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...
How Do You Teach Modern Dance Techniques?

How Do You Teach Modern Dance Techniques?

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

Personalizing Dance History for Tweens and Teens

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