Blog

Creative Presence in the Art of Folding

Creative Presence in the Art of Folding

“Creative Presence in the Art of Folding”   Blog by Brenda Pugh McCutchen, M.F.A. Author of Teaching Dance as Art in Education, (Human Kinetics, 2006) and creative force behind DanceCurriculuomDesigns.com July 2, 2018   What I want to share with you is how the simplest of ideas can become profound when put into motion in one’s body-space and time.  All that is needed is an organic idea and the creative nudge to explore it in terms of movement and the self.   This creative idea—simply FOLDING—is an organic invitation to explore the wonders of the body instrument and to let it go where the body-mind finds to take it.  Folding can be explored for hours to deepen the connection to the self.  Folding can be experimented with for years to find the special kinds of artistic expression that are unique to your body.  You don’t have to be able-bodied to do so.  It can be a gentle exploration in place, through different levels in space, changing body parts and directions, changing the speed with which you feel like moving.  It can be a deepening of the self in harmony with the concept of folding which we began in the womb and continue to experience as a part of daily life without being conscious of it.  This is an invitation to bring a simple idea, like folding, to the conscious level in motion.   In addition to a gentle movement exploration, it can become a more extensive exploration in folding while experimenting being supported by different parts of the body, folding parts of one’s external space, traveling through space, involving... read more
CREATIVE PROMPTS FOR DIFFERENT ART FORMS

CREATIVE PROMPTS FOR DIFFERENT ART FORMS

When I was writing stanzas to abstract for choreography and other creative arts in these two books, I searched for a symbol that would capture the sense of motion and also of transformation.  I found such a symbol coincidentally when an iridescent dragonfly visited me on the terrace while I was writing the stanzas and kept returning insistently saying “Use me as the symbol!  Try ‘dragonfly diamantes’.”  This enchanting encounter turned out to be serendipity.   Afterward, I began to investigate dragonflies to determine if they were a fitting symbol to use for such inspiration, especially for choreographic stanzas that were to be transformed into non-literal movement. What follows is what I learned about this fitting symbol for creativity:  the dragonfly. SYMBOLISM OF THE DRAGONFLY   The dragonfly in most every part of the world symbolizes change –the kind that has its source in mental, emotional maturity and understanding the deeper meaning of life. …  The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. Power and Poise The dragonfly’s agile flight and ability to move in all six directions exude a sense of power and poise – something that comes with age and maturity. The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles an hour, hover like a helicopter, fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up and down, and go to either side–all while flapping its wings only 30 times a minute while mosquitoes and houseflies flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute, respectively. The dragonfly accomplishes its objectives with utmost simplicity... read more
An NDEO Moment at the 2017 National Conference

An NDEO Moment at the 2017 National Conference

A NDEO Moment at the 2017 National Conference   By Cyndi Wellborn November 19, 2017 Although Brenda McCutchen was unable to attend the 2017 National Dance Education Organization conference in San Antonio Texas recently, that didn’t stop Dance Curriculum Designs from making an impact on the attendees. Dance Curriculum Designs supplied over 800 color copies of Brenda’s newly designed poster, “Take a Moment to Dance”, as part of attendees’ conference gift bags.  Tina Curran sent a photo of the conference bag and poster.   Kristina Walton (L) and Lisa Herlinger-Thompson (Rt) show off their posters with some serious movements after a fun day at the conference as they “take a moment to dance.”     Blogger: Cyndi Wellborn is the office manager of Dance Curriculum Designs, in Columbia, SC. She is the reason the posters arrived safely and in time to be put into the NDEO conference gift bags. She is also the reason that DCD products arrive in the hands of those who are awaiting their orders.   Brenda Pugh McCutchen Dance Curriculum Designs Columbia, SC ... read more
Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado

Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado

“Brenda Pugh McCutchen—Guest Teacher at University of Northern Colorado” August 29, 2016 (keep this date)   Brenda McCutchen spent part of July 2016 in Greeley, Colorado as guest professor of dance education 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 (TDAE)–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... read more
Nature-inspired Choreography

Nature-inspired Choreography

Nature-inspired Choreography By Brenda Pugh McCutchen June 25, 2017     Inspiration for dance making comes from many sources.  The natural world provides numerous cues that nudge us into intuitive improvisations and creative dance compositions.  Such inspirations can lead to dance “tone poems” of the sort as Debussy’s and Ravel’s musical inspirations captured in sounds the essence of the subjects they were inspired to portray.  Why not also portray the essence of a natural subject in motion and in dance?   One of the most intimate looks at nature comes from time-lapsed photography.  Until that was available, the human eye could not see the hidden dances of nature at such an elaborate and fathomless level.  This photographic medium allows us to absorb the actual motion that is occurring even though in real time it is unseen and unexpected.  Nature seen through the time-lapse medium is mesmerizing in itself, but when used as the source for choreographic inspiration, it can produce a very personal and mesmerizing work.   We’re talking about going into a mysterious, hidden world. What is more intriguing? For example, natural choreographies of two bean plants as a duet reaching, circling, and attaching to a space where they can spiral upward are beautiful inspirations for dance-making.  How surprising it is to see the amount of motion taking place which eludes us in real time.  The video presents unseen choreographies going on all around us about which we are oblivious.  To notice them through this photographic essay may help us look deeper for mysterious, unnoticed dances in places we did not previously think to look.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTljaIVseTc   Why not let this viewing experience inspire... read more
Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts

Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017 the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts were presented in the SC State House by South Carolina governor, The Honorable Henry McMaster. The South Carolina Arts Commission and the governor’s office have presented the awards, the highest honor the state gives in the arts, since 1972.   Among the 2017 Verner Award recipients was Brenda Pugh McCutchen who received the “arts education award” for contributions to South Carolina arts education over her 40+ year career in dance, dance education and arts education. Ms. McCutchen was recognized for her work in arts administration, dance education, curriculum writing in higher education, and for her creative vision which brought forth the foundations textbook for teacher preparation in dance, Teaching Dance as Art in Education, as well as for creating the conceptual-based teacher resources that help to realize a holistic educational dance program in K-12. She was also recognized for her ongoing presence with the “Arts in Basic Curriculum” Project (ABC) since its inception, having served on the initial planning committee (1987), the ABC Leadership Team (1989-93), and as an ongoing member of the ABC Steering Committee from 1988 until today.   The Verner award comes with a bronze cast statue handcrafted by noted South Carolina artist Jean McWhorter (1932-2011). McCutchen received the engraved statue for Arts Education from Governor McMaster and the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the SC Arts Commission.   Following the State House presentation was a formal luncheon to honor the Verner award recipients.  Each awardee was recognized for significant contributions in a specific area of the arts. Proceeds from... read more
Student Thank You Letter

Student Thank You Letter

Dance Curriculum Designs appreciates elementary school dance specialist, Kellianne Floyd, in Spartanburg 2 Schools (SC) who sent this image she made of a “thank you” note that one of her 2nd graders wrote to Donors Choose.   Donors Choose was started by a history teacher. In 2000, Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school, wanted his students to read Little House on the Prairie. As he was making photocopies of the one book he could procure, Charles thought about all the money he and his colleagues were spending on books, art supplies, and other materials. He figured there were people out there who’d want to help — if they could see where their money was going. Charles sketched out a website where teachers could post classroom project requests, and donors could choose the ones they wanted to support. His colleagues posted the first 11 requests. Then it spread. Today, they are open to every public school in America.   The note that Kellianne’s second grade student wrote was to thank them for providing IPads for their dance classroom.  You will see the small drawing of the iPad in the upper part of the drawing.  Unprompted, this child drew an image of the “Dance Elements Daisy” which made a strong impression on her as a learning tool to instill the dance elements.  Notice the recall and the visual impact the daisy had on her learning.  And the drawing is even in scale.  That must be a pretty savvy second grader and second-grade class.  This is the first year they have had dance in the school’s curriculum.  Good work by instilling the dance... read more
S.C. ARTS COMMISSION ANNOUNCES 2017 ELIZABETH O’NEILL VERNER AWARDS RECIPIENTS

S.C. ARTS COMMISSION ANNOUNCES 2017 ELIZABETH O’NEILL VERNER AWARDS RECIPIENTS

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission announces the 2017 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts. Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.   This year’s recipients:   Lifetime Achievement: Laura Spong, Columbia Leo Twiggs, Orangeburg Artist: Quentin Baxter, Charleston Individual: Betsy Teter, Spartanburg Arts in Education: Brenda P. McCutchen, Columbia Business/Foundation: The Stringer & Rainey Foundations, Anderson Government: The City of Beaufort/USC Beaufort Center for the Arts, South Carolina Organization: South Carolina Humanities, Columbia   “Each of these Verner Award recipients has contributed greatly to the arts community as an outstanding ambassador for our state,” said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. “Their dedication to the arts benefits South   Carolinians and materially enhances our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission marks its 50th anniversary, we are honored to recognize these organizations and individuals who embody the service, commitment and passion that helped build our state’s half century of leadership in the arts.”   Awards will be presented May 2 in Columbia (location and time to be announced), and the S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients at a luncheon at noon. A fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission, the luncheon includes an art sale and takes place at the USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate St., Columbia. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased online at www.SouthCarolinaArts.com.   The 2017 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon,... read more
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... read more
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... read more

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... read more
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... read more
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,... read more
“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... read more
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. ... read more
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... read more
What is Dance Doing in Education?

What is Dance Doing in Education?

  Dance, when it is at its very best, is an indelible representation of the history of the human species.  Dance as art and human expression has flourished since the dawn of mankind.  It is the natural way to communicate.  Indeed, it preceded human language and from its outset dance has dwelt in the land of abstract symbol and also of representation as a way to communicate with unseen forces as well as those in plain sight.  As pre-verbal communication, dance became a personal art form, an encapsulation of the values, beliefs, and hopes of peoples from every corner of the world.   Whether theatrical, ritual, therapy, or art, each type of dance had a specific intent to carry out in no mistakable terms.  There was no ambiguity then as there is now about what dance is.  When we ask “What is dance doing in education?” we need to think of Dance with a capital D, of Dance as the quintessential art form, of the big picture of Dance from the dawn of civilization to the present moment.  It is Dance that turns the body into a crucible of energy and an instrument of expression.  It is Dance that expresses all that is important to the species throughout history.  The study of Dance, therefore, should be the rich study of cultural anthropology, of humans responding to their plights and expressing their joys, of people at their best and worst, of dance as the preservation of cultural identity and the means to pass on values to the next generations.  Dance should be investigated as a record of history’s major cultural revolutions and an art form that is bound by... read more
Teaching Dance as Art in Education (Chinese Edition)

Teaching Dance as Art in Education (Chinese Edition)

