History of Creative Dance
Creative dance is perceived differently by different sectors of the education system. In many provinces, creative dance is part of the physical education curriculum. More recently, two provinces— British Columbia and Saskatchewan— have considered placing dance under the rubric of arts education. The aspect of creative dance that is emphasized reﬂects the position creative dance is assigned in the curriculum. When in the physical education curriculum, creative dance lessons typically focus on development of the motor skills involved, with little concern for the experience’s aesthetic potential. In arts education, the primary focus is creative dance’s aesthetic potential. Advocates view creative dance not only as having potential for developing motor skills or aesthetic sensibility, but as a means to improve students’ self-concept and as a valuable component of an integrated curriculum. Upon closer scrutiny, however, these different ways of justifying creative dance may prove contradictory. “Creative dance” is a particular form of dance. This form is typically taught in elementary schools because unlike other dance forms, it does not require years of training. Basically, creative dance involves the use of movement elements to express thoughts and feelings. Dimondstein (1974) expands on this deﬁnition when she considers dance to be “the interpretation of a child’s ideas, feelings, and sensory impressions expressed symbolically in movement forms through the unique use of his body” .Creative dance teachers may suggest particular ideas or feelings they want their students to express through movement. Alternatively, they may provide a stimulus— for example, a piece of music, a poem, a painting— which they want students to interpret and express through the medium of movement. The medium of movement can be further deﬁned using the elements of movement. Rudolf Laban (1975) has comprehensively analyzed movement and its constituent elements. Examples of Laban’s movement elements include body wareness; space awareness; the awareness of weight, time, and ﬂow; and the adaptation to partners and groups. The movement themes developed from these elements have formed the basis of numerous handbooks on creative dance, among them Preston-Dunlop’s (1980) A Handbook for Dance in Education, Joyce’s (1980) First Steps in Teaching Creative Dance to Children, and Boorman’s (1969) Creative Dance in the First Three Grades. Although Morin (1988) criticizes the curriculum content these writers propose as too myopic, I suggest that the development of an elemental movement vocabulary has a wider purpose, that being to express the inner self. In fact, Joyce (1980) states that the goal of creative dance is “to communicate through movement” , and PrestonDunlop’s handbook (1980) includes a theme she refers to as “Meaning, Expression, Communication and Embodiment” . Creative dance, then, is not simply what Morin (1988) refers to as “elemental dance” (dance whose content is based solely upon the use of movement elements) but includes aspects of what she refers to as “expressive dance” (dance dealing with aesthetic qualities and qualitative relationships). Whether the focus is on elemental or expressive aspects of creative dance is often a function of who is viewing the activity. What is Creative Dance?
The creative dance curriculum incorporates the movement education concepts of Rudolf Von Laban, who stressed the educational benefits of dance as an aesthetic, social, and communicative form. A problem solving, non-competitive learning approach is used to enhance the students’ awareness of their motor, cognitive, and expressive abilities. Rudolf Von Laban
Rudolf Von Laban (15 December 1879 – 1 July 1958) was a dance artist and theorist, notable as one of the pioneers of modern dance in Europe. His work laid the foundations for Laban Movement Analysis, Labanotation (Kinetography Laban), other more specific developments...
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