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 Post subject: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2000 7:29 pm 
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I am a teacher studying towards a dance degree and at present researching for an essay on the subject of expanding a syllabus.<P>It would assist my research if any of your would be willing to share a few ideas on how you expand any given set syllabus to incorporate 'creating, performing and appreciating'. Smith - Autard's "Midway Model" is the prime focus of reflection, however, I am not concerned with this but would appreaciate different view points.<P>How do you expand a set plie exercise to incorporate these things. How do you expend Grands Battements, Centre Ports de Bras, or Allegro ?<P>Perhaps a good discussion line will be opened and as teachers we can share ideas here on this dance site.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 12:02 am 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Perhaps a good discussion line will be opened <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>i THINK so, tip toes!!! Image thank you for this one - could run for ever! <P>and i'm wondering why the gods are smiling on me with 3 new wonderful posters in THE STUDIO over the last 3 days - we must be doing SOMETHING right! Image and you're from new zealand - another area i had personally been feeling a strong need to attract input from...<P>to all you others out there: now we need some south americans and africans..our present make-up is american, australian, canadian, english, in that order, as the largest groups....plenty of room for more, so please spread the word! Image<P>getting back to your topic: i am completely unfamiliar with the model you mention, and while i realise it is probably far too complex to go into here, i wonder if you could give us any hints, a brief outline, perhaps?..i bet this subject will interest Tuk also.<P>i really don't want to send this excellent question in the wrong direction...but i might just hazard that often i would expand an exercise downwards or backwards, by which i mean: having identified a technique-development issue/problem/area of need, i then ponder how it can be addressed within this or that exercise, or within all of them! Image<P>i say 'downwards' or 'backwards' to mean that this isn't a way to make it harder/more sophisticated/more complex, but just the opposite - a way to improve what's already in the exercise....the issue of 'expanding' an exercise in the sense of making it more complex is a much easier one to address, i think....<P>one question to help me NOT get too far off track: the 'creating, performing, appreciating' phrase: i assume these are the syllabus keywords? -for the whole dance syllabus, not just the ballet technique syllabus? and you are trying to inject cohesion, so the ballet technique syllabus reflects these values, as well as the dance history module, say and the whatever-else-module, within the dance stream - is that kind of correct?<P>welcome, btw! Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 1:23 pm 
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Thank you Grace for your reply !<BR>I was reluctant to get too academic about this as what I am trying achieve here is what could well be achieved by sending out a questionaire. Yes and no answers would be too black and white, peoples opinions formed through experience, both negative and positive, will not only aid my research, but also help others who read your forums to better themselves as teachers.<P>Jacquline M. Autard - Smith has written books "The Art of Dance in Education" and "Dance Composition". It is the content of the former with which I working. Hopefully the table below will answer your question.<P>Autard - Smith discusses a "Midway Model" of Teaching:<P>Process + Product<P>Creativity, Imagination, Individuality <BR>+<BR>Knowledge of public artistic conventions<P>Feelings, Subjectivity + Skill, techniques<P>Principles + Techniques<P>Open + closed<P>THREE STRANDS - Composition, Performance, Appreciation OF DANCES leading to ARTISTIC EDUCATION, AESTHETIC EDUCATION, CULTURAL EDUCATION.<P>The elements preceeding + are seen as EDUCATIONAL and the elements following + are seen as professional. The MIDWAY MODEL is it says , stands in the middle of these.<P>Take an examined set syllabus. No matter what organisation a teacher is affiliated to a set syllabus is a set syllabus. Ponder for a moment on the syllabus you are best familiar with, preferably a Grade syllabus. Clinically that syllabus is a series of exercises performed to the same music for the required period of study. How does the reader expand this syllabus so the student is not bored, does not look bored and is performing his / her 'socks off' by the time the examiner comes to visit. <P>Grace your 'expanding' an exercise in a way to improve what is already in the exercise is what I am looking at. That may well be achieved ( I do this often ) by making it more complex then retracting to the more simple version.<P>Let the discussion continue. So what if we get of the track a little. We often hear how students should be 'thinking dancers'. It is equally important teachers should be thinking teachers.<P>Thank you again<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 3:00 pm 
