Although I consider myself a creative music and drama teacher, I don’t feel the same when it comes to dance. With the other performative arts, I feel that I am able to use my experience as a high school band member and amateur acting hobbyist to present interesting lessons and assist students. Dance was not something I have ever gravitated to since I was young. Although largely fitted under the same umbrella, someone may have rhythmic talent but not able to convey it through movement. I have also met colleagues that can choreograph Bollywood routines, but balk at the idea of trying to teach those notes on a scale.
The same can often be said of students. While they are busy scrolling through TikTok, I wonder what percentage ‘like’ videos but just use the platform for viewing vs. creating their own content. Or, how many will diligently practise a dance from a viral challenge in a bedroom but freeze at the idea of performing in person in front of their peers.
When Music and Dance were separated into different parts of the report card halfway through my career, I knew I was going to have to challenge myself with teaching content that I was not as familiar with. Also, picturing myself back in my school days, there were predominantly going to be students that were not confident dancing even for non-‘romantic’ purposes, even in the pre-teen years. Here are some of the strategies I have adopted from introverted French speakers or oral presenters:
-if the dance is in a group and some students are more confident, see if you can get students to agree to perform one version live and record a different one with all of the group and sometimes this is less anxiety-inducing.
-if you are teaching online, have students send a video in where only you have to see a solo dance and challenge them to see if they have other talents that can be used such as backdrop design or video editing.
-If you have students that straight up decline to participate, do a bit more information gathering from them. Find out how you might be able to engage those students and help them participate in a way that still meets curriculum expectations; even if their learning task is different (e.g. complete a written reflection on the style of dance).
As you can see, these ideas work for both in person and online learning while following the curriculum expectations.
It has been interesting to see how examining a variety of music and dance styles can give students leadership opportunities in the arts, so if all else fails, sometimes performing a favourite song or latest artist hit can have students want to be in on the fun.
I will be getting married in July and I cannot remember ever dancing with everyone watching. Here’s hoping I can practise what I preach in honour of my students.