by Amanda Chiado, SI 2018
On October 8th I had the great pleasure of facilitating a Practitioner Exchange on Dance & Writing with the Luna Dance Institute following a year-long inquiry project which began in the Summer Institute 2018.
The PX was totally rejuvenating! It is so important to connect with others who are working in your field. We all shared ideas related to our creative and teaching practices. Participants discussed dance as a way to tap out of abstraction and into the body. For example, students can dance verbs instead of doing a worksheet. Capitalizing on opportunities to connect language to the body is essential to learning. We discussed the challenge of students growing both in dance and writing simultaneously, but determined that there can be a dialogue and fluidity between these two content areas that elevates them both.
We could have talked much longer, but here are some of the highlights:
- Creating dance sequences alongside exploring writing structure can help students learn beginning, middle and end, motifs, and revising and editing.
- Don’t forget a student can be assessed on content knowledge by doing a dance!
- Units centered on relevant topics that incorporate dance are powerful, such as a Dreamers Unit or a Borders & Boundaries Unit.
- Students can dance quotes, and journal about dancing.
- Dance the Pledge of Allegiance to engage students in a writing piece we are all familiar with.
- They can write a poem about Fibonacci and the dance of mathematics.
- Teaching is most engaging when we are trying new ideas, and when the content is student lead. What are students interested in and what is affecting them? Depending on the age of the students, topics can range from pirates to climate change.
- Integrated approaches to creativity support health and well-being, coping strategies, self-regulation and liberation.
- It is important to observe reflect, and evaluate and this goes for you and the students.
- Working backward in your planning to creates systematic learning opportunities.
Our conversation too, was like a dance that moves with meaning and feeling, and even a poem that flows and connects. I really appreciated the sharing of ideas, and the dedication of the group to creating meaningful experiences for their students that incorporate dance or are driven by dance. I came away swirling with thoughts and an affirmation of my deep commitment to my practice. Can we dance to Mad Libs? Let’s try it!
The final image that lingered on for me following our exchange was the Cinnamon Roll. Part of the conversation entailed an experience of dancing as a cinnamon roll, and using the descriptive language connected to the delicious treat as a way to engage in the dance. This image stays with me not just because I love food, but because it’s a concrete object that we can investigate, and use to inform our dancing and inform our writing. The delicate steam, twist and roll, the sticky, and doughy are all words that live boldly in the body. Become the cinnamon roll!