Sharing Students' Progress Online

Q:  My school dance classes don’t have regular performances, which limits parents’ and the administration’s understanding of what students are doing in class, as well as the value they see in my program. How can I show what dancers are learning without an end-of-the-year recital?

A: Unlike educators in non-arts areas, it’s often not enough for us to just teach—we must also be advocates for our field and ourselves. To share my work and students’ progress, I’ve created a blog, which is a journal on a web page. Unlike the simple, single-page online journals of the past, blogs today can be full websites with multiple pages. They are free to set up, and easy to maintain. And if privacy of your students is a concern, you can make the posts password-protected.

I use WordPress, one of the most popular sites for blogs. WordPress supplies many templates that you can customize (for free or a nominal fee), making your site look professional and personal. Different templates organize the material differently: Some templates emphasize photographs, while others are better for text-heavy posts. It’s up to you.

My site has a separate blog page for each class I teach. I post videos of the students in class every other week, along with an explanation of what they’re demonstrating, what they learned, and how to watch it. That last piece is key: Many parents expect to see “So You Think You Can Dance” with their little ones, so you must tell them what is developmentally and pedagogically appropriate. Be specific about what parents should be looking for when they watch the videos. If you teach older students, get them involved with blogging and let them post their thoughts or feelings about the class activities.

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary School in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on the faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.