No matter how I used to encourage them to change up their facial expressions, many of my students only smiled when performing. When I asked them to experiment with different nuances and emotions in class, they would become self-conscious and visibly uncomfortable; onstage, they had difficulty connecting with their audiences. I decided to use musical…Read More
Teaching students how to create choreography out of an idea shows them how to use movement as a means of artistic expression, and exercises the creative and collaborative processes that they will need to face 21st-century challenges. My studio uses a choreographic process that emphasizes improvising, creating, showing, and observing; students engage with the material…Read More
What’s up in the dance community Dance educator Princess Johnson, founder of Greensboro, North Carolina’s Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet, designed her Dancing Dreamers curriculum to help kids embody their dreams through movement. This spring, local philanthropic organization the Women’s Professional Forum Foundation rewarded Johnson’s vision with a $1,500 donation. Johnson began developing the curriculum in…Read More
Ideas & advice from teachers The mirror is one of a dance teacher’s most prized tools and a student’s best friend. Teachers use it while demonstrating to observe students’ technique and behavior, and students can keep an eye on what their bodies—and those of their classmates—are doing right or wrong. Unfortunately, the mirror is so…Read More
by Susan Bennett Here’s a fun game in which students jump into circles on the beat. The objectives are to learn how to travel safely and anticipate when to jump by counting and feeling the beat. First, create circles or any geometric shapes, two to three feet in diameter, on the floor using tape. (Test…Read More
by Thelma Goldberg Many studio owners offer tap dance to preschoolers. But as someone who has spent a lifetime studying the art of tap, I’d like to suggest an alternative: offer your students ages 3 to 5 a curriculum of pre-tap—in ballet shoes. With planning and good marketing, your preschool program will flourish and students…Read More
by Amber Perkins Some say that contemporary is the new modern. I think Lester Horton and Katherine Dunham might be offended! I believe contemporary has a real connection to modern dance; it’s a free and emotional movement style that is fundamentally based in a traditional technique. Here’s a fun and interactive exercise that demonstrates this relationship.…Read More
by Thelma Goldberg With recital season upon us, let’s talk about memory and how to help our students strengthen their long-term recall of tap steps. Memories form when our neurons get fired up and make connections (or synapses) with one another to form a pattern of activity. During the memory encoding stage, dancers learn movements…Read More
Improv study can boost students’ creativity, resourcefulness by Bonner Odell For dance students, the phrase “let’s improv” can evoke a range of emotions: anxiety, excitement, insecurity, curiosity, or all of the above. Educators are responding to the ever-growing influence of improv as a training tool by incorporating it into contemporary, hip-hop, and jazz lessons—or even…Read More
Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation by Sandra Cerny Minton The fourth edition of this book contains new and updated materials and tools to help students develop their choreographic skills, from coming up with an idea to staging a performance. Includes expanded movement explorations and a new web resource with 23 video clips to help…Read More
by Amber Perkins I find that encouraging students to develop improvisational skills gives them not only a strong sense of confidence, but a chance to speak with their own voices and explore their own styles. You can incorporate improv into every single class you teach. Let’s say you teach a combo in class. At the…Read More
by Amanda Whitehead Experiencing music kinesthetically is one of my favorite parts of dancing: for sheer movement pleasure, give me some lush Tchaikovsky or bouncing electro-swing. Like me, few of my students can resist moving to music, and I enjoy preparing classes attuned to my students’ musical development and their pleasure in music, as well…Read More
The Emory University Dance and Movement Studies Program focuses on contemporary modern dance, emphasizing improvisation, choreography, and performance through a somatically based curriculum.Read More
by Karen White
The educational power of movement serves as the foundation of Locally Grown, a residency program through which Fusionworks Dance Company uses modern dance to take schoolchildren on an academic journey into subjects such as marine life, immigration, haiku, and earthquakes.Read More
by Heather Wisner
If you want to add contemporary dance to your studio’s schedule, your first task might be to ask yourself, “What exactly is contemporary dance?” It may sound like a silly question, but ask five different studio owners and teachers and you’ll get five different answers.Read More
Books of note (new and not)
1.America Dancing: From the Cakewalk to the Moonwalk
2.Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller
3.Physics and the Art of Dance: Understanding Movement, 2nd ed.
4.Song and Dance Man
by Joseph Carman
Every seven and a half seconds, a baby boomer turns 60—which means dance classes for senior citizens can be viewed as a growth industry. By 2020, 35 percent of the U.S. population will be age 50 or older, and that’s an age group that gravitates toward movement, dance, and fitness activities.
Savvy dance teachers around the country have created programs for elders. Whether the genre is improvisation, Zumba, chair dance, ballet, or cardio-based movement, senior citizens are making dance a vital part of their lives.Read More
by Karen White
When Alicia Jonas first taught preschool classes, she found herself on her own. Curriculum, format, music, expectations—all were left up to her by studio owners who offered little guidance.Read More
An explosive quality (driven by the energy of the music) is inherent to hip-hop. The ability to execute explosive movements—sudden, decisive, and fast—makes a dancer stand out onstage.
Encourage students to dance with each other in public as well as in class. While the studio is a great starting point, hip-hop dance is an art form that can be fully realized only when danced as a community, in a social setting.
Books of note (new and not)
1. Dumpy La Rue
2. Making Music for Modern Dance: Collaboration in the Formative Years of a New American Art
3. Dance Science: Anatomy, Movement Analysis, Conditioning
4. My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey
Organized by the Oakland-based, mixed-ability Axis Dance Company, this class for non-dancers is one among many that keep popping up in studios around the country. They enlarge traditional curriculum offerings and widen a studio’s customer base—similar, perhaps, to how tap and hip-hop did so in the past.
Part of this interest in dance as a pleasurable, non-technique–driven activity may be related to an increasingly sedentary society’s need to become more physically engaged. But not everyone is comfortable in a gym’s competitive atmosphere or jogging in the park. Dance tunes the body, but it also offers something else.Read More
“Great ideas originate in the muscles.” So said Thomas Edison, not exactly a slouch in the science arena.
Researchers differ on the percentage of the population, ranging from 5 to 45 percent, for whom kinesthetic learning is the primary mode of learning. Nevertheless, students often combine this modality with auditory and visual comprehension, and children in particular seem to gravitate to kinesthetic learning. Educational theorists from Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget to Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori understood the importance of tactile learning, particularly in primary and secondary education.
However, in academic environments the implementation of kinesthetic learning hasn’t been explored or utilized nearly as often as auditory and visual learning. To buck that trend, a growing number of dance educators are exploring how to use dance to teach academic subjects, such as mathematics, science, social studies, and language.
Finding an entryway to understanding mathematical, scientific, and other academic concepts through dance has become the focus of a number of U.S. schools.Read More