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make your day dance

Dancing through thick and thin…

December 9th, 2009 · No Comments · Tags: ··

November was a challenging month, and I’m still looking for December to work some special magic.  Upheaval and turmoil aside, the daily schedule continues… 25 kids, 8 times a day, five days a week… sometimes I wonder how. But classes get planned, executed, tracked & reflected upon. ‘Cause appropriate instruction is the difference between order and chaos, and when there’s turmoil outside of school, there’s got to be order in the classroom.  We’ve done…

  • body shapes & developmental moves (kindergarten)
  • range/size, speed, pathways & relationships (1st-2nd)
  • choreography from motifs integrated with ecosystems & cultural dances (3rd-4th)
  • the warm-up process & elements of technique in hiphop & cultural styles (5th)
  • breath, beach balls & BrainDance rhymes (autism).

A new twist for me this year in planning has been the concept of incorporating mentor works at frequent intervals along the way…  an idea I got from Writers Workshop, where stories & literary examples are chosen as mentor works to illustrate writing strategies.  In dance too, mentor works serve to exemplify creative strategies — but are valuable for so much more.  Most students have such a limited experience of dance — and many stereotypes. So mentor works provide background: what different dance styles look like, what a dance looks like on stage, the different movement signatures of men & women around the world, how to tell a story in dance, how the lights & costumes support a dance, what expert technique looks like on a variety of bodies… And for my kiddos, who have one dance teacher for 6 years, they get a glimmer of what it might be like to have a different dance instructor!

In thinking of mentor works, I include several categories of resources:

  • Cultural dances offer a wonderful array of steps, various dance elements, partner maneuvers & group formations.
  • Videos of people doing cultural dances provide visual support to help kids accomplish a tricky maneuver (like “reeling the set” in contra dance — much easier to do once they’ve seen it done).
  • Videos of performance dance illustrate dance elements, choreographic devices, the history of dance, contributions of key choreographers & superb technique.
  • Instructional videos, chosen carefully, give kids a chance to have a great work-out in a new dance style with a different instructor.

More to come on mentoring resources, as (if?) outside commitments thin out…

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