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...
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...