PRESS RELEASE December 26, 2015 TEACHING DANCE AS ART IN EDUCATION (Chinese Edition) Chinese Version Shanghai Music Publishing House, Human Kinetics, and Dance Curriculum Designs announce the publication of the Chinese edition of Teaching Dance as Art in Education.  The comprehensive foundation for dance teacher preparation made its way into China through Professor Lu Yisheng, the former president of Beijing Dance Academy.  Professor Lu is currently in charge of organizing the dance education system that will place dance teachers in China’s ordinary schools (i.e., public schools). In 2012, Professor Lu Yisheng came to observe all ages of K-12 dance education classes in New York City schools and classes at NYU.  His two week visit was hosted by Dr. Susan Koff of NYU Steinhardt School.  He also came to review teacher preparation resources. In a letter to author Brenda Pugh McCutchen, Professor Lu requested the translation rights to Teaching Dance As Art in Education saying, “I’m really excited when I read this book.  It is exactly what I and the Chinese dance education needed.  I want to publish this book and introduce it to all the dance teachers in China.”     Dr. Lu arranged for Shanghai Music Publishing House to translate the text into the Simplified Chinese Language (SCL).  Not only is this translation a comprehensive dance education textbook for dance teachers in China, it also serves other Chinese readers worldwide who want to know of the depth and breadth of educational dance in K-12.   The Chinese version is a large size (8.5” x 11” x 1.5”) with 534 pages bound in a durable cover, published May 2015. See below... read more
Dance Appreciation—the Discovery of a Dynamic Art Form

Dance Appreciation—the Discovery of a Dynamic Art Form

Arts appreciation courses at the college level are some of the most important to help us navigate in the civilized world.  A universal language, the fine arts communicate across language barriers and thereby become shared experiences among people around the world. References are continually made to leading works of art, past and present, as a way to communicate nuance worldwide.  Because art belongs to everyone, arts appreciation courses connect us in innovative ways to the present and past.  With the arts accessible even to far-reaching corners of the globe it becomes more important to raise the expectations for the courses that develop a keen awareness of one or more of the arts as part of one’s general education. The goal of any arts appreciation course should be arts literacy.  Arts literacy is one of the highest forms of human intelligence.  That is because it activates all the dimensions of higher order thinking in at least four different aspects of an arts discipline: Original creation of the art Demonstrations of the work (exhibit or performance) Analysis and critique of the art Relation of the work to a broader context so as to enrich the experience by generating a better understanding of the work. To be an artist requires all of these.  To be an appreciator requires the last two. The fact that many university arts appreciation courses, such as dance appreciation, fall short of engaging its students in higher order thinking and production sells the arts short.  Surface treatment trivializes the arts. To merely show “art in the dark” followed by a multiple choice test misses the point of the... read more
Catalysts for Creating Dance

Catalysts for Creating Dance

PRESS RELEASE August 28, 2015 CATALYSTS FOR CREATING DANCE (Kids Koolkit  for K-5) Dance Curriculum Designs www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com 803-754-7384 Dance Curriculum Designs announces another new creative dance resource for elementary grades, CATALYSTS FOR CREATING DANCE K-5.  It is a CONTEXTUAL LEARNING SYSTEMS™ kit and all 235 resources are devoted to the artistic process, CREATING.  Materials align with the national core arts standards for “creating.”   A 55-page Teacher’s Ideabook offers numerous ways to present and cross-reference the materials.  205 creative catalysts include “22 Ways to Vary a Phrase,” a set of “Flip Side” movement cards, the stanza booklet “Poetic Prompts to Choreograph,” and a bonus– the large 4 ft x 3 ft interactive “Dance Elements Daisy.”  30 teaching charts provide the enduring understanding that supports quality dance-making and the NCAS standards:  “The Process for Dance-Making” (7), “Tools To Use for Dance-Making” (15), “Beginning-Middle-End” (2), and “Foundation Structures” (6).   They are the worker bees while the creative catalysts are the queen bees.   Children broaden their movement and conceptual vocabulary simultaneously due to the mix of resources.  Some provide the strong conceptual base to ground understanding. Others are creative catalysts that activate the concepts in imaginative ways.  Emphasis is on inventing original movement and exploring the dance elements.  For example, the kit’s Dance Elements Daisy motivates creative problem-solving and dance-making by endlessly combining 100 mix and match dance elements options. The rich context built by the resources and activities enable a child to develop confidence when creating and the ability to express ideas through movement.   Publication date September 15, 2015.  Retail $299 USD includes free shipping.  Special  pre-publication orders taken ... read more
Dance Elements Daisy – Press Release

Dance Elements Daisy – Press Release

PRESS RELEASE August 26, 2015 DANCE ELEMENTS DAISY™  Dance Curriculum Designs www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com 803-754-7384   Dance Curriculum Designs announces the arrival of the innovative Dance Elements Daisy, designed to facilitate creative dance.  Geared to grades 1-6, this teaching catalyst serves elementary schools, private studios, and anywhere children’s dance is taught.   The purpose of the Daisy is to generate exploratory movement and emphasize unique expressions of intent. Dance elements are featured as the movement vocabulary in this standards-based resource.   The Daisy is a sturdy vinyl banner.  It has clear pockets over the center and petals that hold die-cut movement cards (pockets invisible on the image). 100 interchangeable cards invite teachers and children to place different intent cards in the center and petal-shaped cards around it to prompt movement exploration. Center intent cards direct the activity. Petal cards around it prompt problem-solving to find new ways to clarify and magnify the intent.   To create a Daisy Dance choose one intent for the center.  Explore it fully by way of the many surrounding petals.  Remembering the best moves, create a dance sequence based on the word arrangement. Begin and end in stillness to complete the dance.   The easy-to-use set consists of one 36″ x 42″ hanging banner and 100 interchangeable cards for exploration and dance-making (20 round intent cards, 80 interchangeable petals for movement invention and discovery).  This tool is one of the Contextual Learning Systems™ from DCD.  Comes with a useful six-page ideabook and  3 hangers.   Dance Curriculum Designs is excited to share this resource as a creative catalyst for elementary dance because of its uniqueness, innovation,... read more
CHOREOGRAPHIC IMPULSES (Press Release)

CHOREOGRAPHIC IMPULSES (Press Release)

