Wednesday 22 May, 2019

Tackle violence in schools with dance, says NCF officer

Dance Officer with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Alicia Payne/Hurley.

Dance Officer with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Alicia Payne/Hurley.

While policymakers, educators and law enforcement continue to search for possible solutions to the rise in violence in schools, Dance Officer with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Alicia Payne/Hurley believes the solution lies in the art of dance therapy. 

Payne/Hurley said the NCF recently concluded a pilot for an Expressive Dance Program which was done in collaboration with Supreme Counselling for Personal Development earlier this year. She explained the program uses a dance specialist to work with the students using dance, theatre and music as a tool for rehabilitation. She said the response to the pilot has been great, noting the arts can play a critical role in conflict resolution and helping youth-at-risk.  

“The arts is a wonderful way to not only just express but to rehabilitate. We had the boys at first who were like ‘we don’t want to dance’. But then they realized it’s cool and there are other genres - if they don’t want to do the ballet they can do the street dance.”

Payne/Hurley said she recognised students were longing for a safe space where they can express their fears and concerns without being judged. 

“There were some days when they turned up because it was a safe space to be and a place that they can express. So it allows the youth to express freely, they can talk about things in that space with their peers and express problems they go through without having to worry about who is looking in or looking down on them.”

She said, with adequate financial support, the Expressive Dance Program can be used in all schools across the island as a hands-on tool to tackle issues such as bullying, conflict resolution and emotional and sexual abuse. 

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