In a short video that went viral, we watch a whole elementary school – students and teachers alike – shuffle dancing in perfect sync and alignment, inside their schoolyard, in China’s Shanxi province. More videos and interviews followed that elucidated the goal of the original dance project.
Elementary school principal Zhang Pengfei noticed that the current curriculum failed to motivate his students to exercise and, like many kids growing up in a tech-savvy, increasingly online world, they would rather spend their breaks on their phones. As all innovative teachers know, solutions are not always to be found within the limits of the official curriculum, so Principal Zhang thought outside of the box: he learned a shuffle dance routine and introduced it to his students and colleagues, so that they could dance together during recess.
Since autumn 2018, Principal Zhang has been leading a schoolyard full of kids and teachers to shuffle to some feelgood song. Zhang’s novel approach not only addresses the need to motivate kids to exercise more, but also offers a solution to the issue of lack of space. The limited space of the playground hosts 700 children during breaks, and thus cannot accommodate ball games, or allow all of them to run around freely. Shuffling, by contrast, can be done on the spot and Zhang organised the kids in lines and rows, to which they adhere remarkably.