Continuing my series on how dancers, teachers, parents, and schools can celebrate National Dance Week in meaningful ways that will endure beyond this small portion of the year, this post is about watching and discussing dance.
In an earlier post, I suggested that one way to celebrate NDW is to go see dance in order to better appreciate the art form you are practicing. But, watching, understanding and appreciating dance takes practice, too! The Arts Alive website offers some important things to remember as you set out to watch dance:
- If you are a dance aficionado, go to see dance.
- If you have never seen a live dance performance, try it out.
- If you are unsure about it, start with something more familiar.
- If you have seen one show and you hated it, don’t be discouraged.
When watching dance, remember that there are no rules as to how you should interpret, experience, or feel about what you see. Everyone in the audience may see or digest the dance differently, so there is no right or wrong. Allowing yourself the freedom to just observe a performance will alleviate the pressure of having to “get it.” Here are some ideas on what to look for, notice, and ask yourself during a dance performance.
The next step in understanding dance is to discuss what you saw. Teachers (or family members) can facilitate discussion by asking questions about elements of the performance or the student’s experience. Here are some links that include ideas for types of questions one might ask:
I have taught in many private dance studios and I am continually surprised at how little the students have ventured beyond their dance bubble to actually witness the art form they study. Competitions and even conferences are helpful but exposure to the wider world of dance is, in my opinion, crucial to understanding, appreciating, and developing a life-long passion for dance. A process that will, in turn, improve a student’s drive and commitment to his/her study.
In a somewhat related post, the Dance Theater Workshop blog asks “How do you bring new people to dance?” These methods can also be used to encourage students and parents to see more dance. Check it out!!
Have you ever been to a dance performance and felt unsure or confused about what you were watching? Do you see many professional performances as part of your dance education? How do you get your students to watch more dance? Does your studio encourage students to attend performances or see dance, why or why not?
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.