PRESS RELEASE June 6, 2015   Brenda Pugh McCutchen (Dance Curriculum Designs LLC) announces a newly completed stanza book, CHOREOGRAPHIC IMPULSES to Explore, Improvise, and Abstract.  (Special pre-publication orders are taken until July 15 at 25% off.) Its 187 poetic impulses are expressly designed to stimulate original art-making on a wide range of topics.   The book’s artistic purpose is to inspire unique choreography, music compositions, visual arts, creative dramatics, and creative writing at high school, college, and professional levels.  Creative art-making ideas abound under five headings:  Nature and the World, Textures and Traditions, People and Places, Objects and Inspirations, Miscellany and Mischief.   Stanzas are to be enjoyed on their own, however their latent power is their burning desire to be transformed into new art works.  Each concise stanza offers a perspective from which to launch further artistic investigation on topics such as ADHD, Boardwalks, Cringing, Trombones, Thoroughbred, and Galaxies.  Share the news with other creative artists.   Choreographic Impulses is available to view at www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com.   197 spiral-bound pages in b/w with color pages (softback)   Price $49   ($36.75 Pre-publication Price through July 15, 2015 online)   Sample stanzas:             Grouch.                    Betrayal.     Ouch!  Piercing.          Relationship tested.  Flings   snide   insults. Stretched.  Mended. .Restored.      Every direction.           Longstanding trust            Stinging.                    Broken.... read more
Guest Blog:  The Hoped-For Impact of the New NCCAS Standards

Guest Blog: The Hoped-For Impact of the New NCCAS Standards

Introduction:    I invited Dr. Rima Faber to share her perspective as chair of the dance writing team for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards in order to give us insights into the vision behind the new NCCAS dance-arts standards. The team’s work was deliberate and collaborative, generating the best thinking in the field to date. The attention focuses on dance’s artistic processes and dance’s relationship to the world (creating, performing, responding, and connecting). Existing programs that are of the old model (performance-driven and product oriented) would do well to take this opportunity to upgrade to the kind of process-based education which has long been considered best practice…and which these standards embrace.   I particularly asked Dr. Faber to articulate the hoped-for impact of these new standards on educational dance today and to help us understand how they may inform our renewed efforts to re-envision more substantive K-12 dance programs in the United States. Here are her words. –B.McCutchen Guest Blog: “The Hoped-For Impact of the New NCCAS Standards” by Rima Faber, Ph.D. April 1, 2014 The new “National Core Arts Standards” developed by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards focus on the processes of arts-making which are housed in overarching Philosophical Foundations, Lifelong Goals, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Questions. While the dance standards in 1994 focused on learning content in seven different categories, these standards provide deep meaning in the processes of creating dance, performing movement (the “doing” of it as well as performance), responding to choreography (self-reflection as well as providing feedback or critique), and connecting dance to all life and learning.   It is hoped that learning... read more
Keys To Developing Dance Literacy

Keys To Developing Dance Literacy

=Part 1 in a series=    Keys to unlock dance literacy are found in holistic models of dance education.  One holistic and adaptable model proposes that six defining characteristics explain and guide dance content and instruction in K-12. Successful implementation in K-12 depends on these characteristics also permeating dance education teacher certification programs.  The 6DC model of educational dance is an acronym for “six defining characteristics.”  Each characteristic activates a significant aspect of dance as it should exist in education.  Until all six are actively engaged the curriculum will be insufficient and student learning will be incomplete.    This article spotlights two of the six characteristics in order to shed light on why they are essential to a complete dance education and as well as to literacy acquisition.         “Comprehensive and Substantive”  (Characteristics 1 & 2) COMPREHENSIVE   The first defining characteristic at the core of a complete K-12 dance curriculum is this:  content and instruction must be “comprehensive” – that is, broad, inclusive, and diverse.  Two phrases that encapsulate comprehensive curriculum are “far-reaching content” and “wide variety of skills.”  The quest for broad content and skills in dance education drive teachers to develop a 1) wide range of dance skills alongside 2) students’ growing understanding of dance as an art and vital mode of human expression.  To be comprehensive, teach a variety of dance styles so that by high school the variations within styles may be explored.   Comprehensive dance teaching and learning cultivates competencies in all four cornerstones of the dance discipline itself.  Students thus build diverse skills as a dancer-performer as a creator-choreographer as a dance historian-cultural anthropologist as an analyst-critic The cornerstone disciplines provide the content... read more
Join the Movement—the K-12 Educational Dance Movement

Join the Movement—the K-12 Educational Dance Movement

The New York City Department of Education and the New York City public schools partnership has made a significant impact on the quality of dance education in America.   Not only did they produce the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance, Grades PreK-12 in 2007 with an assembled cast of stellar educators, administrators, and artists, they now are able to show the results of having put this kind of far-sighted blueprint into action with a PBS special that features one of its public schools.   This week they air an important documentary, PS Dance–Supporting Dance for Every Child!  They write:  “Our new documentary about dance education PS DANCE! airs this Friday on THIRTEEN/WNET in New York at 10:30pm. After May 15, it will also be available for viewing online at http://thirteen.org/specials .  For us, it’s more than just a film, it’s a movement to get dance education in schools everywhere!  #danceforeverychild  This documentary will no doubt be a beacon to those who aspire to implement dance as a holistic educational and artistic subject in rigorous school-based programs.   With the documentary film and the Blueprint, they have the recipe to start a movement worldwide!  It’s high time someone did!   Don’t miss the film.  And if you want to share it with others after May 15, 2015, do so at the link above.   The Blueprint is a milestone for the NYC Department of Education but its ripples can be felt around the world.  NYC DoE shares it with the world through a link to the Blueprint website.  If you haven’t looked at it, please do.  It should be required reading for K-12 dance educators... read more
Choreography Resources

