Teaching about dance (what is dance?)

by Rebecca
(California)

I am a high school teacher and this year I am teaching a class that covers the fine arts (music, dance, visual art, theatre) and I am approaching the unit on dance. I have ZERO dance knowledge or skill and have been desperately searching for resources. There is an overwhelming amount of vocabulary and styles and aspects of history out there, so I am wondering if you could give me some advice to help me focus. The unit will only last for one quarter. What are 10 (give or take a few) vocabulary terms that are foundational for understanding dance? And if I were to divide the unit by genre, which genres should I focus on? Lastly, are there any videos/documentaries you can recommend? Thank you!

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Nov 08, 2015
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Dear Rebecca,

As I understand, you will not teach a dancing class (a practical, moving class), but you will teach about dance in general terms as an informative course.

Important concepts for talking about dance are: movement of the human body, choreography, scenic dance, social dance, ritual dance, non verbal language, dance genres, dance styles.

You already know that there are too many dance genres, so if I were you, I would teach about a traditional dance of your locality, about western classical dance (ballet) and about another type of social or popular dance that may be familiar to your students. If you have more time, you can briefly mention other genres with video examples or so.

I don’t have a documentary to recommend in mind now, especially because you have a very broad topic. I suggest you to better search for more specific material and find the way to use it to accompany the topics you treat in each class.
For information about dance history, you could read some of the things I’ve published about contemporary dance, modern dance and ballet, here:

Dance History

You’ll find video examples of contemporary dance here:

Dance Videos

I hope this helps,

Warm regards,
Maria

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