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great explanation. can't wait to see tuk dive in here!<P>i am a touch befuddled by the 'table' - which is not surprising, as such things are always meaningful to those who have 'read the whole book', but not to others. however, that may just be worthy of a discussion thread on it's own.....<P>i agree with this: <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>'expanding' an exercise in a way to improve what is already in the exercise - - -may well be achieved ( I do this often ) by making it more complex, then retracting to the more simple version. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>to give a 'concrete' example, so that others who are less familiar with curriculum jargon are still happy to participate, recently i noticed that students doing a syllabus tendu exercise were not really fully stretching their knees (or 'behind' their knees), so i added ankle-flexion within the set exercse, then later removed it (back to the set combination).<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>It is equally important teachers should be thinking teachers.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>i noticed yesterday at one of our new member's dance school sites, that she has a paragraph to parents, about how her teachers are all always involved in ongoing professional development, and that if they choose to go to another studio, they might ask the question there: are your teachers doing ongoing training? good one! Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 3:08 pm 
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another answer!: one syllabus i work with is unquestionably too complex for the ages and stages of the children to be able to perform it with good technique (don't ask WHY i teach it - that's a whole OTHER story! Image ).<P>anyway, with THAT one, i always want to go back to basics. to break it right down, like vaganova stages of exercise development. one step at a time, one action at a time.<P>just yesterday i was thinking about how the students are skimping on chassés, because they learned them in this syllabus, within an enchainement, where they were a linking step, so got superficial attention.<P>i want now to go back to an analysed version, making the demi-plié and the transfer of weight blindingly apparent, one step at a time, before letting them do it at a 'proper' speed again.....they'll hate me for it i suppose, but i can't bear seeing things done badly, and i just really feel that this (particular syllabus) is not the way to teach.<P>another thought is that the RAD sometimes have two different pieces of music for the same exercise (one for each side at the barre) to encourage the student to listen and to perform to THAT music, not just to counts, or to the expected rhythm - i rather feel that there isn't enough variation in the two pieces of music to be really challenging....but it's a great idea.<P>tuk or antoP may be able to add more thoughts on this...

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 8:00 pm 
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When you say performing in your description of three things you are aiming to include, with creating and appreciating. Do you mean performing in a ballet class in a syllabus? Is that something you want to happen. I am wondering what this means and whether it is a good thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2000 8:25 pm 
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At the base of this problem is the need to humanize what is mechanical in nature.<P>The set syllabus is a mechanical entitiy, it exists to teach the mechanics of the required movement not to embrace the art or the individual. This is the challenge to the teacher who is using the syllabus.<P>If we can first agree that the syllabus is written with an end product in mind, then we can surmise that it is also designed with a specific body type best suited to execute the movement. So can we then say that a syllabus is based on an ideal. This is all very mechanical and does not factor in physiological differences nor does it address the creative or artistic element. It is simply a "to do" list.<P>I like very much the comments made about the "thinking teacher" .......this is the teacher who will look at the mechanics and structure into the lesson a more human, creative, individualistic approach.<P>I suggest that we can go beyond expanding the exercise so that it is more complex...that is simply adding more mechanics. We must appeal to the artist and the art within. <P>Hmmmm now I am wondering if I have painted myself into a corner, as it is not enough to point out the obvious without suggesting some kind of solution.<P>Perhaps the answer is in not allowing the student to execute an exercise in a mechanical way, simply doing what is required and no more. We should maybe examine how kinetically they are moving through the exercise, what detail is missing, do we have something conrete that they can relate the simple movement to, perhaps adding character to quality or being a little more open to self expression.<P>This is surely a subject we can chew on for a while & I promise not to contradict myself too often.<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 1:10 am 