Choreography Resources

  The stanzas in Choreographic Impulses to Explore, Improvise & Abstract are open-ended creative catalysts.  It is up to you to decide what to do with them.  They were envisioned to stimulate choreography yet are equally effective for creative dramatics, visual arts, music composition, and creative writing.  (Why limit yourself?  Do them all!)   Stanzas emphasize one idea (one word) which directs the creative process and keeps intent clear.  Let that word title your creation and guide your artistic process. The nine-word diamante (diamond) offers a beginning-middle end structure that can serve as a guide for short creations. Permit creative work to be guided by design principles: unity, variety, transition. Allow punctuation marks to suggest whether to elaborate on a word (if followed by a period) or to cluster word cues (commas).   Let stanzas be points of departure that inspire original material in your art form. Challenge yourself to create abstract responses that do not precisely portray the idea of the stanza. For example, if dance is the goal, create a hint of the idea, capturing its energy, space, and timing rather than literally portray the idea (leave that to creative dramatics).  If you are an educator, use stanzas to sharpen compositional skills by incorporating criteria from the bulleted list below. Select one stanza and invite other creative artists to join with you in creating original work in different art forms; perform/show them together.   With 187 dragonfly diamantes in hand you won’t run out of creative ideas any time soon.  Return to stanzas you created earlier to discover new insights that present themselves–a joy of creativity and a delight... read more
Holistic Dance Characteristic #1:  The Comprehensive Dance Program

Holistic Dance Characteristic #1: The Comprehensive Dance Program

In our last blog post, We noted the tendency for people to blame others and play the victim. We found that a holistic dance curriculum based on democratic pedagogy puts students in a position to take responsibility for learning and for contributing to the learning community.   Today, We will look at Characteristic #1 of holistic dance education in K-12 and higher education: The Comprehensive Dance Program.   What does it mean to have a comprehensive dance education program?   A comprehensive dance education program is broad, spanning many facets of dance including: Technique Improvisation Composition Critique Kinesiology, Somatics, and Injury Prevention History, Anthropology Cultural Dance Forms Theatrical Terms   Why is breadth in dance training valuable?   I am reminded of the story about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Breadth requires zooming out in order to see the big picture: What is beyond my own understanding of dance? Is there a greater purpose beyond my own personal interests?   Reaching out to all edges of the dance discipline expands the dancer’s perspective and thus enhances his awareness of his place within the field. It is like looking at a map and seeing the red arrow that says, “You are here.”   What does a comprehensive dance education program look like?   Well, it looks like a huge forest! Flying over the forest in a helicopter reveals larger patterns like wooded pathways and aspects of terrain such as hills and valleys.   The same is true in dance – a holistic dance education program will explore all facets of the field to reveal larger... read more
The 6 Defining Characteristics of Holistic Dance Education

The 6 Defining Characteristics of Holistic Dance Education

“The 6 Defining Characteristics of Holistic Dance Education” By Julianna Hane, Guest Blogger Feb. 15, 2015   We live in a society where is it not uncommon for people to blame others for their problems. Dumping responsibility onto other people and playing the victim are all the new gimmicks for getting out of Dodge. Unfortunately, these quick-fix solutions not only harm others, but they eventually harm the individual. People who play the victim are susceptible to brainwashing, because they do not value thinking for themselves and making their own choices. So what’s a dance educator to do?   How do we solve this problem?   We as teachers can value students’ voices and show them how to think for themselves. We can demand that students take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions through democratic teaching.   What is democratic pedagogy?   It is a teaching philosophy that empowers students to think and speak for themselves while also being considerate of others. John Dewey believed in treating every student as morally equal, capable of forming intelligent opinions, and most effective when collaborating with others (MacMath, 2008).*   But won’t the kids get out of control?   While some might argue that allowing students to make choices for themselves is a passive approach to education, this philosophy is everything but. The teacher needs to structure the lesson so students get a say in aspects of their learning, but in way that is productive for everyone.   By guiding students to make choices relevant to the class context, students take responsibility. In other words, they own it.   What will the... read more
Transformational Teaching in Dance

Transformational Teaching in Dance

Article by  Julianna Gaillard Hane  (MFA, CLMA), January 2015    Our society is now experiencing the affects of information overload. Notifications and blinking lights bombard us 24/7. Anyone with a smart phone can find out just about anything they could ever want to know via the Internet.   If our students can access information anytime, then why even have school? What does a teacher offer that no other system can?   The answer is meaning or purpose (Rosebrough and Leverett, 2011).   Only a teacher can show students how to think for themselves and use information for a greater purpose. Only mentorship can inspire meaning in life.   Mentorship contains a very important ingredient that no form of technology will ever reach – the human element.   The education process is not a dumping of information into an empty vessel, but the nurturing of transformation, as in peeling away the layers of an onion to reach its core. This process is also known as transformational teaching.   What is transformational teaching?   It is a holistic model of teaching where goals for student learning are academic, social, and spiritual in nature. The teacher acts as part scholar, part relater, and part practitioner modeling ways of thinking, feeling, and discerning a life purpose (Rosebrough and Leverett, 2011).   In the dance studio, transformational teaching involves two primary processes: Solving a problem (thinking), and Reflecting on its meaning (feeling).   Take a look at this dance choreography unit on gossip and bullying.   Gossip and bullying stem from the human desire to belong. Each dancer will create a still tableau of... read more
Manipulative Ways to “Build Your Own Body”

Manipulative Ways to “Build Your Own Body”

