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Thursday, May 9, 1985
Why do some children "catch on" to developing a certain talent and others prefer to do something else? Anything else? What is it that fires the imagination of some children to dedicate themselves to learning some kind of artistic expression, like painting or singing or dancing, while other kids get along without any such longing?
Rosemerry Hanian, creator and instructor of the local Dance Players, thinks she may have stumbled upon the answer, and it has been embodied into a dance performance which her dancers will present on Friday, May 17, at her dance studio. The presentation is called "The Dreamkeeper," and it involves the process which touches every human being, that first exposure to artistic expression, and how that exposure is responded to. The key factor is making a "dream" come alive in their minds and hearts and keeping that "dream" alive during the years of study and practice necessary to learn a craft, whether it be painting, singing or dancing.
Mrs. Hanian came back to Covington, her home town, in 1968, starting up her "Dance Players" a year later, and each year bringing to young children an awareness of the beauty of dance, giving them a chance to dream their own dream. Each year, she also strives to bring in visiting dance experts, helping her students appreciate the scope of diversity of different types of dance.
Quite a few of her students have gone on to more intensive training; Nora Eddy is one good example, now studying modern dance in New York. Mrs. Hanian's field of expertise is East Indian dancing and some of that will be demonstrated this May 18 at an 8:00 p.m. performance at her Creative Dance Center.
The remarkable thing about learning to dance, and this is what really excites Rosemerry, is that the exercises necessary in learning to dance are also very valuable in developing a child's reading aptitude and learning readiness. Recent studies shown that the exercising of certain motor skills, such as jumping rope (important in dancing basics), also sharpens a child's ability to read by developing better hand eye coordination.
"I taught them the basic motor skills for rhythm and timing in the dance, not knowing it was also helping the rhythm of the eye in reading skills development," she said. "The dance exercises also help in increasing perception and skill in making judgements." She is working with a person at the Headstart center now putting together a program on how dancing relates to improved keeness of mind and communicating skills.
A standardized examination called the "Santa Clara Reading Test" measures the motor skills necessary to developing good reading aptitude, and these are the very motor skills Rosemerry has been teaching for years in her basic dancing instruction. It was a very pleasant surprise for her to find out that what she had been doing was also helping to ready her students for reading excellence.
As a result, Mrs. Hainan is now developing materials and preparing workshops to show how dancing and reading are interrelated. The age range involves three to five year olds, pre-schoolers, where hand-eye coordination becomes very important for learning throughout the rest of their lives.
At that age, kids are very receptive to learning, she said, and dancing helps them to tap their own creativity and stimulate their own imaginations, improve their balance, better their coordination, and learn to focus their attention for a longer period of time.
"All that is part of the learning readiness," she said. And that learning readiness may be why some children are eager to develop their own talents creatively and other children lack that spark, that dream, to express themselves artistically. The children then grow up to be adults, always longing for a dream, but never really ready to engineer one of their own. Perhaps dancing does provide a key to that mystery.