Teaching dance in tertiary institutions

Child protection

Children have a fundamental right to be safe while involved in dance, sport or associated activities and teachers need to be aware of their legal obligations.

Self and peer review in dance classes using personal video feedback

Many forms of formative feedback are used in dance training to refine the dancer’s spatial and kinaesthetic awareness in order that the dancer’s sensorimotor intentions and observable danced outcomes might converge. This paper documents the use of smartphones to record and playback movement sequences in ballet and contemporary technique classes. Peers in pairs took turns filming one another and then analysing the playback. This provided immediate visual feedback of the movement sequence as performed by each dancer. This immediacy facilitated the dancer’s capacity to associate what they felt as they were dancing with what they looked like during the dance. The often-dissonant realities of self-perception and perception by others were thus guided towards harmony, generating improved performance and knowledge relating to dance technique. An approach is offered for potential development of peer review activities to support summative progressive assessment in dance technique training.

Dance in higher education in the UK

Universities are not individually unique. They stand next to each other in the various hierarchies of excellence that are underpinned by commonalities of the various statures that they accrue in learning, teaching, research and a host of cultural and social impacts as are measured regionally, nationally and internationally. It is as we move toward closer international ties with our World Dance Alliance colleagues in higher education who work in dance that we look to our own ways and means with a view to revealing what we, in the UK, do in our delivery of dance to higher education students, and some of the constraints within which we work. With this in hand as a reference, we might then seek to discuss with our colleagues in other countries the many ways and means in which the similarities and differences have emerged from our various contexts as we all work towards inspiring the next generation of dancing graduates.

Undisciplined subjects, unregulated practices: dancing in the academy

This is a working paper in process. It is concerned with the changing status of disciplinary knowledges, in dance and performance, in Australian universities. Although I have been working as an academic within the fields of dance and performance studies for some twenty years, it is only relatively recently that I have begun to reflect critically upon the disciplinary identity of dance studies and dance research, and with some more concrete sense of how these endeavours might be engaged differently.

Transcultural perspectives on digital practices and the arts in higher education

Dance artists and educators from the Asia-Pacific region, America, and Europe discuss how emerging digital technologies affect the role of dance in higher education. Topics include: the creation of long-distance choreographic exchanges, digital curation projects with artists exploring relationships between mediatised performance and site-responsive work, and the impact of distance learning on re-imagining the locations and characteristics of dance audiences. Discussion revolves around possibilities for the digital world’s affect on how, and what we teach; its capacity to transform the message, medium, and reception of dance; and its contribution to the development of higher education programs and artistic futures.

Towards an understanding of liminal imagery in the digital domain

Many digital choreographers favour liminal imagery that aims to convey kinaesthetic sensation. I suggest here that this is not by chance. In the mid-nineties neuroscientists identified a collection of neurons named ‘mirror’ neurons. They discovered that the same neurons are activated when we watch and when we engage in an action. They suggest that it is through the ‘resonance behaviour’ of these neurons that we become attuned to the significances embodied in others’ actions and attain kinaesthetic empathy. In this paper I suggest that it is through such ‘resonance behaviour’ that the sensuous effects of liminal digital imagery might be generated.

En place: choreographic investigations of the dancer’s awareness of ballet form

In this paper I discuss the development of compositional methods in ballet and draw on my research into choreographic processes that have focussed on somatic awareness of ballet principles and their pedagogic underpinnings. Both Balanchine and Bournonville’s legacies offer compelling evidence of the symbiotic relationship between the development of academic and choreographic form in ballet (Crow/Jackson 2007). Sylvie Fortin (2003) contends that cross fertilisation between somatic and dance practice fosters individual creativity. Arguably ballet, which is defined by robust repertoire and principles, offers an apt model for investigating a choreographic pedagogy that also accounts for the somatic experience of the dancer. In the discussion, I use the example of a ‘shared’ solo from my recent choreography In the Reveal (2007) to consider the layering of personal and shared histories, multiple authorship and the somatic challenge to traditional methods of ballet creation. I reflect on a parallel approach in my teaching that draws principles of ballet spatial grammar, which I have conceptualised as frameworks for exploration of movement and expression. The ‘first person’ dimension and focus on principles shifts the emphasis in choreographic exploration away from the plastique or ‘what the body can do’, towards an inter-relational construct of the dancing as flow between sites of knowledge. The paper moves towards articulating the compositional methodologies emerging from the dancer’s personal dialogue with ‘objective’ ballet texts.

