Thoughts About Teaching Beginning, Middle, and Ending In Dance

Thoughts About Teaching Beginning, Middle, and Ending In Dance

Reposted from an earlier date.  Blog by Brenda Pugh McCutchen September 10, 2015 This is written in honor of National Arts Education Week starting September 13, 2015. Today as I wrote teaching materials for dance composition several points of clarity emerged.  I thought they were worth sharing.   Today’s writing topic was beginning-middle-ending (B-M-E), which I have always thought of as the primary “structure” for dance choreography of any length. While that is true to an extent, I also realized that B-M-E is more than a structure. I now believe it is actually the “developmental framework for all dances” and not a structure at all.   What brought me to that conclusion was the search to find the exact words to set B-M-E apart from the dance structures posters which I had just written for dance forms such as AB, Rondo, narrative, theme and variation that will be published in a Choreographic Structures teaching kit for middle and high school.  The unintended consequences of writing instructional materials –which includes teaching posters for teachers to use in the classroom–is that what you think you’re going to say on a poster can back you into a corner. What you thought was right can show you unequivocally that it is wrong. To create coherent posters, which must explain each vital aspect of dance and how it differs from other aspects, has been the most instructive thing I have ever done.  (Incidentally, that is how “choreographic processes” and “choreographic devices” distinguished themselves in 2011 while I wrote Creating Dance: Processes for Choreographing. Initially, I thought all of them were choreographic processes because that’s...
Dance Teacher Gift Certificates

Dance Teacher Gift Certificates

=ANNOUNCEMENT= Good news when shopping for a dance teacher! from Dance Curriculum Designs Inspired Teaching Tools   Did you know that Dance Curriculum Designs offers gift certificates at www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com.   Is your group pooling resources to buy your teacher a gift? Is someone in your family wanting dance education resources? Is your son or daughter studying dance education in grad school or college? Is your spouse a K-12 dance specialist who keeps a “wish list?” Has your beloved dance teacher’s budget shrunk? Does your significant-other own a dance studio?   You can make gift-giving simple with a DCD Gift Certificates that allow them to select their own wished-for resources.   Pool your money for a DCD Gift Certificate that enables your special teacher to take items off of the “wish list” and right into the studio classroom?   Brenda Pugh McCutchen, author of Teaching Dance as Art in Education, creates unsurpassed inspired teaching tools.  They dynamically flow from core concepts in this textbook which was published by Human Kinetics in 2006.  The inspired teaching tools emphasize anchor concepts in each of dance’s artistic processes to support a standards-aligned curriculum—whether creating, performing, responding, or connecting. The tools help teachers consistently articulate what is most important to know about dance.   Simply go to the www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com, click on “Store” and then “Gift Certificates.”  You will receive the certificate that is coded for you to present your special dance educator.   Gift Certificates are available year round to mark any special occasion! Two denominations available.:  DCD $50 and DCD $100...

Dance Curriculum Videos

Here are several short videos of the entrance to the exhibit hall at National Dance Education Organization’s (NDEO) annual conference in Washington, DC (USA). The conference was conveniently located near the Reagan International Airport in Arlington, VA at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.  Dance Curriculum Designs, Rutgers University, and Routledge Publishing were among the first exhibitors once conferees entered the Exhibit Hall.   Rutgers University:   The first video shows an interview with some of the graduate students in dance education at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Jersey and one of their professors.  They and I had several interesting conversations based on their graduate studies textbook which is Teaching Dance as Art in Education (my textbook).  They impressed me by quoting from different chapters in the textbook as well as their obvious philosophical alignment with the holistic 6DC educational dancemodel as the alternative to a performance-driven presentational dance model.   Routledge Publishing:   The second video is a look at the amazing journals produced by Routledge (part of Taylor and Francis Publishing Company).  We talked with Jen Paul, Routledge’s representative.   Dance Curriculum Designs:   The last two videos are of the Dance Curriculum Designs vendor table at NDEO conference ending with a short interview with Cheryl Stevens.  Cheryl is vital to the success of our vendor table.  She is especially helpful in her keen ability to assist customers, answer questions, and talk to dance educators in K-12 and higher education about what our educational resources are designed to accomplish in their classrooms.   It was a genuine pleasure to meet and greet our colleagues in all reaches of dance education who gathered to move the field of dance education...
Brenda McCutchen—Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado

Brenda McCutchen—Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado

“Brenda McCutchen—Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado” August 29, 2016 Brenda McCutchen spent part of July in Greeley, Colorado as guest professor at the University of Northern Colorado.  She was invited by Dr. Sandra Minton and Ms. Christy McConnell-Black who co-direct the graduate program which offers a master’s degree in dance education.  McCutchen spent time with both cohorts of graduate students to investigate the art and the science of dance pedagogy.   Because the McCutchen textbook–Teaching Dance as Art in Education—is the main text for both cohorts in the degree program, she provided insights on how varied components from the text strategically interact to reinforce each other and how they overlay to accomplish multiple goals at once.  The cohorts learned how to combine these different aspects to accomplish more in less time than if addressed separately.  Experiential sessions demonstrated methods that also turned pedagogical dance theory into dynamic practice and informed our process.   The advanced students absorbed the 6DC model as a descriptive model of best practice (instead of being a prescriptive model).  Thus they were empowered to make their own contribution to dance education in a way that suits their student population, within the parameters of these defining characteristics and the standards guidelines.   Both cohorts examined the 6DC model of educational dance presented in TDAE  to determine how all six defining characteristic impact the educational value of dance in a K-12 curriculum.  The six defining characteristics then became the basis for a three-dimensional matrix. This pedagogical matrix sets out to overlay the four artistic processes of dance’s cornerstone disciplines, the four areas of student development in dance, and...
Dance—the Ephemeral Art