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welcome rabbit! this must be my lucky week in terms of meeting new & interesting posters! (i've never heard of fernie, btw).<P>i especially like the bit about 'painting yourself into a corner'! i noticed there were only 2 or 3 paras to go, and wondered how you were going to 'get out' of this one, in such a short space! Image<P>angelica, i'm glad you asked that question: i would like to hear others thoughts on this. rabbit approached the topic, but i felt that s/he was talking about the older dance student, rather than the young ones...? (maybe not intentionally).<P>my personal feeling is that dance class is to 'work' at, not to 'play' at - but that's because my frame of reference is ballet class. if i was teaching creative dance, i'd be of a different mind. <P>so what i am getting at here is, i don't want students to perform in their ballet class, it's not about external appearances to entertain others, it's about internal focus in order to attain skills.<P>it is lovely, of course, to watch a finely crafted presentation class - perhaps an end-of-term demonstration, where the focus is on displaying what HAS been acquired, rather than on actually (right there in that moment) acquiring anything new into one's repertoire....but i don't think most classes should be this way.<P>if you WANT to make them this way, then one way is to introduce less common movements, including those which change directions or levels, and those which move away from and back to the barre - for example: <P>- a waltz away from & back to the barre, perhaps a waltz turning along the barre,<BR>- finishing an exercise in a kneel facing your audience (away from barre),<BR>- maybe a pas de basque away from the barre, something returning like a glissade, with a relevé to a finishing pose.<BR>- changing directions or sides within the exercise - change of eye focus is very necessary to give a sense of performance.<P>there are any number of ideas one could come up with in order to become more 'choreographic' as it were, in class - but choreographic experimentation is not usually the purpose of ballet class...(nor is 'performance, in my view...)<P>an intermediate stage might be the examination class, especially at major level - where what one has acquired by working with the exercises, must then be displayed as performance, and this transition from the complete work ethic to the performance one doesn't happen without being cultivated - so this is an area where i can agree that there is a challenge to move from one way of doing it (perhaps) to another. but my feeling is still that the well-trained dancer will perform major-level exercises pretty much as if they were performance pieces anyway - with dynamics, musicality, even facial differentiation of 'mood' (at least on a good day!) Image<P>hope it doesn't seem i'm contradicting myself, but i don't want to go on and on, before others chime in..... Image<P>rabbit: i very much appreciate your different approach to analysing the problem....<P>readers here may also find this thread of related interest - it's about the effects of teaching to a timeline, with or without a standardised 'outside' syllabus: <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000077.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000077.html</A>

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 5:34 am 
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This is from the other side of the fence. I do not teach a set syllabus but am strongly Vaganova based, especially in the beginning years. I really am enjoying this thread, especially Rabbit's input. *S* I tend to expect my students to be able to understand and appreciate all forms of movement and find the joy (sometimes other emotion) within. Exposing students to guest teachers, touring companies performances, and appreciation of OTHER artistic forms such as music, art, drama is a critical part of their overall dance education. This additional work takes place outside the studio/class itself, but my students who take the time and money to pursue these "field trips" are better dancers because of it. I feel it is part of my job to make this information on other performances/classes available to them and encourage them to attend. In addition I feel that if you are choosing to use a set syllabus, you must take the time to educate yourself on other syllabi in order to explain the subtle differences and why you chose the particular syllabus you use so students can appreciate what they are learning.<BR>Students do tend to get bored with the standard barre exercises, centre work, the focus, etc. etc. As I'm not oriented with one particular syllabus I have a bit more freedom to incorporate the occassional odd piece of music for barre (whether it is jazz, new age or aboriginal) and I use the same approach with variations on a theme type of situation. (i.e. x the floor exercise done over and over and over to various types of music or showing various emotions) Sometimes students are given barre homework where each dancer has to provide one barre exercise for the following week--this way they must use their own creativity, and of course it gives the teacher insight on the students' view of different exercises. To keep my students' interest I find it is really important that they actually learn one new thing each week--this is not as insane as it sounds! *S* I don't mean they need to learn a new step each week, but they should definitely learn something that makes it more real for them, such as how a pointe shoe is made, what Pavlova danced in, what ballet a certain piece of music is from, or why Russian stages were always razed. (sp?) At any rate students need to learn more than just the movement in order to inspire them, regardless if you are syllabus based or not, students need to learn why, how, where, when and who about dance just as they would with any other school subject.


