Dana’s World of Dance Weblog

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As a dance instructor for young children, I find it very interesting to search for different curriculum standards and ideas for teaching my students. 

According to the National Dance Education Organization, “Dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. These standards in early childhood address the developmental needs of the young child through the art of dance. They are guideposts for what every child should know and be able to do at ages: Birth –One (infant), two (toddler), three, four, and five.”

This is the National Dance Education Organization Standards Website:

http://www.ndeo.org/standards.asp

Here is the page found on the site for Early Childhood Dance Standards:

http://www.ndeo.org/Standards_Childhood.pdf

I find the information I found on these sites to be very thorough and useful.  Everything and anything that needs to be explained is thoroughly discussed, from how to read and use the standards to a very detailed description of a child’s abilities in movement each year of their life.  The website not only describes the different elements of dance and the dance experience, but also uses circle graphs and tables to make the information even easier to understand.  The website also provides a list of the benefits of dance for young children and then uses the standards to further explain the benefits.

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One thing that is common for dancers of all styles is the pain that comes along with using your body as excessively as they do.  Being a dancer is centered on your body, how you take care of it, and how healthy you are.  Because dancers, and especially ballet dancers, work their bodies so hard and sometimes in very “unnatural” ways (meaning moving your body in ways that you would not naturally) it is common to injure your muscles or other parts of your body. 

Injuries most commonly occur in the following areas of the body…

-Foot/Ankle

-Knee and Thigh

-Hip

-Spine/Back

-Shoulders

-Elbow/Wrist/Hand

Most muscle and tendon injuries can be prevented by proper warm-up and cool down.  Dancers should always begin their classes and rehearsals by warming up and stretching every part of their body before dancing full out.  In a ballet dance company, all members are required to take a 1-2 hour ballet class every morning before they even start rehearsing for performances.  It is also important to wear warm-ups so that your muscles do not get cold in between classes or rehearsals and drink plenty of water.

If an injury occurs or you being to feel pain in an area of your body, it is important to see a physical therapist.  They have the ability to figure out the problem is and how to help your body heal through physical therapy.  Many professional dance companies have a physical therapist and massage therapist on staff so there is immediate assistance if a member is injured or requires medical attention for a reoccurring injury. 

The main reason many professional dancers have to retire from dancing and end their careers between the ages of 30 and 40 is because they become injured and can no longer use their bodies as they did in their younger years.  Many become dance teachers, choreographers, artistic directors or start their own dance companies. 

Here is a website I found that goes deep into detail about various injuries that can occur during dance.  It can help you to identify an injury, what to do to heal the area, and how to prevent the injury from reoccurring.

http://www.med.nyu.edu/hjd/harkness/patients/injuries/

This is an article about the five most common dance injuries and how to treat them.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1083/is_4_79/ai_n13493419

It is obvious to many that there is a much larger number of females in the dance world than there are males.  Especially in ballet, due to the common grace and elegance of the style, it is thought to be directed towards women.  In the past this may have been true, but now-a-days ballet and more importantly dance in general are quickly becoming hobbies and professional careers for anyone (male or female) who has the ability,talent, and courage to step it up and show what they can do.

Today, the staggering amount of hopeful female dancers who flock to auditions still greatly outnumbers the few men who appear, so it is much harder to have a successful dance career as a woman.  For example, there may be 200 female dancers auditioning for 2 spots in a ballet company while there are 50 men auditioning for 10 male spots.  A professional dance company, performance, show etc. will almost always have a greater need for talented, classically trained male dancers rather than female dancers. 

Male dancers, from a young age through adulthood, at times feel the need to hide their interest in or love of ballet and dance because they fear being teased or out-casted by peers or family.  Unfortunately, this is true in many if not all cases.  These boys will sometimes be called gay or girly if they participate in ballet classes rather than soccer and baseball leagues because people believe in the generalization that dance is for girls and sports are for boys.  Even parents do not allow their sons to dance because they either agree with the stereotype that all male dancers are gay or they do not want their children subjected to bulling from others. 

Either way, I find this upsetting and a great crutch to dance world in general.  Dance is a creative window that can lead to great number of benefits and opportunities for all children, especially boys. 

Fortunately, due to the rising popularity in newer dance forms such as hip hop and street jazz, it is becoming nationally acceptable for men to be amazing and talented dancers.  In order to have a successful career in dance, it is important to be well-rounded in many different forms and styles.  These male hip-hoppers may be amazing at popping and locking, but believe it tor not, many of them are talented contemporary and ballet dancers as well.   

Thanks to shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Step it Up and Dance’  dance it is now looked at as a popular and desirable ability.  Everyone wants to be able to dance like the female AND male competitors on these shows. So far, more male dancers have won first place in these competitions than female dancers.  That just goes to show boys, don’t be aftraid. Step it up and dance!

