As a dance specialist teaching full-time in a public school, I’m continually weaving several strands into my curriculum map for the year:
- dance as a fine art, with emphasis on the vocabulary, concepts & skills of dance as a communicative tool;
- dance integrated into academic subjects, as a tool for exploration & expression;
- dance as a creative process, aligned & supported by the other fine arts of writing, visual art, music, and theatre;
- dance as an expression of self, culturally & individually.
I usually start with dance as a fine art, introducing vocabulary, concepts, and skills. As soon as we have some basics, my classes begin to incorporate curriculum topics from the classrooms. So far, this year 3rd graders have explored the mathematics of telling time, while 5th graders have created dances about erosion and other interactions of water and land. Currently, I’m using cultural dances to fill some huge gaps in my students’ understanding of geography, a sad consequence of what happens in a school where the entire focus is on improving reading & math scores.
In the area of integrating dance with other academic subjects, I’m always grateful for ideas and inspiration. It seems like I’ve integrated dance in a million ways over the years, and still it’s refreshing to hear more! Some dance specialists are fortunate to be in programs and models where collaboration with classroom teachers is built in and where the integration is a two-way exchange; I’m on my own.
Here are two articles that just came to me via Melissa Greenblatt of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)… Thank you, Melissa, for sending them out!