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 6:01 am 
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ah! jan - that dreadful curriculum word 'context'! ......... Image<P>only groaning a bit because, having written a secondary school year 11 & 12 ballet curriculum, where it was required to pop up all the time, it got to be a bit of a tired joke!<P>the cultural context, social context, the historical context, etcetera....<P>you sound like you do an ace job as a teacher, i must say! Image<P>love the bit about ballet homework!<P>i agree that one new thing each week is a good thing to aim for - i probably don't always achieve it...i actually noticed someone at another board talking about how they don't let their kids go on, until they have 'got' one thing....a step otr whatever she is teaching - that she doesn't move on till they can do it either alone or with minimal prompting.....this made me think. i feel i help too much, always willing to prompt, to drop hints, to demonstrate, to talk them thru an exercise - i must stop doing this!<P>it really frustrates me when you ask them to do one step by its french name - which you KNOW they learned inside out and backwards at exam time - and have everyone stand there staring blankly at you. i'm talking about familiar steps - things they do all the time.<P>i know they know the step, but they aren't thinking, or connecting brain to body in the class - i think i've helped far too much, and should back off and be more 'demanding' in the sense of insisting they take more responsibility for their own work. the ages i'm talking about here are 10 to 12-ish. funnily enough, the younger ones are more clued-in (for me, at the moment) and the older ones are serious enough to really apply themselves and take an interest...<P>but there's a middle age bracket where they just seem to go mentally lazy on me! Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 6:31 am 
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1st to Grace:<BR> You were right in stating that I was thinking in terms of the older student.<P>TIp-Toes:<P>RE: " Clinically that syllabus is a series of exercises performed to the same music for the required period of study. How does the reader expand this syllabus so the student is not bored, does not look bored and is performing his / her 'socks off' by the time the examiner comes to visit. "<P> Keeping in mind that thw work is not to be taken as chroegraphed exercises for the sake of "prettying up" the look of the student as this infers that technical efficiency is sacrificed to aesthetics.<P>Lets contemplate keeping the mechanics intact and still adressing the question as stated above.<P>Some suggestions:<P>Taking the movement out of context / taking the student out of their comfort zone.<P>It has already been invented...Floor barre.... as a way to relate the mechanics while freeing the mind and body of strain.<BR>Perhaps used every third or fourth lesson then applied to the barre.<P><BR>Doing the exercise once in parallel then repeating turned out...very good for the body...again the student must reconsider the mechanics of what is desired. For certain not to be done on a regular basis, however useful as a tool to to help the student feel the difference in the muscle usage.<P>A class at the swimming pool, again jump starts the brain in focusing on correctness, adds a new focus to thinking about placement, wonderful venue for working on the quality of movement.<P>Again all of these little aside lessons that aim to reinforce by using the movement out of context are to be considered extracuricular and not meant to take the place of a technique class.<P>To finish I would like to add that the syllabus exists inside the box, to use to its greatest potential the teacher must think outside of the box.<P>

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 7:08 am 
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rabbit - you really have a different thinking approach than some of us...i am wondering what it is in your background that has conferred this 'angle', if you will?<P>maybe psychology studies? whatever it is, i like it! i hope you have seen our enthusiastic floor barre thread from a while ago - if not, do a search in this forum if interested.<P>the turn 'in'(parallel)/turn out thing i am a big fan of. lucette aldous, who was one of my teachers, uses this a lot. (you may also know she is a serious devotee of the daily kniaseff floor barre.) <P>i have been using this recently with the same 'lazy-brain kids' i mention up above (!) - aiming to improve their use of turnout, we are working some exercises in parallel, and some with deliberate rotations to turn in & turn out (e.g. tendus). at their age they like floor barre, but i am not yet convinced they get much out of it, because they are not careful enough, restrained enough, inwardly focused enough to really be aware and 'feel' things intelligently...i could be wrong....<P>tip-toes, there is of course the obvious little thing like letting students finish centre exercises in their own poses, own arm positions, etc - but they are surprisingly conservative in general - i think they usually don't want to risk embarrassment from their peers, so they curtail wild creativity, unfortunately! (of course that depends on age & personality.)<P>i too am really enjoying this discussion!

