Q: I’ve been using PowerPoint to make my classroom presentations for nearly a decade. How can I breathe some new life into my stale slide shows for my dance classes?
A: Slide show presentation programs created with Microsoft’s PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote have become the norm for presentations, but we are dance people. We move, and so should our presentations. I use Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software. Instead of just having image after image pop up on the screen, Prezi lets you set the pathway from slide to slide, giving you the feeling of movement throughout your presentation. You can zoom in and out of slides and look at the presentation as a whole or just a part. It feels cinematographic.
When you design a presentation, think like an educator: What’s the big concept? You can create the presentation to reflect that concept and even determine the way you navigate through it. For my “Tech Toolbox” presentation, I have an image of a toolbox that I can zoom in and out of to see the tech tools (which I layered into the toolbox picture) that I recommend. This way, you drive home the theme graphically.
Prezi is also a great tool for performances. I use it for my in-school performances, first to explain the curriculum to the parents, and then as a backdrop for the dances. For a theme focused on the planet Earth, my presentation started off with a picture of Earth viewed from space. I could then zoom in on different places on the planet, where I’d embedded the slide that accompanied each dance. It turned a lower school dance performance into a multimedia event, and afterward I found that the parents’ comments reflected a much better understanding of the whole process.
Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends School in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.