Ballet's not just for Billy

1st December 2006 at 00:00
From ballet to bhangra, dance can help inspire kids and improve levels of fitness, but how to get the right teaching?

"If it's the bloke who usually does a bit of footie or netball being forced to do an hour of dance on a wet Wednesday, of course kids will be bored,"

said Martin Harvey, principal dancer at the home of Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera House, London.

In moves which may irk some PE teachers, Mr Harvey is one of a group of experts who have joined forces to demand more resources and training for school dance lessons. It comes in the run-up to Lord Adonis's review of the subject due out in the new year.

Arlene Philips, a judge on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, said: "Dance is an education of the mind and body. It teaches you to express your feelings, to respect your partner and basic fitness."

Together with Tony Hall, executive director of the Royal Opera House, the group are demanding better-trained dance teachers, proper equipment including sprung floors and barres, and a wider range of dance styles from ballet to Punjabi bhangra. The group also wants a minimum of two hours of dance a week.

Mr Hall said: "In some schools dance is taught really well but some are not delivering it in the appropriate way. Nationally, it's a bit random and a bit mixed up."

A spokesman for the Association for Physical Education said: "We would support better access to dance, especially when we know girls are turned off by sport-only physical education."

Dance is a national curriculum subject. But 40 per cent of girls have dropped sport by the age of 18, research shows.

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