This is an article I wrote for ABC Magazine. It's all about the benfeits of performing arts to young peope, and why I believe a collaborative approach best creates powerful futures for the next generation.
WHAT IS PERFORMING ARTS?
The Performing Arts are predominantly considered to be singing, dancing and acting. Combined, or defined, these principal performance areas form further disciplines – such as musical theatre, physical theatre, circus arts, magic, stand-up comedy, theatre musicianship - each with many different specialised styles and genres within them.
The range of performance styles and training available is huge, but the fundamental value in them remains the same.
EVERY CHILD HAS SOMETHING TO GAIN
Someone once said to me; ‘Science makes great scientists, athletics makes great athletes, drama makes great human beings’.
I do believe academia is important, as are sports, but so is social and emotional development. The skills acquired through performing arts training are carried beyond the subject, and into life.
Performance, within any style or genre, is about expression, exploration and communication. The skills developed through performance training are valuable in real-life situations; who doesn’t need confidence and self-esteem? Who could do without empathy or an understanding of social challenges, such as bullying, racism, heartbreak – and how to overcome them? Who won’t ever need to problem-solve, or work as part of a team?
WHAT SKILLS WOULD MY CHILD ACQUIRE?
In a performing arts class that recognises the values training has beyond performing itself, and where its workshops allow for individual, personal development within the group work, the potential skills acquirable are numerous.
Socially performing arts training builds self-esteem, confidence in social interaction, self-expression, self-awareness, the ability to role-play situations, imagination, empathy – these are all valuable in successfully being part of a community, reaching potential and maintaining healthy, happy relationships.
Vocationally students learn vocal projection and tone, language, clarity of speech, articulation, energy, focus, team work, discipline, an understanding of how their body works and how to respect it, and the power and impact of body language – these are all valuable in effectively communicating within any work environment (including school), and in staying fit and active.
The best way to build these skills is together. Performing arts students should experience a variety of high quality, inspiring workshops taught by passionate and professional performers.
In addition, rather than purely be fed a prescribed script, routine or track, students should have the opportunity to collaborate with each other and their teachers; inspiring creativity, provoking thought, encouraging ideas, solutions and imagination.
Fantastic performers need to be nurtured in the rehearsal room and beyond. It’s important that they’re not just taught a final piece, but that also imparted to them are the foundation elements and the many ways that they can be put together – thus, empowering young performers to dance their own steps, write their own stories, sing their own songs – on and off the stage!
The result of this interactive, collaborate environment is the exciting and rewarding shared ownership of unique, engaging showcases.
WHEN IT WORKS
Performing arts training is not just for those wanting to make a career out of it; vocal and performance techniques are frequently being taught in the world of business to help deliver effective presentations and footballers have been known to take ballet lessons to improve body control, balance and timing.
Performing arts training can help children who have previously been struggling at school, too shy to instigate conversation or make decisions independently, to develop the confidence to lead the group, stand at the front of the class or support newer students. It is always hugely rewarding seeing the personal growth in a student and hearing the difference even one term has made in multiple areas of their life.
Of course, there are students who train with the hope of forging a career as a professional performer and they continue to hone their performance skills and expand their potential - and that is greatly rewarding also, but it’s always complimented by witnessing their growth as people too.
Where young people are creatively empowered, they create powerful futures.