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Teacher's Guide for APPLESEEDS Becoming a Dancer

May 2004

This guide was prepared by Cyndy Hall. Ms. Hall is a Southern California teacher, writer, and keyboard musician.

Words / Terms to Know:
Tarantella * Competitive * Choreograph * Paraplegic * Disabilities * Demonstrate * Audition * Precision
While reading this issue . . .
  1. Call high schools, community colleges, and dance studios to find dancers willing to visit your classroom to talk about dancing and lead short classroom demonstration lessons.
  2. Arrange a class field trip to a ballet or dance performance.
  3. Ask students to bring in articles about dance, reviews of performances, and other dance-related articles from newspapers and magazines. Display these on a bulletin board or wall display.
Spread these next two ideas over several class sessions:
  1. Assemble a collection of different kinds of dance music (Spanish, hip-hop, waltz, etc.). Clear classroom space (or adjourn to the gym, cafeteria, or playground), play 1-2 minutes of a variety of selections, and ask students to move to the music. After each selection, ask what dance moves were inspired by each piece and why. Discuss.
  2. Bring "Singing In the Rain," "Tap Dogs," and other dance videos (illustrating different dance styles) to class. Show short segments, asking students to be ready to state two different observations about each style of dance. Share and discuss.
"Hip-Hop, Rap-a-Tap, Let's Dance Around the World" by Leticia Ann Kimura and Annabel Wildrick (pages 2-6)
  1. Ask students to bring in pictures (from magazines, newspapers, and other sources) of different styles of dance. Use these pictures to illustrate large wall posters labeled 'ballet,' 'hip-hop,' 'tap,' etc. (the styles discussed in the article). While reading this issue, ask students to contribute facts, personal experiences, and comments about each type of dance by writing on the wall posters. Use these answers to guide further class discussion.
  2. Why do people dance? Ask students to write a short paragraph in their journals about why people dance - and why they themselves dance. Share and discuss these paragraphs.
  3. Do any local colleges, churches, consulates, or community centers sponsor folk dancing festivals or recitals? Arrange a class field trip, contact the sponsoring organization to arrange a class demonstration, or attend the performance yourself and videotape the dancers for later class viewing.
  4. Using the library or Internet sources, ask individuals or small groups of students to find out more about the types of dance discussed in this article. Prepare short classroom presentations to share this information.
  5. Use an overhead projector to trace a large world map bulletin board display. Ask individuals or small groups of students to research folk dances from different parts of the world, then use their information to 'fill the world' with pictures and facts.
"Chance Dance" by Alyson Rigby (pages 8-9) & "Dance A Chance Dance" (page 10)
  1. Read the articles, then try a classroom "Chance Dance" as part of the activities in Spread these next two ideas over several class sessions (above).
  2. How does Merce Cunningham's dancing style differ from ballet, jazz, or other forms of traditional dance?
"Dancers on Wheels" by Janeen R. Adil (pages 11-13),
"Get Ready, Get Set, Dance!" by Barbara Hall (pages 14-17),
"Dancing Like Angels" by Joelle Ziemian (pages 18-19),
"Gene Kelly: Tough Guy or Dancer?" by Kip Wilson (pages 20-21) ,
"Tomasina's Toes" by Casey Carlsen (pages 22-23),
"On Pointe" by Joe Ann Hinrichs (pages 24-25),
"Rocking with the Rockettes" by Gail Skroback Hennessey (pages 26-27), &
"Carrie, Navajo Fancy Dancer" by Nancy Bo Flood (pages 30-32)
  1. These articles profile dancers in various disciplines, pointing out many similarities and differences in style, technique, and learning experiences. As individuals, small groups, or the whole class read each article, note these comparisons on a wall chart (or whiteboard). Contributions may come from class discussion, individual reflection after reading an article, or small group discovery sessions.
  2. What questions would the class ask dancers in each discipline? Are there questions common to each form? Develop a class list through discussion or contributions from individuals. Send students (individually or in small groups) out to interview dancers in the community who are involved in as many different forms of dance as possible. Share the results of these interviews in class reports and/or on the wall chart from the first suggestion in this section.

    Other students may use the websites suggested in this issue to find further information and resources for research/discovery.

    If the class attends a dance recital or professional performance, arrange a brief "get to know" interview session with individual performers. Use the class-developed question list as a basis for each interview. If the performer(s) give their permission, tape these interviews for replay in class and/or a final class video project at the conclusion of this unit.
  3. Ask a ballet dancer to demonstrate the preparation of new pointe (toe) shoes. How long does a ballet dancer use a pair of toe shoes? Borrow an old pair to show the effects of long rehearsals and performances on hard floors.
  4. Prepare a classroom display of shoes used in various dance disciplines. (Call a local dance studio or college dance department to borrow old shoes.) Ask students to write a brief paragraph about one of the many dance disciplines - from the shoe's point of view.
  5. For class discussion/individual reflection: What are the special qualities that a dancer must have? How - and where - would these qualities relate to other parts of a dancer's life? Would these traits 'cross over' to other vocations? Discuss.
  6. Being a professional dancer (in any discipline) means sacrificing many things that most people take for granted. What do dancers give up? What do they gain in return for these sacrifices?
  7. Many professional athletes retire from their sport at an early age and go on to other careers or endeavors. Does a dancer also have to retire? Why or why not? Ask students to use examples from the articles in this issue to illustrate and support their discussion.
  8. Are a dancer's feet (and legs) the most important part of their body? Why - or why not? Discuss or use as a prompt for individual reflection.
Don't forget to "Learn the Waltz" (Kathiann M. Kowalski) on pages 28-29!
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