Academic Dance

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

I’m teaching dance at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The Upper School Dance Program has 2 sections, Beginner and Advanced. I see each section for 3 days a cycle- Ballet, Jazz and Modern. The sections cross once a cycle, when we do Pilates and work on choreography.

The academic set up is great for a dance class. Students get a half credit for performing arts and a half credit for PE. Which means I get to teach them not just technique, but theory and history. And I do enjoy theory and history!

With dance in a studio, especially at the high school level, you can assume the students want to be there. Not quite so here. Some students need the half art credit to graduate. Some do not want to take PE (Not that I blame them. I would have done the same thing!). Some want to dance. And they are all in one class together.

Teaching dance in an academic setting has other unique challenges. Like grading. I have no problem giving assignments. Or reviewing them. Or grading them. Children just seem to have a hard time doing them. I think my class has a lot more work than they expected in a dance class!

They also get graded on their participation. Meaning attendance and promptness counts. Also, apparently, a foreign concept to my students.

I’m a new teacher in the school world, despite my 10 years in the studio world. And it is definitely different! The school and I want to grow the dance program. So, I want it to be fun. I want the students to like coming to class, and enjoy their class time. But, I also want to hold them to high standards, academically and artistically.

It’s a fine line. Any advice is greatly appreciated.