  It was my pleasure to interview Anne Harris Wilcox at the Chicago National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) conference in November. This interview followed my discovery of the amazing life-size metal skeleton boards Anne created–and her colorful magnetic muscle attachments that overlay–which captivated everyone who walked by. These manipulatives interested both young and old as individuals gave in to the irresistible urge to pick up a clump of magnetized muscles and place them in just the right location on the skeleton. While some worked on the lateral skeleton panel, others worked on the anterior panel, all the while talking with Anne about whether their placements were anatomically correct. Not only did the resource itself act as a catalyst to engage, it also set up the informative interaction between “student” and teacher which directed and personalized the learning. And, not only is this inquiry-based problem-solving approach “magnetic,” the manipulative magnets also happen to draw people to them as well! Here is the interview which introduces you to this excellent new teacher resource. ~~Brenda Pugh McCutchen, Dance Curriculum Designs LLC   BPMcC: Anne, I notice no one can walk by without manipulating that metal board and the muscle groups. What led you to create such an engaging dance education resource?   AHW: Creativity sparks when a desperate situation presents itself. Several years ago, I was hired as a long-term substitute at a performing arts high school to teach Technique and Anatomy. I was the fourth consecutive substitute for these courses, and the Anatomy class was in especially bad shape. Students had lost all interest, and believed I was just another in... read more
2016 Dance Study-Abroad in Bali

2016 Dance Study-Abroad in Bali

  NOW BEING PLANNED! =“2016 Dance Study-Abroad in Bali”=   WANTED NOW:     University faculty who want to offer graduate level courses in Balinese dance, arts, and culture in May-June 2016.   Are you faculty at a college or university who dreams of offering a graduate level course in Balinese dance, arts, and culture? If so, contact Brenda Pugh McCutchen to work with you to plan, arrange, and host the on-site aspects of your study. Her insights into Balinese arts create an unforgettably rich immersion course with the kind of detail that is unparalleled. This study-abroad is ideal for graduate study or professional dance training. 15-day intensives are offered and can be planned at all technical levels.   Contact Brenda to solidify the dates that serve your group. McCutchen will arrange a complete 15-day study immersion package on the island which includes everything (lodging, food, classes, performances, admissions, excursions, tours, ground transportation, etc.) for approximately $2888 per participant. As “Group Coordinator” you are in charge of the group: you assemble your own group, assist with their travel to Bali, be the group liaison with Brenda, and be the professor of record for the graduate course to arrange the study.  As “Bali Coordinator” McCutchen plans and arranges all the artistic aspects of the trip, arranges for all teachers and class sessions, handles logistics and details on the island, provides the academic expertise to accompany the planned experiences, arranges special performances and relevant experiences, plans and schedules all travel while on the island, engages world-class artists, and meets you at the Bali airport with roundtrip service.     Only 2 groups can schedule during May-June, the preferred time.... read more
Reflections on the “Bali Study Tour 2014”

Reflections on the “Bali Study Tour 2014”

“Reflections on the “Bali Study Tour 2014” By Brenda Pugh McCutchen Dance Curriculum Designs LLC www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com June 29, 2014   The adventure to Bali has ended…..at least on the ground. But the memories of the adventure are fresh and alive with all who participated in it. It was called “a trip of a lifetime” by some, but that doesn’t begin to express the depth or the complexity of the adventures we embarked on as a group and as individuals.   This video is but an introduction to the group that assembled, bonded, and returned changed in ways cultural and artistic. They reluctantly left behind new Balinese friends, many of whom had shared lessons, performed for them, toured with them, transported them to fabulous warungs, explained mysteries about Bali, and became part of our daily mix of pleasures while in Bali.   In subsequent postings we hope to share some of our experiences and overall impressions of Bali as well as images which are lasting for us and the causes we now celebrate, such as protecting Balinese culture from the onslaught of the kind of tourism that trashes the land and cares less about the culture and its people who make it such a paradise. Our group did not go for surfing and yoga. We went to see underneath the seen to the unseen aspects of Bali that make it such a cultural and spiritual treasure.   In addition to this video, I’ve asked our group to share first hand experiences on our blog pages so that their voices are heard in the aftermath of the study tour, as it... read more
Musings about Pengosekan, Bali from 1996

Musings about Pengosekan, Bali from 1996

Today I’m introspective about my trip to central Bali in 1996. I’m remembering the day I bade farewell to the wonderfully adventurous group who accompanied me to Tabanan and Ubud. Rather than return to the US with them, I had arranged to stay another week in Bali moving from our group quarters up Jalan Hanuman down to Oka Homestay in Pengosekan village. That is where I would stay to further explore authentic Balinese culture on my own and share living space with the adventurous redheaded Czechoslovakian woman, Dunya. Oka Homestay was one of the most peaceful places on earth–if you discount the ever-present sounds in Bali—the cocks who crow at daylight and sentinel dogs who bark if strangers wander into family courtyards. But otherwise Oka’s compound was serenely sitting at what seemed to be the edge of civilization, overlooking vast green vistas of lush vegetation that overlooked coconut palms, rice terraces, gently sloping away to the sounds of nature, gamelans in the distance, and an occasional hollow sound of the kul-kul reverberating over the community from a long distance away. It felt like paradise. And I knew it was paradise when Oka’s wife, Dewi Gusti, brought breakfasts of fresh fruit and sticky, sweet black rice with a steaming pot of tea every morning.   Down the street I also danced with Dewa Gusti Raka every day ( a different Gusti). Gusti’s mastery of legong was phenomenal and her love of it was contagious. Being a high school teacher by profession, she was also quite patient as a dance teacher, lifting my elbows that drooped as I was focused on... read more
Balinese Balance and Harmony

