Interest in dance has increased in leaps and bounds over the past decade, but Hong Kong is still a long way from making it a key subject in schools, one of the region's top dance teachers said this week. Tom Brown, head and associate dean of modern dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA), said results of a recent survey of dance education in Hong Kong were encouraging, but added the subject was often misplaced in school curriculums. 'We're advocating that dance is placed within an arts curriculum,' he said. It was inappropriate to place dance with sport. It is different from swimming and ball games and needed a context, facilities and supervised training, he added. And dance offered as an extra-curricular activity (ECA) focused primarily on teaching skills rather than teaching the discipline within an arts education framework, Mr Brown said. Currently 59 per cent of schools offering dance run it as an ECA and 35 per cent as an ECA as well as a physical education (PE) subject. Only one school, Pentecostal Lam Hon Kwong School, Shatin, was found to be offering the subject within an arts-based curriculum alongside subjects like drama, music, visual arts, design and home economics. The School Dance Education Research and Development Project, commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in September 2002, estimated the number of students involved in dance education to be about 58,000. In addition, the number of schools offering dance had grown to 300, and many schools were planning to increase the frequency and types of activities. The surge in interest was partly due to the growing realisation that dance enhanced critical thinking and creativity, said Mr Brown, a former New York dancer and a dance educator in Hong Kong for 18 years. 'We propose three key learning processes for teaching dance in schools. Performing, creating and appreciating,' he said, adding dance was a logical and clear means of developing arts education, one of the key learning areas under the curriculum reform. The research project has resulted in the creation of a dance education resource kit, Intelligent Moves: dance education, which includes a teachers' handbook and VCD detailing how secondary and primary school teachers can embrace dance within the broader framework of arts education.