The Namibian Ministry of Youth, Sport and National Service and the Northern Cape Province Education Department from the Republic of South Africa, as part of its twinning agreement articulated in the recent State of the Region Address, last week offered dancing classes to //Kharas youth in Keetmanshoop aimed at connecting art with the academic curriculum.
Dance instructor, Lizelle Julie, who is a district cultural officer at the education department, during theoretical sessions raised concern that art at an advanced level is in a way still only accessible for privileged learners in private schools, despite the fact that art and education are closely linked.
"Through dancing we want to move a child away from the stagnant academic environment to an artistic one as a breakaway, becoming more creative and relaxing both the body and brain," Julie argued. She further reasoned that an artistic child can improve their academic performance while an academic child can hardly excel in their artistic abilities.
"People have the tendency to regard art as a hobby or escape route from challenges they face, which is a wrong perception since art can, among others, allow one to express feelings (body language) and became more aware of their bodily functions," said Julie.
In addition, she said it was difficult to convince high authority decision-makers to include art as a subject equal to maths and science at both secondary and tertiary level.
"The emotional benefits of art at school level can allow students to be refocussed and re-energised, which at the end will allow them to excel to their best levels academically since it (art) can boost the body, mind and soul," the dancing instructor emphasized.
Julie articulated that art (dancing), in a common sense, stimulates brain functioning of the human body as it 'forces' the mind to memorise the sequence of steps and in addition the way the body should respond when exercising it.
As a message to the youth, she encouraged them to use their artistic talents (dancing, singing, ballet) to the maximum to promote their body, mind and spiritual health.
"Believe in yourself, ignore people criticising your physical (bodily) condition since we are all equally able to bring out our artistic inner self as a means of growing our inner self," Julie said.
Caption (Julie): Lizelle Julie (seated) taking participants through dancing moves during a week-long training session in Keetmanshoop. - Photo: Steven Klukowski