Numbers, stats and creativity are all integral parts of choreography — but they’re vital for coding, too. That’s the idea behind danceLogic, a program in Philadelphia that integrates dance and computer programming for 13 to 17-year-old girls.
DanceLogic is one of the programs that promotes learning coding with dance. It is a program of the West Park Cultural Center, a nonprofit founded by Betty Lindley in 2001 to provide affordable activities for kids over the summer and after school. The class teaches one hour of dancing followed by an hour of coding each week in an effort to promote S.T.E.M. learning, or, as Lindley refers to it, S.T.E.A.M. — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
“I just thought there had to be a way to bring what we were doing with the arts with the coding, how could we do that?” Lindley said. “He was having trouble getting youth to come to the [coding] classes. And coding is not something that especially girls think about doing, and girls of color in particular.”
She contacted Franklyn Athias who was teaching coding with dance in New York. He always wanted people who might be intimidated by the math and science behind coding to understand that it’s like any other skill. “It’s always hard in the beginning,” he said. “This is why the dance part is so important, because a lot of young ladies came in and could not dance. But they practice.”
“Coding is repetition, and dancing is also repetition,” said Franklyn Athias, who is the coding instructor at danceLogic. “Yes, one is exercise, but you got to learn the routine. It’s the same thing with coding, you still got to learn the routine.”
But why dance? Why not just teach girls to code without dancing? We found answers in Forbes article: New York City Teens Are Learning Coding And Science Through Dance, that is describing another similar program run by non-profit STEM From Dance:
“The reason we use dance is because researchers found that dance helps you with your problem-solving skills and also increases their confidence.”
Dance as a basis for problem-solving is a growing field within psychology research. It underlies some of the theories behind dancing as therapy for people with Parkinson’s Disease, for example, but it has also been used to encourage creative thinking among school children.
STEM From Dance uses dance to empower, educate, and encourage girls as our next generation of engineers, scientists, and techies. Our students build their confidence through dance and create challenging, technology-infused performances – ultimately building the skills needed for a future in STEM.