous role in a young person’s education, regardless of whether or not they wish to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Many students at Hurst who have studied dance at either GCSE or A-level have successfully accessed higher education institutions in a number of fields such as medicine, American studies, events management and sports science, as well as the more obviously related courses in the performing arts, proving that there is no hindrance to accessing reputable universities along with reputable conservatoires.

In spite of all these benefits however, to value dance solely for the potential economic contribution or as a conduit for other skills is to render this most diverse and insightful art form a great disservice. If anyone was ever in any doubt as to the inherent value of arts and culture in society, imagine living in a world without it. “Take the collective memory from our museums; remove the bands from our schools and choirs from our communities; lose the empathetic plays and dance from our theatres or the books from our libraries; expunge our festivals, literature and painting, and you’re left with a society bereft of a national conversation.…about its identity or anything else,” (Bazalgette, 2014).

K Robinson, Cohan Lecture, The Place, London, 2016
H & Yang Bakhashi, Creativity and the future of work, Nesta & Creative Industries Federation, 2018
P Bazalgette, We have to recognise the huge value of arts and culture to society, The
Guardian, 2014
J Smith, Overview of the Creative Arts Sector in the UK, Prospects, 2018


Please follow the links below for further information about Hurst College, an independent, co-educational, day and flexi/weekly boarding school for pupils aged 4–18, located just to the north of the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.

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