“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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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,...