Claudia Pritchard: We are all Dancing Queens – given half a chance

Share
Related Topics

R unners make a particular sound. A book of birdsong would describe it as a "thwew, thwew". And across the country flocks of great-crested thwewers are currently pounding the pavements, at all times of day and night, and in all weathers.

It is four weeks to go until the London Marathon, and the training is getting serious. Today, families all over the country will run the Sport Relief Mile, less earnestly. Next stop, the Great Daffodil Run (27 April) – and there are dozens more jogs and sprints to come. But what if you are not built to go 26 miles – or even one? Is the person resistant to traditional sports and athletics condemned to a life of lethargy?

School PE conjures uncomfortable memories for many women, in particular, and fails to ignite the passions of today's schoolgirls. Yet they are regularly promised more, by ministers, of the very thing than turns them off fitness. They put their pumps on grudgingly, if at all, and do not see the point.

Most games and sports are forms of hunting or warfare, however gentrified, and squaring up to rivals has, in the minds of young women, little connection with their obsession with body image. They will fret from an alarmingly early age about their shape and size, but are more likely to see skipping food at midday as a route to the body beautiful than donning the goal-shooter's bib straight afterwards. And this is not because girls are lazier than boys – they are tireless when motivated – they are just not that bothered about winning.

But the unappealing nature of so many sports, to girls, is not their only obstacle. Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Schools, has encouraged schools to adopt PE clothing that appeals to girls, such as jogging bottoms. Girls, who are maturing at an earlier age, are often ill at ease in their fast-changing bodies and find some games activities unpleasant. This is not the time to be straddling benches or taking a direct hit on the chest from a netball. No wonder the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation last week found that schoolgirls get more physical activity during their lunchbreak than during PE lessons. Most simply don't enjoy the latter.

What girls do love is dancing. They do it on dance pads, in the kitchen, in front of bathroom mirrors. They do it in the playground – with others, not against them. Play the music and they become not a striker for Man U but a Sugababe. Most can dance instinctively, as boys can kick a ball; they have rhythm, line, and pelvises designed to turn out.

The other day I saw an eight-year-old pole-dancing on the Tube. While most looked on disturbed by this junior display of precocious sexuality, I believe she was artlessly perfecting her bump and grind for the creative pleasure it gave her, and not for the benefit of others.

As little children, it is customary to flit like butterflies in the school hall and prowl like cats, reacting to music. But then, it seems, children become too old for such antics. From now on it is ballet (paid for, out of school time), or nothing. In other cultures, dance is at the heart of social rituals; and it is not always about sex.

Dance is inclusive: the chorus line and the traditional corps de ballet trade on a simple aesthetic phenomenon – 30 people doing the same movements can be magically more impressive than a solo. A classful of little Beyoncés needs every pair of hips and feet – not just those of the sporty girls.

Dancing burns as many calories an hour as basketball and requires no special equipment. You can do it until you drop. It expands the mind and tightens the tush. And the clothes are nice. We should get our girls dancing for exercise. Then we can start on the boys.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems & Data Lead – Oxfordshire – Permanent – Up to £24k

£20000 - £24000 Per Annum 28 days holiday, free parking, pension: Clearwater P...

Digital Media Manager

£38000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Secondary School Teachers in Norfolk

£100 - £140 per day + Competitive Pay: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary...

PMO Analyst - Risk - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Risk - Banking - London - £350 - £4...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

August catch-up: second languages, the secret of love and is it all right to call someone stupid?

John Rentoul
High and mighty: Edinburgh Castle and city skyline  

i Editor's Letter: We're coming to Edinburgh

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?