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...
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...