Creating a more intentional playlist for dance classes.
Written by Founder of All About Dance and Dance Forever, Jessica Goldman
Welcome to Dance Diaries, a place where leaders from the All About Dance and Dance Forever staff, along with inspiring guest experts, are invited to share their insights and perspectives on all things dance.
In this edition, our founder, Jessica Goldman, shares details of her motivation to produce updated versions of familiar children’s songs for use in dance classes everywhere.
Music has always been the thread that connects my love of movement to my emotions and self-expression. As a dance instructor, I’ve seen on more than one occasion how the right song can change everything in a dance class. The right song can shift the mood, change the vibe, bring students out of their shells, make someone feel happier, more alive. Music can also be a powerful educational tool, especially when paired with movement, helping students learn how to memorize, pronounce, and understand words.
Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression. For children and adults, music helps strengthen memory skills. - Bright Horizons
Like most dance educators, I’ve always had a go-to playlist of songs that I grew up listening and dancing to or that I thought were standard for my classes. This playlist was made up of songs that served their purpose but, in my opinion, weren’t actually inspiring…or, in some cases, even appropriate if you really listened to the words. Much like nursery rhymes and songs, many of these ‘classic’ dance class songs were filled with racism and negative messaging pretty dark and even inappropriate. This was a problem, particularly in the already critical world of dance.
This realization was in direct conflict with everything I stand for and am driven by - I set out to create a positive dance experience for students of all ages that would build confidence, equip them to grow into self-assured humans, and inspire at every touchpoint. If music was to continue to be a critical part of my class experience, then it should also reflect the principles upon which All About Dance Forever was built upon.
So where was that music that aligned with my values? I found some here and there but nothing was the right fit…the songs I was finding were polarizing, political, religious, uninspired, overused, and just plain old boring. I played the songs I was finding with my own children to see what they gravitated toward and - spoiler alert - there weren’t many they seemed to enjoy. What they DID enjoy was having fun with mom, making up our own songs and creating lyrics that were fun, sometimes silly, but always filled with words that made them feel better about themselves. This was so fun to see but the real ‘a-ha’ moment for me came when I overheard my girls repeating some of these songs just outside of my earshot…they were remembering them! They were singing them! They were dancing to them all on their own!
It was at that moment I knew that I could be the change I wanted to see in the world…I could create music to reflect the values of All About Dance Forever, giving kiddos a healthier, more inspired soundtrack that would resonate with parents. So I set out on a mission to write and produce a few songs that I would be proud to play in my classroom and guess what? I did it! It was a labor of love but they are now complete and I truly am SO proud. Now available ON SPOTIFY and APPLE MUSIC, and I am excited to share them with you and the world. I hope they are a catalyst for helping to influence an even more positive, affirming dance community.
Take a listen and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you.