Teaching Children Dance, Third Edition
By Theresa Purcell Cone, PhD, and Stephen L. Cone, PhD
Human Kinetics, 2012
206 pages, includes CD
Whether you’re revamping your creative dance program or designing a new elementary dance curriculum, the third edition of Teaching Children Dance will serve as a comprehensive, easy-to-follow resource that contains the theories behind creative dance education and concrete methods to put into practice. It’s co-authored by Theresa Purcell Cone, a past National Dance Association president with extensive experience teaching dance in New Jersey elementary schools. Though it’s geared toward K–5 teachers, it’s a great resource for teachers in studios. Many elements can be applied to creative dance classes in any setting.
Part I describes the benefits of creative dance and how the elements of dance fit into a children’s curriculum. New to the third edition are chapters on assessment, teacher evaluations and ways to include students with disabilities, as well as how dance addresses the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines and new 21st-century skills and whole-child education initiatives that have been formulated since the second edition.
Part II is an idea bank, presenting 23 movement activities. Each activity, like “Ocean Waves and Swimmers” and “Spaghetti Dance,” is explained so thoroughly that you can insert them directly into lesson plans. The Cones list the outcomes (what your students will learn in each activity), how to organize the dancers (whether they dance individually or in small groups) and the equipment necessary. Step-by-step instructions are written in a voice you’d use in class. Reflection topics, assessment suggestions and a few ways to alter the assignments are included, along with a CD-ROM of all worksheets, rubrics and activities.
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You can take the dancer out of Balanchine, but you can't take the Balanchine out of the dancer—or at least, that's Darla Hoover's experience. As artistic director of Ballet Academy East's pre-professional division, following an 11-year career with New York City Ballet, she readily recognizes that aspects of her class—the speed, clarity, musicality and energy—are inarguably Balanchinian. But she was surprised to find she also takes after the late, great choreographer when it comes to classroom demeanor: "Just like Mr. Balanchine would say, I'll tell my students, 'Great! That was so much better.' They'll think, 'Oh, thank goodness,'" she says. "And then I'll turn around and say, 'More. Do it bigger.' That was always him—it was never enough." That constant quest for perfection will be on display this month, when the BAE students perform Balanchine's Donizetti Variations, a cheery but technically challenging 26-minute ballet, in their spring recital, May 19–21 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in NYC.
Should your music go out or skip—and it will, every director attests—make sure you have backups ready, whether digital or on a separate device. Always give your dancers the chance at a do-over, too, says Carole Royal. "We'll either replay the music right then—have them leave the stage and come on and do it again from the beginning—or we'll wait two numbers while we get it set up and then have them come back and do it again," she says.
Tony Waag knows from experience that your audience will be relieved by a fresh start. While on tour singing with a big band for a Hoagy Carmichael music show, Waag started singing and realized that his mic wasn't on. "I raised my hands and got the whole orchestra to stop playing. I said, 'We're going to try this again,'" he says. "It was such a relief—people get really uncomfortable if you pretend that nothing is going on."
Carole Royal, owner, Royal Dance Works, Phoenix, Arizona
Tony Waag, American Tap Dance Foundation, New York, New York
This Sunday, master ballet teacher Finis Jhung turns 80. After a career as a soloist for both San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey and a principal for Harkness Ballet, Jhung carved out a unique place for himself as a ballet teacher in New York City. He's coached the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical, developed a popular video and DVD how-to series and STILL teaches seven classes a week at the Ailey Extension. He's graced the pages of this magazine to offer his time-honored wisdom again and again, and he's currently working on a memoir. (We can't wait to read it.) Happy birthday, Finis!
Since 1989, tap dancers have been celebrating National Tap Dance Day (NTDD) on and around May 25, the birthday of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This year, prime events are happening in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.