Dance—the Ephemeral Art

Dance—the Ephemeral Art   by Brenda Pugh McCutchen August 1, 2016     “Mountains and trees were considered tangible, measurable, and verifiable while reflections were only colored light—lost from one moment to the next.”   –comment on a wall plaque in the Columbia Museum of Art exhibit associated with the Hudson River Valley art exhibit  which referred to the paintings’ watery reflections in the landscape as intangible bits of colored light (January 2012, Columbia, SC, USA). This memorable quotation reminds us that the art of dance is much the same way.  When we watch a dance, our eye follows the dancing body which is the tangible, measurable, and verifiable form we see.  However, in the process we can miss some of the nuance, the transitions between movements, the subtleties of motion that tend to get lost moment to moment by the viewer so that if we are not tuned into the spaces between the moves or to the small details between places in route to the most dynamic movements, we miss the “colored light” that surrounds the dance. Dance, the ephemeral visual art that exists only in each split second of the moment and then evaporates into the next, is the quintessential art.  It is made for the moment to experience fully as performer and as audience.  That is true due to two phenomena: 1) in dance the body transcends its own visceral self to become the art instrument, and 2) its medium is momentary-movement, so short-lived that it vaporizes into thin air as soon as it appears. What other art form can carry such reverence for life, such beauty of form,...
“The Value of a Well-Rounded Education” and How It Impacts Dance Education

“The Value of a Well-Rounded Education” and How It Impacts Dance Education

The Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA) makes for a brighter future by broadening the perspective about what it takes to educate a child in today’s schools.  That expansion bodes well for education which has unintentionally languished through the years of the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB).  Now that ESSA repeals the narrowly-focused NCLB, the value of arts education is re-emphasized. Dance education is particularly vulnerable during this transition.  Here is why. To add dance just for the sake of diversifying the curriculum is insufficient. To create performance-driven dance programs narrows the curriculum by allocating too many educational minutes to performance preparation. While they are entertaining, overemphasis on showcases diminishes the key content and experiences that afford a complete education in all artistic processes. The goal of ESSA is to provide a well-rounded education which includes dance. But unless dance re-envisions what a well-rounded dance education means, dance will become nothing more than a satellite to the core curriculum.  Its performance-driven emphasis will prevent it from achieving the criteria that would make it educational.  That would be a shame for everyone. Now is the opportune time to redesign the old 20th century model of performance-driven dance in K-12 in favor of a well-rounded education in dance.  To expand the traditional one-dimensional “steps and styles” emphasis into an inclusive multi-dimensional emphasis is necessary if dance is to achieve educational integrity.  Expansion of our horizons for the sake of a broader dance literacy will require a systemic change in how dance specialists are prepared as undergraduates in higher education, in how dance is taught in the schools, in how dance specialists...
How Do You Teach Modern Dance Techniques?

How Do You Teach Modern Dance Techniques?

Calling technique professors in higher education and dance specialists in grades 8-12!  How do you teach modern dance technique?  Do you teach technique from a somatics perspective?  If so, what are your key phrases and images that get the best results?  Would you share with me helpful hints on ways to get adults and young adults to sharpen some of their main movement skills?   I’d like to synthesize them into a useful resource for teaching somatically-based technique.  No doubt you can recall several effective images or useful phrases you use to get at key movement skills related to such topics as the use of breath, body connectivity, balance, flexibility, articulation, alignment (static or dynamic), weight shift, rotation, initiations, mobility and stability.  If you are willing to share some of them, I will incorporate them into teacher effectiveness resources I am developing.   Also, I’ve recently been thinking about the stellar teachers we have studied with in our modern dance lineage and their gifted way of verbalizing the physicality of dance.  Having just returned from American Dance Festival, I’m reminded of the long heritage of teaching artists and their eloquent comments in class that so many of us recall while studying there (e.g., I can still hear the artistic clarity of Betty Jones, Danny McKayle, and Lynda Davis).  What expressive ways modern dance artists have of eliciting specific artistic intentions with mere words, images, or gestures.   It seems important that we also capture some of these priceless jewels to collect into a resource that not only informs but also inspires the new generations of dancers that come after us. ...
Personalizing Dance History for Tweens and Teens

Personalizing Dance History for Tweens and Teens

An Interview with Author, Anne Dunkin, Ph.D. by Brenda Pugh McCutchen February 20, 2016   Here is an interview with Anne Dunkin about her dance history book, How They Became Famous Dancers: A Dancing History (2015). It is a satisfying read for anyone who loves dance. The book, a dance history resource, tells how twelve dancers leave a lasting impact on dance. After reading it I asked her to share her process and tell how her research brought dance history to life for today’s readers. The book makes it obvious that Dunkin loves dance and dance history, loves teaching, and also relishes research as a discovery process.              Although Dunkin does not mention this, please allow me this observation. Think about dance as the shortest-lived of all the arts, existing only at the moment of performance. Then think about dance history as the most elusive discipline within dance. Why? There is no movement footage of centuries of celebrated performers, choreographers, and their dance works. All we have are word descriptions and notations which leave clues, dots to join together. Because of no tangible arts works from gifted creators of centuries past, dance seems to lack a heritage or history. Because ground-breaking dances of the past cannot be reproduced or reconstructed, dance education can neither compare nor contrast the performances and choreographic work of ancient cultures with those of today, like other arts disciplines take for granted. Imagine if we could not hear any of the symphonies of famous 17th century composers but could only read about them? What if we only had outlines of Shakespeare’s plays instead of the scripts...