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Dance at St Edward's Oxford is helping school sports

Dance at St Edward's Oxford is becoming more and more popular, both for boys and girls. The skills of coordination and manoeuvrability are increasingly being seen as complementary for sport, helping a pupil become a more rounded athlete.

Dance at St Edward's Oxford is helping school sports
The Dance Show - Summer 2021 (Photo: St Edward's School, Oxford)

"I don’t really know why, but we’ve never had that attitude here. I think we’ve just got great pupils that encourage each other."

So says Lisa Elkins, Head of Dance at St Edward’s, when asked if there’s any smirking about boys in the 1st Rowing VIII doing ballet.

In fact, Lisa goes on to say that ballet and rowing, or rugby, or netball – where footwork and elevation are key – or any other sport for that matter, work beautifully together.

"I've done some work-outs with the 1st XV Rugby team," she says. "You develop great core strength and flexibility dancing, and this helps enormously on the pitch."

"Rugby players may be very fit and able to sustain a 90-minute game, and they can probably get their dance partner up in the air for a lift, but can they sustain it?

"That requires core strength, and that is impressive, and the pupils know that."

Lisa, who also coaches netball, believes that dance and sport absolutely complement each other and make for a more rounded athlete.

Guy Wheeler, a Lower Sixth pupil who favours the Contemporary Duet class agrees: "This year I have made it into the 1st VIII rowing squad after three years of training.

"This is also the year I have picked up dance, and the athleticism gained from sport paired with the coordination and manoeuvrability from dance has combined to make me be much better at both."

Sixth Former Ruby Faulkner takes three classes a week in Funk Fusion, Freestyle and Jazz and also plays in the Hockey and Netball 1st teams.

She also sees the benefits of this combined athletic approach: "Freestyle has pushed me most out of my comfort zone and been the most demanding in terms of developing my flexibility and strength, which I have found incredibly rewarding."

Dance is widely practised at St Edward's and a highly respected activity in all years, and for both boys and girls.

All pupils are actively encouraged to give it a go from the very start of their school career – and more and more pupils are taking advantage of this opportunity.

"Even if they are stressed, they come into the studio – a different space – leave their revision for 45 minutes, enjoy themselves, get the blood flowing, then go back to their work," says Lisa Elkins.

"It’s good for their well-being and concentration."