Balinese Balance and Harmony

Brenda Pugh McCutchen August 25, 2014   Bali  is magical. For centuries it has conducted itself according to its world view as the naval of the universe, the keeper of peace in the cosmos.  Omnipresent rituals reenact forces of good fighting bitterly with malevolent forces which try to upset balance and peaceful co-existence. The Balinese wisely understand that good can never eradicate evil, yet the effect of positive can neutralize the threats of negative so as to achieve balance and harmony.   To truly visit is to look beyond the lush tropical beauty of rice terrace vistas outlined by coconut palms to find the unforgettable treasures in the people, their stories, and the arts. Both art and story intertwine in daily ceremonies and temple rituals where visitors can glimpse the unseen spirit world that interacts at all levels in the tight-knit communities.   To explore the layered Balinese heritage is well worth the effort as there is no place like it, especially for artistic stimulation and renewal of spirit.   Those who are willing to bypass the luxury resorts will find beautiful Balinese owned and operated hotels around the island that envelope one with invitation into the more authentic community.   Be prepared to notice how life revolves around family and the trust in what is sacred.  Notice the evidence of the spirit world everywhere–in the temple ceremonies, in the mask museum, on the stages, and in the daily presentations of canang to heap blessings on the tiny island and its people. To relish this culture, as well as to honor it, is to investigate the heritage, the stories,... read more
Blog:  Salute to Singapore Arts Education Conference

Blog: Salute to Singapore Arts Education Conference

Brenda Pugh McCutchen September 1, 2014   This is a story better told through pictures.   Singapore is certainly one of the most spectacular cities in the world.  In July 2013 Singapore’s education ministry assembled arts educators for their biennial arts education conference, the subject of this blog.  Find the highlights from the dance education experiences chronicled in the attached video presentation, “Salute to Singapore.” <Click the mustard-colored video cube to get a glimpse of it.>    For attendees and others who are interested, the links below access the text of my keynote address for dance and the Powerpoint slides that accompanied it.   Download Keynote Presentation   Download Keynote Slides that accompany it.... read more
Principals, Where Are the Dance Elements

Principals, Where Are the Dance Elements

Brenda Pugh McCutchen, author Teaching Dance as Art in Education (Human Kinetics: 2006)    With “literacy” being imperative in K-12 schools–and “holistic learning” a hallmark of education, why aren’t school principals paying more attention to what’s displayed on the walls of the dance studio (lab)? It’s surprising how many classrooms do not display the elements of dance as a basic reference for all aspects of teaching and learning in dance.   The elements of dance are as basic to dance education as the periodic table is to chemistry or the musculoskeletal charts are to learning body systems in the biology lab.  The basic elements are constant points of reference in education and best kept in plain view.  They need to be where the eye can regularly land on them so that insightful connections are made.   In every dance classroom the most significant vocabulary is the one that exposes the elements of human movement regarding the body, space, time, energy, and relationship (known as BSTER). Every artistic process in dance is based on using them—conceptually and kinetically.  Elements are the tools with which to create, to perform, to respond intelligently to dance, and to connect dance to broader contexts.   Elements are essential if dancers are to ever learn to think in universal, abstract terms about dance or to grasp its depth as art and human expression.   It is essential for students to embody the dance elements to understand the dimensions of movement, since movement is the medium of dance.     The BSTER dance elements=Dance is “the art of human movement,” not “the art of moves andsteps.”  Too... read more
Choreography Prompts for Movement Invention

Choreography Prompts for Movement Invention

CHOREOGRAPHY PROMPTS FOR MOVEMENT INVENTION By Brenda Pugh McCutchen April 18, 2014 Teachers of dance are always on the lookout for danceable topics that will stimulate innovative choreography. Finding a wide array of movement ideas is often elusive, especially topics that meet the diverse interests of our students. Our aim is to identify a variety of topics worth abstracting into dance so students find abundant opportunities to create original movement material. A variety of stimuli that sparks different textures and timbres of movement is very useful to developing movement vocabulary for choreography.   It is especially helpful for beginning choreographers to learn how to convey one topic clearly. The single topic dance is one we often overlook in our quest to teach choreographic skills. Alwin Nikolais stressed the importance of conveying one idea clearly without extraneous movements—and one idea presented in a concise, imaginative way can become a dance masterpiece. He insisted that students invent new ways to convey an idea in order to stretch their vocabulary, impose creative limits, and discover ways to make clear, intelligible dances. His sharp eye ferreted out the extraneous moves which he insisted be removed for clarity. As a result, the dances his students created were delightful as well as innovative. Unless students learn to convey one idea clearly and inventively, what hope do they have of conveying multiple ideas through such an abstract medium as movement and dance.   Gone are the days where pop music should be allowed as the inspiration for choreography in K-12. Pop music is an invitation for novice choreographers to string their favorite moves together and call... read more
Reflections on “Stop Start Tango”

Reflections on “Stop Start Tango”

Recently I received a video from Anton Hecht, Darlington, England, which I want to share with you because it is fun to watch, besides being creative and clever.  It could have been produced anywhere, but the film actually takes place in England at the Darlington Indoor Market.  It documents a project that Creative Darlington calls “Stop-Start Tango.”   I invite you to watch it and enjoy it.   Afterward, if you are inclined, maybe you will reflect about the experience with me and find what is memorable about it.  Is it the participants’ concentration, willingness, or their warmth and humanity even through their own insecurities?  Is it that they demonstrate that their egos are not too fragile to dance?  What does it say about individuals who are willing to participate in a project that is not about them?  What does it say about the role social dance could play in a civilized and civil world?  Does it make you wonder why there is such emphasis today on competitive dance which pits one against another in the name of eliminating everyone but the “best?”  For me, the collaborative Stop Start Tango was more satisfying than a competition. How about you?     What do you see in it?  I see an interesting juxtaposition between the formal dance and the informal aspects, between the fragments and the whole.  I see evidence that one’s inner confidence can transcend what s/he is actually doing.   I see how each person offers his dignity to the effort, as one by one they add unique stylistic personalities to the dance which give the dance texture.  The... read more
Six Defining Characteristics of an Excellent K-12  Dance Education Program