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 7:44 am 
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RE:<BR>rabbit - you really have a different thinking approach than some of us...i am wondering what it is in your background that has conferred this 'angle', if you will?<P>------------------------------------------------------------<P>For certain it does not come from formal education as I hold no degree's from any University. Although I do have ECE and specialized working with physically challenged children. I could only describe my dance background as eclectic. I have been involved in dance from my tender years and have been teaching for aprx 16 yrs.<P>My approach comes from a great deal of observation. For the most part I beleive that we as teachers far to often look at our students as machines with whom we either build from scratch, fine tune and often repair. Never looking into the human dynamic that exists within the machine. I fell we spend to much time with how to teach, what to teach, when to teach when the real question is....how do they learn? I venture to ask here, is it part of the teachers job to teach the student how to learn, to examine how different students learn...do they learn through imitation by a teacher modeling. Do they learn academically through logical thought process, do they learn from infering meaning. Simply put we have the responsibility of teaching to the different learning styles of each student in every combination they come,,,how can we then teach one dimentionally and expect all students to succeed. We should i believe measure our success as teachers not through those students who are easily taught but rather by the growth of those who may struggle more. OK I have probably said far more than you wished to know on the subject of personal phylosophy.<P>suffice it to say that i myself have no idea why I think the way I think, I simply do.<P>Perhaps a clue lies within one of my favorite quotes.<P>"It requres an unusual mind to make an analysis of the obvious"<P> Alfred North Whitehead

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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 8:10 am 
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beautifully said, Rabbit. to me, the essence(s) of learning are in all of these points. The best teachers I have had, dance and otherwise taught with these ideas in mind while "keeping the mechanics intact."<BR>"How, when, and what to teach" may not have too much time spent on it so much as it needs to be balanced with, as you say, how they learn. I do believe you were including that, so I'm probably being redundant here. <BR>I am very glad to see someone put this idea into words, here. I'm sure there are a lot more who think this way these days. I would like to add that observation is a true artist's most important attribute, and is not necessarily as easy to develop as technique in some ways. This is true for artists of any genre. Taking the idea of observation from the teacher to the student, I believe that this if the student can learn the ability to observe (really observe based on what we are talking about here) then that student will begin to surpass mere mechanics also. I would be interested to hear how some people try to teach the idea of observation or artistry. We have mostly been saying that it should be taught in conjunction with the syllabus, but not how. Rabbit, your students are fortunate.<P><BR>[This message has been edited by Maggie (edited September 25, 2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by Maggie (edited September 25, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Teaching a Syllabus
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 3:04 pm 
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i'll second THAT, maggie! Image and aren't WE fortunate, to have 'met' this interesting thinker/poster?<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>I have probably said far more than you<BR>wished to know on the subject of personal phylosophy.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>not at all - but, i can't believe that you don't have an academic background with the things you are coming out with! - you are talking about the things i learned when i did a graduate diploma of education.....are you an avid reader, by any chance? i mean, creative thinking is one thing - but some of these words (the fashionable jargon of education, as opposed to the concepts) don't just arise in anyone's mind....at least i didn't think so....<P>it's great to have you here. Image<BR>

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