 

This website discusses the reasons why dance is for boys as much as it is for girls…

www.cdss.org/newsletter/articles/forboys.pdf

If I could choose any career in the world for myself, to devote my time and energy to, I would choose to teach children and teens the art of dance.  There is a wide range of benefits and advantages that children gain through dance instruction that they may not get from a normal gym class or in the elementary classroom.  Unfortunately, it is not common to have dance programs in elementary schools in the United States due to strict budgets and the lack of support for the arts.  Even subjects like fine art and music, that can be found in most elementary schools, are being cut because there isn’t enough money to pay for the demands of the programs. 

Here is a website I found called The Arts Ask For More – It lists all of the major facts about the postivie impact of Art Education on young people. http://www.americansforthearts.org/public_awareness/artsed_facts/001.asp

“Students who participate in music, art and dance are more likely to achieve academically, be elected to class office, read for pleasure, participate in youth groups and perform community service acts.”

The benefits of Dance in the early years of a child’s life (preschool – upper elementary school) include…

-Physical Development

-Creative Development

-Personal, Social, and Emotional Development

-Communication, Language, and Literacy Development

This is a website for parents that outlines the benefits of dance for young children, and any issues parents may wish to address when deciding a dance program for their children.

www.tinies.com/index/popup.php?download=1&id=78

Here is an example of a curriculum for a dance program in a K-12 school.

http://artswork.asu.edu/arts/teachers/curriculum/dance1.htm

When I become a teacher, I am going to make it a point to be an advocate for the arts in schools.  It is important for children to not only blossom academically but also artistically and creatively in order for them to become well-rounded individuals in the future.  The world of dance is an amazing discovery for any person and I want to help children on their road to discovery and share what the dance world has to offer.

Some people may think (most of the time parents) that a career in dance is not an actual career.  You don’t necessarily need to have an academic education, it might not pay well or have benefits unless you are famous in the dance world, and by the age of 35 most dancers must retire due to injury or new young dancers waiting and ready to jump in their places. 

I, myself, have never worked professionally as a dancer, but I work with many people who currently dance professionally or have in the past and through them have learned a lot about what it takes to form a successful career in dance.  Here are some surprising things I’ve learned…

-It, at times, can be very disconcerting due to a life of moving from audition to audition and never really having a speady job for more than a year or so.  You must be able to keep your self-esteem high and never give up.

When in a ballet company you can be docked pay for little things like your pointe shoe ribbon popping out of place, your hair piece falling out on stage, messing up a step or slipping and falling on stage. You must always be conscious of yourself, your appearance and your knowledge of the piece you are dancing.  It should feel like second nature and you shouldn’t need to think about the steps while dancing it.  Preparation is key.

-In a ballet company and also other types of dance teams and companies, your weight it watched very closely.  You can be fired for being as little as 2 pounds over your weight limit.  It is very important to eat a nutrious diet that is full of vitamins, fruits, vegtables and potein. 

-When in a dance company or performing professionally, you tend to have a very busy and tiring schedule.  It is most important to take good care of your body and mind as well. 

Other than some of the cons that come along with a career in dance, there are plenty of pros as well.  For a serious dancer, the best feeling in the world is being on stage in front of thousands of people doing what they love to do.  From what I have heard from many professional dancers, it is all worth it to feel the bright lights on your skin as you step out on the stage or the roar of the audience while you take your final bow.

Here is an article I found that follows the members of the Austrailia Ballet Company through a normal day of work as a professional ballet dancer. It is interesting to see what they go through on a daily basis and it also includes a lot of information about ballet, the ballet company and how it works.

http://www.australianballet.com.au/main.taf?p=7,3,2

Like I was discussing on my last blog, dance is becoming more and more popular through it’s exposure on prime time television.  Over the past 4 or 5 years a wide variety of new dance shows have emerged.   I think this is a great opportunity for people to become more informed and involved in the small world of dance.  It is a truly amazing and educational resource that has been under the radar for a long time.  Let me take the time to discuss a couple of these shows to let you know, from my opinion, the ones that are worth tuning in to.

So You Think You Can Dance – This show was created by the Executive Producer of the show ‘American Idol’ so it is similar in many ways, but uses dancers instead of singers.  For the first 3 or 4 weeks of the show, it is strictly auditions which are held in different cities all over the United States.  After the auditions are complete the judges pick 20 dancers from the thousands that audition to participate in the competition that is ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ 

The dancers are split up into girl/boy couples and every week pick from a variety of dance styles of out of a hat including contemporary, tango, hip hop, broadway jazz, waltz, jive and more.  There are plenty of extremely talented choreographers that createpieces for the dancers and every week one girl and one boy are voted off by the judges and the viewers opinions.

