National Dance Week is approaching ( April 25-May 4, 2008 ) and if you haven’t already, now is the time to decide how you’re going to celebrate! Obviously if you’re visiting this blog, you probably have an interest in dance and may already feel like you are immersed in its practice. However, there are lots of ways you can observe this special week that will enrich your own or your school’s dance experience. And who knows, they may even spill over into the rest of the year, too!!
Sometimes in movement classes we are so focused on learning dance that we forget that appreciating and understanding the art form is just as important. Of course, we learn to appreciate through doing, but here are some other ways to discover and embrace dance during National Dance Week and beyond.
- See dance – Attend or watch videos of professional performances (it doesn’t matter if it’s a style you are studying) or view video biographies of dancers/choreographers. If there are no opportunities to attend a professional performance, try a local university with a dance program or a community group that performs ethnic dance forms.
- Discuss dance – Share observations about a performance, dance artist, or a significant event in dance history with your class, your friends, your peers, or your family. An in-class discussion is great if you’ve experienced something as a group.
- Write about dance – Write a review or report about what you observed about a performance or learned about a particular dancer, company, or choreographic work. You could share these with your dance class, in school, or even on your own blog.
- Read about dance – There are lots of books and online resources on dance history, dance vocabulary and technique, biographical texts, and dance criticism (reviews of dance performances).
- Make dance – Try your hand at your own choreography, guide your students through the basics of composition, produce your own dance performance (don’t forget to consider costume, makeup, and lighting if available), or share your knowledge of dance with someone else who has never experienced it.
Another important way to celebrate National Dance Week is to reach out to the community. Many dance studios perform at local festivals, parades, and other events in honor of NDW. Some other methods of reaching out would be to hold free classes or an open house at your dance school, perform at nursing homes or hospitals, or give workshops at public schools or boy/girl scout meetings. Perhaps you could also organize volunteering opportunities for your dance studio during this week. Activities like road clean-up, serving at a soup kitchen, or collecting canned goods for a food bank, reflect that dancers, in addition to giving the gift of their art, seek to improve and strengthen their communities in other ways.
As we lead up to NDW, I want to discuss in more detail how teachers can celebrate by incorporating a little dance history, performance, and discussion into their classes; help you build a dance library for your school; and address why all of this is worth the effort.
What are some ways that you have celebrated National Dance Week? Is there anything you’d add to my list above?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.