Changing repetition: a ‘practice as research’ study on dialoguing, drawing and dancing

What insight into the knowledge of the body can a study on dancing, dialoguing and drawing bring? This study looks at two teacher-artists undertaking a pilot project that involves spontaneous dialoguing whilst engaging in the process of drawing and dancing. The study firstly investigates the impact of the relationship between attention and intention in the execution of physical movement and applies it to the media of drawing and dancing. The study then explores questions about knowledge held in the body, intersubjective relationships and pedagogical implications which emerge as a result of lived experience. Written from the dancer’s perspective, this paper takes a non-dualistic stance in terms of mind and body and the writing style alternates between the conversational and theoretical. Two preliminary studies were carried out prior to this project. The first was a collaborative practical workshop between a fine art teacher at a secondary school in London and me. The second was another collaborative study, carried out informally in a practical studio setting with a life drawing artist and Tai Chi teacher who painted as I danced. The writing which follows has focused on the relationship and insights gleaned from subsequent work with this second teacher/artist.

Dancing doctorates down-under?

Assessment frames the focus of this paper, which emerges from our collaborative research, Dancing Between Diversity and Consistency: Refining Assessment in Postgraduate Degrees in Dance, funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC). We examine the attributes of danced ‘doctorateness’, giving special attention to those factors in the Australian environment, which may endow resilience to concepts of excellence, independent thinking and originality when kinaesthetic knowledge becomes pivotal to research. Have the small pool of examiners and relationships between academia and the professional artistic environment shaped these doctorates in a particular way? Can these perspectives illuminate and forge parameters by which to legitimate danced insight? These and related issues are interrogated giving voice to supervisors, research deans, candidates and industry professionals across Australia who participated in this research project.

Rethinking dance writing

This presentation begins with the question: ‘how might language crease and fold from dance practice?’ Writing is conceptualised as a form of translation that rises up and into the mobile weight of movement, offering creative and documentation strategies that directly interweave with choreographic, collaborative and improvisatory processes. Examples of and methodologies for writing that emerges out of dance will be drawn from the development and performance of the duet, The Little peeling Cottage (Longley and Smith 2007). Research draws on the dancing/ writing practices of Simone Forti (Forti 1974; 2003; 2006); Brian Massumi’s parables on transition and sensation as modalities of philosophy (Massumi 2002); and Gayatri Spivak’s writing around the politics of translation (Spivak 2000).

Enhancing learning in dance technique through online-mediated reflective practice

‘Practice makes perfect’ expresses the common misconception that repetitive practice without appropriate feed-back will deliver improvement in tasks being practised. This paper explores the implementation of a student-driven feedback mechanism and shows how functional and aesthetic understanding can be progressively enhanced through reflective practice. More efficient practice of clearly understood tasks will enhance dance training outcomes. We were looking for ways to improve teaching efficiency, effectiveness of the students’ practice in the studio and application of safe dance practices. We devised a web-based on-line format, ‘Performing Reflective Practice’, designed to augment and refine studio practice. Only perfect practice makes perfect!

Cambodian dance education

Cambodian classical dance once served strictly religious and ritualistic purposes. When the Royal University of Fine Arts was re-established after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the emphasis shifted to one of entertainment in a time of renewed hope and expectations. The surviving masters maintained the time honoured practices and programs were implemented to support their efforts. The struggle between the two worlds deepens with the increase of international tours, the influx of tourism, and young artists beginning to experiment in contemporary dance. This paper will look at how the approach to dance education in Cambodia needs to adapt to these changes while maintaining and honouring its traditional values and heritage.

Creating and sustaining a basis for life-long learning in tertiary dancer training

This paper acknowledges the influences that a generation Y population brings to dance training methodologies and examines this impact in a tertiary context. Over the last 4 years, Queensland University of Technology has been modifying their curriculum for new students transitioning from the private dance studio into the prevocational university environment. An intensive training program was designed to empower the student, creating effective entry points for common understandings in the learning and teaching of dance techniques with improved and accelerated learning outcomes. This paper shares these philosophies and practices in training for life-long learning that prepare the young dancer for longevity in the industry.

Starting from here: dance in higher education from the inside out

Starting from here explores the realm of interconnected experiences that exist in the study of dance as a site of emergent learning, embedded in the practice of ‘becoming’ and framed by the expanding field of everyday aesthetics. The paper explores a collection of ideas which frame the disciplinary condition, made evident through current practice in the UK. The paper explores some of the ongoing translations of dance as a discipline of study, and articulates potential future disciplinary intersections in the context of ongoing social, economic and political turbulence.