Viewers get the opportunity to call in every week and vote for who they would like to keep on the show (first half of the season is judges and views/second half of the season just viewers).  It comes down to 4 dancers on the final and the one with the highest amount if votes wins the title of Americas Favorite Dancer!  They dancers are amazingly talented (performance, technique, originality) and the choreographed pieces even better. I find the show very entertaining and is definitely worth tuning in to. 

Official Website: http://www.fox.com/dance/

Explains concept of show, judge bios, competitor bios, clips from previous episodes and more.

Dancing With the Stars – This show is similar to ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ in the aspect that they are both dance competition shows, but this one is strictly Smooth and Latin Ballroom.  Also, like the name states, the show consists of professional ballroom dancers teaching “stars” how to dance.  The show usually has 12 or 13 couples (a ballroom dancer and a star) that compete each week in different styles of ballroom dance. 

There are 3 judges that judge the stars on their technique, performance, and entertainment value.  Each week a star and professional couple are voted off, with the help of the opinions of the judges, by viewers.  I find the best part of this show to be when the professionals showcase the different styles so that viewers can see what they are suppose to look like.  Most of the time during the competition, the stars are not very talented in the art of dance and the professionals greatly outshine their partners.  Therefore, the professionals make this show worth tuning into. 

Official site: http://ll.abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index?pn=index&v11

Description of show, star bios, judge bios, clips from episodes and more.

 

This is an article I found on MSNBC about the increasing popularity of dance on television.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26203034/

I have been dancing since the age of 4.  I began at a studio near my house because my cousins were taking class there and that was ALL they talked about.  I wanted to be a part of it too.  I started out that September taking a half hour ballet class once a week.  It’s hard for me to remember the actual classes because it was so long ago, but I can remember the feeling I had when I came to dance.  I loved it from the moment I set foot in the building.  I use to ask my mom every morning if I could go to dance class instead of school. 

In my first recital we danced to a song from Little Orphan Annie and wore little pink flowy dresses and our hair slicked back in tight buns.  I enjoyed being on stage and had no problem dancing out in the bright lights, even at such a young age.   

The next year I begged my mother to let me take more classes and thankfully she gave in.  I took 3 half hour classes, one Ballet, one Tap, and one Jazz.  I was hooked and I didn’t want to do anything else.  After watching me dance around in the outfield during a pee-wee softball game, my parents decided it was time to focus on one thing.  It was obvious to them that I didn’t care about anything else, especially softball.  I switched to a new studio, where the classes were an hour long and ballet was the main focus. 

I continued to work my way up through the studio year after year and at the age of 10, I was asked to join the dance company.  The company included taking a certain amount of classes throughout the week and also adding a special company rehearsal on Saturdays.  We did extra things like participated in dance competitions, danced at nursing homes and charity benefits, were the entertainment at pageants and sports events and even had our own dance company showcase every year before the recital. 

By that point in my dance education, I was coming to dance class every night for at least 2 hours.  It became the only thing that I was able to do besides school.  I could not find time to participate in school sports, clubs or organizations, but I didn’t mind.  I was very close with all of my friends at the studio and we began to think of ourselves as a family away from home because we spent so much time together.

At the age of 17, my senior year of high school, I was asked to become an assistant teacher.  Along with the many hours I spent taking classes, I was also assisting 4 to 5 classes per week and learning what it was like to switch roles and act as a teacher instead of a student.  I found this very different and almost weird but eventually it became comfortable.  At this time I was spending about 10-15 hours per week at the dance studio. 

When it came time to graduate, it was a very exciting yet emotional time.  I found it harder to leave the dance studio and the tight knit family we had created there than to leave high school.  I wasn’t planning on pursuing a career in dance and even thought I still planned to take classes in college and complete a minor, I knew dancing was never going to be the same for me.  I still wanted dance to be a part of me. 

To my surprise and delight, I was offered a job to teach at the studio the following season.  I was very excited to still be able to take part in the studio I had practically grown up in.  I have been teaching there for the past 4 years, instructing classes in ballet, tap, jazz, and jazz funk.  Teaching dance is the main reason I have decided to become an elementary school teacher.  I love to dance and learn and want to pass that love on to as many children as possible.

 

Here is the website to the studio where I currently teach…

It describes the mission of the studio, the classes it offers, descriptions of the different dance styles, spotlights on special events/people and bios of the entire staff. 

www.triciasloandance.com

While searching the web, I also found this website that discusses almost anything you need to know about dance like diet/nutrition for dancers, technique, performance, choreography, dance history and so much more…it’s very interesting.

http://www.dancehelp.com/



  • None
  • dancer 4eva: i love this site i love ballet dancing and i really enjoyed reading this.
  • sandon48: I got all of the photos on my blog from google image searches
  • Keeley Sullivan: Where did you get the image of the dancer you used in your blog? Is it your image?

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