Monday, 9 October 2017

A change in perception

Through my research, interviewing and field data I had not anticipated a change in my own thoughts and mind. With my focus being primarily on whether dancers require exams and competitions to help them towards a professional route, my eyes have been opened through conversing with other like minded professionals. I was aware of the benefits of exams; qualifications, technique, accuracy, structure, precision the list goes on...Competitions however contain so much more than I had ever considered. Yes, performance experience which is essential for auditions and professional work. I had not however thought about learning to take criticism, learning that you may not be liked by everybody and this all depends on that particular judge (as in auditions!), coping backstage with last minute changes, costume malfunctions, nervousness, mind blanks, vocabulary and terminology, being 'on the road' and travelling, working together as a team or coping individually, all are skills that are preparing you for an industry that requires all of these necessities to cope and succeed. They challenge the fight or flight mode within us where essentially we sink or swim and competitions and these types of performances challenge these aspects within our character. Therefore competitions allow for character building as well as performing in front of an audience and coping with this pressure. This journey has allowed me to consider the benefits of competitions in much more detail and I can say that I have learnt so much off my interviewees that has changed my perspective.

Via the Skype chat on Friday evening, I realised through conversing how many students are 'spoon fed' with material, choreography, ideas and thoughts to help them develop their own skills. It is now a challenge of mine to help my students move forwards in this area, to help them develop their  exploration of movement and creativity to produce more rounded individuals as opposed to those that need to be given choreography (again, in an industry where freestyle is frequently required, this will help assist in a professional pathway). Again this also allows for opportunities to experiment with movements that perhaps we did not know they were capable of, it allows opportunity for them to demonstrate their ideas and what they feel they would be good at, enhancing enjoyment as well as encouraging our minds to think and work together to produce. I have perhaps been guilty of 'spoon feeding' due to time constraints and working under pressure for competitions and shows, but at the same time, I think it is important to help tomorrow's future of dancers to yes be good at what they do, but also to not be afraid of creativity and difference.


  1. My inquiry is about the student's ownership of the learning process. I try to understand how we interact with our students and how that has an impact on the learning process itself. Who is responsible for the learning? What allows a student to take over? ... So, for the past months and the following months I am constantly reflecting on this subject. I realised this week that I stop reflecting in a class as soon as I feel that I have to get through my lesson plan. I want to see my students instantly apply corrections and move forwards. So, yes, I believe that due to time constraints, we can tend to 'spoon feed' our students, even though it isn't our intention. I think it is very important to constantly remind you that it is important to take time. The learning process is long and sometimes tedious process. But as you say, to stop 'spoon feeding' is so improtant if we want our students to develop creativity, critical thinking, and a feeling of ownership.

  2. This is so interesting! I have too been thinking about the "spoon feeding" aspect of my teaching, how perfectly timed your post is! I have been dwelling on the students that I teach on the pedagogy course compared to my pupils at a lower level. The younger pupils do not participate in exams, and so I feel that I have more time to work on different aspects over the year. The student teachers have been without a doubt been "spoon fed" by me in the past. With a very limited time (16 hours) to teach them how to teach ballet to an age group from 4-19 years (set by the government not me!), I really feel the pressure of what to teach them to begin their careers. The set of students I have now, I have taken a completely different route, due to reflecting on my practice and having the courage to try something new. I'm still in the stages of "finding out" what I am trying to accomplice, but it has allowed me to "open up" and not "spoon feed" these soon to be professionals. It is exciting and I'm quite engaged in the whole process. Just being aware of this element of my teaching is not something I've thought about before. I'll let you know how it goes! Sam

  3. Teaching creativity to students is something I've been working with my dancers on in modern class these last two months. What I find odd is they're very resistant to the idea. They *want* to be spoon-fed--maybe because it's easier, or because they're used to it? I would think the creativity and chance to let loose a bit would be a fun thing for them.

    Regardless, like you say, it's so important for their careers, so I'm pushing through. But it's definitely not an easy thing to convince students that they do need to actually cultivate their creative voice, not only for their careers, but for their own practice in general.

  4. Hi Rebecca, Sorry somehow I couldn't read any of your blogs. what you are thinking makes sense. I feel, in my dance form creativity in young dancers could be harnessed only after 6-7 years of initial training as we follow a particular text with lots of rules and strict framework. But yes, teacher plays a viral role in cultivating the creative voice.