Studio dance is dance whose main goal is the development of technique and the acquisition of one or several dance styles. Dance in school has very different goals. Dance education has to be accessible to every individual in the school whether they have ever danced or not, speak English, whether they are in a wheelchair or have physical handicaps or learning disabilities to name but a few possible restrictions ordinary people may have. The goal of dance education is to ensure the continuing development of the whole individual and their cognitive, emotional, social and physical development in preparation for life long learning skills.
Does this mean that studio dancers won’t learn anything in the program? This is not necessarily so because students who have been dancing awhile and have acquired technique, strength, focus and are comfortable performing have an opportunity to take more leadership positions. These students know how to anticipate routines in the class and help other untrained students acquire the same discipline the dance students already have. Studio dancers will not get as much technique from these classes but they will have opportunities to grow in other ways such as choreographing, helping others, rehearsing groups, and leading small group dances. Often times, because these dancers have already been opened up to the world of dance they will be the students in class who will take a new idea and really grow with the opportunity to explore their own thoughts and movement ideas.
Students who stay in the program for more than one year really start to show the acquisition of dance technique and more developed creative ability. These students are always a pleasure to have in class. They are the ones who have the most commitment to the program and frequently produce some of the most interesting creative work over time.
There is a published BC Government Ministry of Education Curriculum for Dance Education. We have had this document in our province since 1995. This was a big break through for dance in B.C. when this happened. There are four main areas of the curriculum which teachers are expected to cover in their teaching. These are introduction and continuing development of the Movement Elements as fundamental tools for creating interesting movement sequences, Composition and Choreography, Presentation and Performance and Dance in Society. Every grade from K – 12 has these four main curricular organizers which get introduced in the primary grades and developed continuously throughout a student’s school dance experience right up to grade 12.
There are some basic skills that will make the dance experience a successful one. Students who enroll in this program should love to move. They should have a curiosity about movement and an interest in trying new ideas, stretching and growing intellectually as well as physically. Students should be able to work with others in co operative group settings.