Teaching Dance

Dance is a type of art which is associated with the rhythmic movement of a person's body most often, but not necessarily, under musical accompaniment. Through this impulse people usually try to express an emotion or idea, release gathered energy or simply receive pleasure and delight from the movement itself. Similar to science, music and language arts, dance is also considered a discipline of study.

Dance educates children, adolescents and adults, regardless of their sex, in a physical, social, emotional and intellectual way. It is advisable that dance education starts with the preschool student and continues through elementary, middle and high school. In these establishments, dance and physical instructors along with classroom teachers and other arts educators deliver relevant programs to students. In the arts magnet schools in the United States, which provide special curricula such as performing arts, this responsibility is taken by specialists including certified dance educators, resource teachers or other instructors with experience in this field. A student who is a graduate of a similar high school program may choose to enter the profession or proceed with a college program.

Arts education, including dance teaching, helps students to develop self-discipline and persistence, improves their motivation and academic performance and also prepares them for their future workplace. Although, there are known similarities between being a dancer and a dance educator, the two roles have their differences. In order to be a good dancer, a student has to learn to observe, listen, practice and then improve his or her performance. No matter how good a dancer is, he or she may fail in attempting to become a teacher. To do this, the student has to think and ask questions about the purpose of something being done in a specific way and not the other way around. Moreover, the educator candidate has to be able to understand and most importantly enjoy the impulse of dancing. On the other hand, besides being a teacher, the dance educator can also take on the role of a mentor, choreographer, director, curriculum planner, administrator, assessor and evaluator.

Learners acquire the desired experience through three processes known as dancing, dance making and dance appreciation. The task of the teacher is to set up an appropriate curriculum which is based on the needs of the students. Private studios, K-12 (which represents kindergarten through to 12th grade) and higher education are viewed as the three biggest dance teaching professions. K-12 is the area that requires greatest diversity in training, education, experience and expertise as well as skills. For the purpose of teaching educational dance in K-12, the teacher has to work out a program that ties in with three substantial aspects, namely dance expertise, education methods and dance education methods, including experiences and skills.

In dance, a certified K-12 specialist should demonstrate and use his or her knowledge in anatomy, kinesiology and somatics to prevent common dance injuries. If injuries occur, the educator should know how to treat them immediately so as to speed up the healing process. The teacher should also use dance aesthetics and criticism along with movement analysis and dance notation. The dance teacher needs to be familiar with dance history and non-Western dance forms. In terms of education, the teacher should use knowledge of child and social development. The educator should be able to establish both simple and complex concepts, assess learners and evaluate programs based on national, state and district standards.

In dance education, the specialist needs to use motor and aesthetic development principles, strength training and knowledge on warming up and cooling down exercises to avoid injury. Furthermore, the educator should teach composition and choreographic craft along with a technique in at least one classical dance style. He or she should be able to design an appropriate dance curriculum, using age level-based instructional strategies. The teacher must also provide information on vernacular and concert forms of dance. Each dance educator is required to have a broad knowledge base in the field and to assume multiple and overlapping responsibilities in order to teach others. He or she has to inspire, nurture and value students. It is crucial that the educator teaches children as individuals as they have different personalities, needs and qualities, which need to be recognized by the teacher to get the best possible results.

Teaching Dance: Selected full-text books and articles

Toward a Definition of Dance Education By Koff, Susan R Childhood Education, Vol. 77, No. 1, Fall 2000
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Description of an Expert Teacher's Constructivist-Oriented Teaching: Engaging Students' Critical Thinking in Learning Creative Dance By Chen, Weiyun Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Vol. 72, No. 4, December 2001
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Body Can Speak: Essays on Creative Movement Education with Emphasis on Dance and Drama By Annelise Mertz; Joseph Roach Southern Illinois University Press, 2002
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