Perceive creative free dance as void of ‘real learning’
Parents perceive creative free dance as void of ‘real learning’
Upon hearing the words ‘creative’ and ‘free play’ in a dance class, there is a tendency to imagine children running around in circles imitating dance.
Many parents may not be able to understand what more their 2 year old toddler can do while for a 4 year old pre schooler, it sounds rather basic. If such activity is the core of the dance or ballet class you are in it shows a lack of original thought, purpose and planning.
I think it's most important to form an understanding of the teaching methodology by participating in trial classes and discussing the philosphies with a teacher or their staff to discover how they balance creativity and dance technique with modern teaching styles.
However, a dance class that just focuses on the repetitive learning of steps week after week isn’t inspirational or creative either. Learning dance steps is important, but is only one element of a well planned class and should be approxiamtely 1/5th of the class content.
I think it's essential that each class is different yet purposeful.
The class plan that I write is basically an architectural structure for experiences to occur within. This structure forms the boundaries to hold space for a roller coaster ride of highs and lows and loop-the-loops; taking children on a journey of dance discovery. From here I pitch the class to the level of the children in the class. The children are moving through the fundamental movement phase of motor development, of which there are three stages and the class provides a plethora of content to instruct, challenge and inspire in the areas of locomotor, fine motor and stability movement.
The class structure gives the dancers freedom to creatively push the boundaries of what dance can possibly mean to them, whilst preparing them to moved into the specialised movement phase for modern dance, classical ballet, gymnastics or sport.
Free dancing is an essential component of all our classes; whilst the children are expressing themselves wholeheartedly in movement, we are assessing their progress. If they do run around in circles, or dance the same way, on the same level, at the same speed, only using their distal ends, consistently, it’s a clear sign that we need to adjust the class content or how we present it to the children.
Being free in dance is why we dance. It means being free to express joy, free to use humour, free from undue pressures, free to share stories, free to draw on from any of life’s experience.