Six Defining Characteristics of an Excellent K-12 Dance Education Program

DANCE EDUCATION BLOG: “ KEYS TO DEVELOPING DANCE LITERACY” By Brenda Pugh McCutchen Dance Curriculum Designs LLC www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com December 3, 2013   =Part 1 in a series=   Keys to dance literacy are rooted in the 6 DC Model of Educational Dance. This model proposes that six defining characteristics (6 DC) be at the heart of dance content and instruction in K-12. These characteristic should also permeate dance education in higher education. Each of the six defining characteristics brings a significant aspect of the dance discipline to one’s education. Without all six fully functional, curriculum is incomplete and student learning is incomplete. Let’s spotlight two of the characteristics to see why they are essential to a complete dance education… and to dance literacy.   “Comprehensive and Substantive” (Characteristics 1 & 2)   COMPREHENSIVE   One defining characteristic at the core of a complete K-12 dance curriculum is that content and instruction be “comprehensive” – that is, broad, inclusive, and diverse. Two phrases that encapsulate comprehensive curriculum are “far-reaching content” and “wide variety of skills.” The quest for broad content and skills in dance education drive teachers to develop a wide range of dance skills alongside students’ growing understanding of dance as a vital art and mode of human expression. To be comprehensive, teachers explore a variety of dance genres so that by high school their stylistic variations may be explored.   Comprehensive dance teaching and learning cultivates competencies in the very cornerstones of the dance discipline. Students build basic and refined skills as a dancer and performer as a creator and choreographer as a dance historian and cultural anthropologist as an analyst and critic  ... read more
Blog: More on Dancing in Bali 2014

Blog: More on Dancing in Bali 2014

Dance in paradise with those who will share the techniques and beauty of classical Balinese dance forms.  Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions that spawned the dances that are performed for the gods in temple ceremonies throughout the island.  Gain personal insights into world religion and its expression in the arts.    Immerse yourself in the study of Balinese dance with an emphasis on mastering the thrilling techniques of classical Legong dance taught in its natural setting by world-class teachers.  Receive utmost care in training and the highest quality experience at the hands of these master teachers who are also practitioners.  Culminate the trip at the opening day event of the world-famous Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, where you will see perfected the dances from all over the island and the techniques you have learned performed in front of you with the utmost grace and skill by gifted dancers who represent the best each village has to offer. It is heavenly.  It will no doubt be one of the highlights of the Bali Study Tour 2014.   Spend hours watching some of the most exquisite dance forms in the world by seasoned performers as well as younger ones who have also mastered the detailed fine points of the art.  Marvel at how costumes are wrapped around the dancer, how makeup is added, and how the final touches appear through the fresh tropical flowers that dance as part of the ornate headdresses and elaborate costumes.  See for yourself how dance is still integrated, as it has been for centuries, into numerous ceremonial customs and temple events and how special dance is on... read more
Blog:  Bali Synchronicity

Blog: Bali Synchronicity

“Symposium on Performing Arts of Southeast Asia” Featured Adjacent to Our Bali Study Tour Dance Education Blog:  “BALINESE SYNCHRONICITY” By Brenda Pugh McCutchen Dance Curriculum Designs LLC www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com December 16, 2013   Time is said to be the enemy of the dancer: there are so few prime years to perform.  Therefore, it is good to periodically search out the uncommon dance experiences that shift our gears and thrust us, reinvigorated, into new directions.  As we mark off another year, perhaps we long to explore new worlds of dance that are completely out of the ordinary so as to shake off some of our habitual patterns. We look for dance that is profoundly enriching as well as the kind that stretches our world view of dance.  It is time to get serious about venturing into magical forms of dance with hypnotically entrancing movements and spell-binding music —the kind of dance whose ancient roots are deeply embedded in its culture. Those are the reinvigorating kind.   If you are ready to fly off to worlds unknown for something like this, here are two suggestions.   One is the “Study Tour of Dance in Bali” which Dr. Veronica Yockey and I lead from May 27-June 13, 2014.   The other is the performing arts symposium which Dr. Marcia Lloyd asks that I tell you about.  (Dr. Lloyd1, professor emeritus from Idaho State University, teaches dance education and dance for children at the University of Malaysia.  She is also a valuable link to Southeast Asian dance community.)  She and I believe this symposium will be stimulating.  We also believe it to be a... read more
Blog: 30 Reasons to Dance in Bali

Blog: 30 Reasons to Dance in Bali

“30 REASONS TO DANCE IN BALI” May 27-June 13, 2014 By Brenda Pugh McCutchen Dance Curriculum Designs LLC www.dancecurriculumdesigns.com January 1, 2014 30 Reasons to Dance in Bali:   Learn new dance forms from an exotic culture. Attend authentic dance performances every day. Take classes daily with seasoned artists and performers. Immerse yourself in Balinese culture, arts, community, values, and traditions. Visit dancers and artists in settings where they live and work. Absorb the glorious sounds of gamelan music. Take dance classes in outdoor bales of family compounds and in lovely surroundings. Stay in small local hotels that overlook green vistas and sculpted rice terraces. Explore the highest temple on the island of Bali where there are no tourists. Dress in Balinese batiks and temple clothing for special occasions. Learn to perform dances from the traditional Balinese repertory in an authentic setting. Learn how to wear the exotic dance regalia of the Balinese dance forms you learn, and dance in beautiful fabrics and accessories. Eat authentic Balinese cuisine every day. Learn to cook Balinese specialty dishes in our traditional cooking classes. Weave traditional bamboo offerings and decorate them with flower petals. Take lessons in related art forms that deepen your artistic experience in Bali. Visit the Agung Rai Museum of Art in Ubud to get an overview of the visual arts in Bali. Attend the opening day of the acclaimed “2014 Bali Arts Festival.” Visit the Neka Museum to appreciate the three main painting styles of central Bali. Walk through the sculpted rice terraces to grasp the intricate way water is shared throughout the island. Take in the mask... read more

Brenda Pugh McCutchen
Dance Curriculum Designs
Columbia, SC USA
803- 754-7384

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