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...