Ever think of what you can do to enhance the learning curve in your dance class? While dancers are often taught “how” sometimes we forget the “why’s,” “when’s,” and “where’s” things came from and happened….
In a time of abundant amounts of homework and test-taking, it sometimes can be a challenge to give little mini-projects to your dance students when no grade is pending, but if you make it fun and quick, I guarantee your students will enjoy learning more about dance, and not just from a movement standpoint.
- In class, use music of different eras, genres, cultures, etc. Quiz students on who or what the songs/musicians are they are listening to? I started doing this quite a few years ago and something so simple has now made my ten year olds able to immediately recognize upon hearing who the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Fela Kuti and Bach are!
- Give your musical theater students a monthly movie musical to watch. I usually give my students one movie per month. Have them jot down their observations, likes, dislikes, etc, about the movie (doesn’t have to be an official paper in essay form) and on a given date save the last ten or fifteen minutes of class to discuss. Have them keep all this info in a “Musical Theater Journal” as I like to call it, so they can reference it later at any time. (Remember to be flexible with changing due dates if they are swamped with school work, have midterms, etc…this is supposed to be fun for them, not another stress!)
- In ballet or modern class, ask them who their favorite company, choreographer, dancer, is and why. Have them again write down favorite works they’ve done, either by seeing it live or researching you-tube clips and creating a list of them to hand out to your class. The result, everyone then has the opportunity to learn about them as well.
- Point out a certain part of anatomy in class and have them research the bone, muscle, joint, etc, and discuss what it is, where it’s located, how we use it as dancers, how to protect it from injury, stretches for that area, etc.
- Ask your students to jot down an area of concentration they would like to learn during a class session? In a sense, let them give you ideas for lesson planning. Whether it be focusing on proper hip placement, using the breath, practicing jazz turns, etc. Get their interest going by teaching a class on what is presently relevant to them.
- Have dancers hand in a directive for an improvisation score. Then each week use their ideas for the improvisation part of class. Some of my own students have recently handed in ideas including:
- Focusing and initiating movement with the hands.
- Pretend you are in a jungle being chased by something and in the end they catch you
- Pretend you are at a party in the 1800’s.
- Movement focus only on mid and low levels
- Play with opposite dynamics, fast/slow, sharp/fluid and/or high/low.
See you in the dance studio!