Open Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

13 August 2012

Dear Mr. Cameron

We would like to introduce ourselves – we are Just Jhoom! (Just Dance!) the only accredited Bollywood dance-fitness company based in the UK. Our business is about getting people happy, healthy and fit through our classes in sports centres, schools, care homes and events. A successful small business, pioneers in our field with an international profile, we are based in Surrey, UK.  Our business straddles Indian dance and sport/fitness so we feel uniquely positioned to comment on your recent statement, which we feel is potentially very damaging for our business.

We were somewhat bemused by your comment on Daybreak on Fri 10 August regarding sports activity in schools.  To quote:

“The trouble we have had with targets up to now, which was two hours a week, is that a lot of schools were meeting that by simply doing things like Indian dance or whatever, that you and I probably wouldn’t think of as sport, so there’s a danger of thinking all you need is money and a target.”

Firstly, why blame the teachers!  Dance is actually classed as a sport as far as the national curriculum is concerned. Whether you or I think of Indian dance as sport is irrelevant, dance is a sport in the national curriculum and education professionals should be applauded for trying to deliver the curriculum and targets. We understand that the government has plans to rewrite the national curriculum and we wait with interest to hear where dance, sports and health sit in the new order but until then dance is a sport.

Secondly why the negativity?  We’ve come to the end of a fantastically successful Olympics for Britain with a record 29 gold medals and a rejuvenated, spirited, inclusive, positive and hugely successful Britain.  This is the result of individuals and teams who have been part of the education system you are so keen to knock, so what we have been doing in schools with regard to sports has clearly had some real positive impact! So if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!  Don’t remove what’s working – just do more of the same!

Thirdly, where are the statistics that tell us that if young people start dancing (Indian dance or otherwise) they won’t do other sports?  How many other Sophie Hitchons are there out there who started out as a dancer and then transferred those skills to a sport in her case to hammer throwing?  Sophie states herself that the skills she learned in ballet helped her with balance, core strength and also handling the stress of performing in front of 80,000 people. Also, top athletes will often use dance to improve their performances in the sports arena. British male swimmer Liam Tancock uses ballet as part of his training regime to improve his core, and be more aware of his hand and feet placement which is needed when he is in a pool.

Sport and dance have so many skills and attributes in common. To progress in each you need commitment, physical and mental strength, endurance, flexibility, dexterity and balance. Just Jhoom! has created a programme that develops all these skills as well as teamwork, creativity and so much more! The sessions are fun, engaging, and effective and as well as getting children moving help to improve emotional and mental well being…and yes – they are classed as “Indian dance”!

Reading between the lines I suggest that what you are really driving at is that Indian dance isn’t a sport because it isn’t competitive enough and that it doesn’t instil the drive and fighting spirit to win medals. If that’s the case then I suggest you try to enter dancing as a profession. Few make it to the top; many work hard to maintain a career and some struggle with injury and fitness. All need to make sacrifices and have friends and families who support their goal.  Sound familiar?  Yes most sports people and Olympians could identify with these statements too. To reach the top in both sport and dance you need phenomenal ability to take criticism and apply it, and the resilience and tenacity to fight for your goal.

Dance and sport equally have much to teach the next generation and both supply superb role models for fulfilling life ambitions, as well as promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

So here it is Mr. Cameron. An open invitation to you to participate in a Just Jhoom! dance session alongside a group of school children. We guarantee that not only will it change your mind about “Indian dance or whatever” but you’ll also feel energised, worked-out and motivated for more!

We look forward to your positive reply and to Jhooming (dancing) with you soon.

Shalini Bhalla (Director)

On behalf of the Just Jhoom! Education Team

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