Our first curly question about integrating dance practices (see previous blog post) is:
What is difficult about integrating practices of choreographing, performing and appreciating?
When I was teaching Dance Method at UNSW, students were asked to integrate practices to some degree in all written assignments (teaching strategies and resources, lesson plans and lesson units). Sometimes students found it difficult to understand what techniques and processes were constituent in the practices. Time and again, students would label anatomy and safe dance theory work as ‘appreciating’ in performance classes. The practice of ‘appreciating’ is not just theory or written work. And learning about anatomy and safe dance are theoretical aspects of the practice of ‘performing’, not appreciating per se.
So, let’s say that the most difficult thing about integrating practices is knowing what they are in the first place.
Three different hats – same head
The three practices of choreographing, performing and appreciating are not separate entities. They are just three interrelated facets of the art form of dance. When choreographing, students are essentially reflecting the role of the choreographer or dance maker. When performing, students are essentially reflecting the role of the dancer. When appreciating, students are essentially reflecting the role of the audience.
And these facets of the art form have blurred edges, both in theory and in the real world of professional dance.
Put on your ‘choreographing’ hat
When choreographing, students explore and shape developing movement ideas through improvising, selecting and structuring movement to communicate meaning and intention.
Should they apply understanding of physical and expressive qualities to their creative work, and refine the work through rehearsal (performing)? YES. Should they be able to analyse and evaluate their work and explain how their work relates to other work they and others have created and performed (appreciating)? YES.
Put on your ‘performing’ hat
When performing, students develop physical dance skills and expressive movement qualities. The acquisition of these skills requires practise, refinement and conscious application to dance works and styles.
Should they apply understanding of choreographic intention, style, phrasing and form to their performance of works (choreographing and appreciating)? YES. Should they be able to analyse and evaluate their performance work as it relates to other work they and others have performed (appreciating)? YES.
Put on your ‘appreciating’ hat
When appreciating, students develop skills in observing, describing, critically analysing and evaluating their own works and the works of others.
Should they apply understanding of physical and expressive qualities to their observations and analysis, and be able to recognise style, intention, structure and form (performing and choreographing)? YES. Should they be able to reflect on how dance artists make meaning in order to develop and refine their own movement ideas (choreographing)? YES.
So, I believe the most difficult thing about integrating dance practices is knowing what those practices are, or even knowing when your students have single or multiple coloured hats on.
In the next blog we’ll answer the question: What’s easy about integrating practices?