As a professor of dance pedagogy at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and a research scholar who uses the classroom as her laboratory, I combine the teaching and research strands of my work in 3 ways: (1) technology integration; (2) practical hands-on learning; and (3) pedagogical initiatives.
(1) Technology Integration:
Current practices in K-12 dance pedagogy mandate technology integration in students’ comprehensive dance education. Limitations in quality instruction, staff development, and evaluation, however, hinder the appropriate acceptance of these technologies. The result is that few universities offer technology pedagogy coursework within their dance curricula.
As a one of the few teachers of dance technology in the nation, I receive numerous invitations to speak nationally and internationally on the subject of interactive instruction that integrates this component. When hired to direct the Dance Education program, I created DCE 614 New Media in Dance Education, a dance education course that offered an in-depth exploration of these technologies. In the course, students learn social media tools for instruction, video analysis and assessment techniques, image manipulation, interactive multimedia, video shooting and editing, and live interactive performance. DCE 614 is offered as part of our MA DE program and is also open to the community of K-12 and university teachers nationwide.
At UNCG, technology is woven into each of my courses as a means to enhance student’s instructional methods and artistic voice. For example, in DCE 459 and DCE 646, students create technology enhanced issue-based pedagogy that connects dance with larger social activist themes, such as ideas of prejudice and tolerance. My undergraduate and graduate curricula that employ these innovative instructional methods have been presented nationally and internationally and as keynote research presentations in China, Taiwan, and Utah.
Integrating technology through the use of video, imagery, and audio creates rich resource material that supports the comprehension of difficult and complex topics. In DCE 461 Student Teaching in Dance, students use video-based coding software to analyze their instruction and deepen their capacity to accurately reflect on instructional content in the field. Other applications, such as Evernote, have been instrumental to student growth as reflective practitioners. Examples of student work and photos documenting technology integration can be found in my instructional support materials and on my website. As I continue to explore and teach dance using technology I have begun to focus my inquiry on themes of student choreographic inspiration, clarifying difficult concepts, self-reflection, and productive dance thinking through the use of social media applications such as Twitter and Instagram.
As an arts educator, I have a unique opportunity to nurture creative thinking, self-direction, and personal efficacy before, during, and after instruction. Interactive web based “smart” technologies assist in this process. When students are in charge of their own learning and assessment, their work is more focused and self-directed. As a result, students learn to take initiative and to be responsible and accountable for their work. In dance, where traditional assessment modalities cannot address the complexity, the creative process technology apps give students a way to document, examine, discuss, evaluate, and share work. They support a metacognitive mashup of ideas, visual literacy, and flexible thinking. My pedagogical research in dance technology has been both published in scholarly journals and presented at the last nine NDEO conferences and the last three Dance and the Child International (daCi) conferences, respectively. Specific keynote addresses and residency details are found in my CV.
(2) Practical hands-on Learning
Because successful teachers are made largely by their experiences, I have created numerous opportunities for my students to try various teaching methods and curricula. Each course has a practical component to give students applied learning experiences because this helps students develop understanding for other students’ needs, empathy for their differences, and practical skills for handling difficult situations.
When hired at UNCG in 2012, I created Dancers Connect (DC) as a hands-on research and training laboratory where dance education students could hone their skills and develop pedagogical expertise. The DC program served as an effective training ground for dance pedagogy, fostering in-depth practical inquiry and access to University personnel and technology resources rarely found in K-12 schools. UNCG dance education majors, when enrolled in DCE 459 and DCE 359, are afforded the opportunity to develop and implement original curricula under the guidance of program faculty and staff. Such immersive opportunities with access to university resources, technology, and staff are not found in public school.
Students in the DC program come year after year to study with master teachers, graduates, and undergraduates. The success of the program necessitated the development of a class for young dancers to learn the craft of choreography, which became the origin of the Dancers Connect (DC) Company. In the DC Company, young dancers create original works on issue-based themes and perform them for the community.
The success of this company can be noted in their invitation to participate in the daCi Open Space Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the renowned Tanner Dance Center. In addition, the DC Company was honored by being selected to perform a dance on the life of legend Josephine Baker; this piece was created by 8 DC students, graduate student Isabelle Collazo and myself. Participating in the daCi conference was an incredible experience that provided students with the chance to work with master teachers of various dance traditions: Indian Bharatanatyam dance, African dance from New Guinea, Scottish Highland Dances and Tinikling Dance from the Philippines. The DC students also enjoyed the opportunity to network and connect with dancers from all over the world. The DC dancers returned to North Carolina with renewed desire to train in dance, with one of the students eventually entering the DC dance teacher training program for high school students.
Entry into the professional community through the dissemination of research is crucial in the development of dance educators. Over the years, I have collaborated with and presented research with over numerous students at national and international conference presentations and workshops. I believe that by presenting such collaborative work, students begin to view research as an integral aspect of curriculum design and instruction and are able to see their impact on the profession of dance education. A complete list of collaborative presentations and student grants can be found on my CV.
One of my most notable achievements occurred during coaching and staging the Repertory Etudes, a series of short dances developed by Julie Adams Strandberg and Carolyn Adams that are based on signature works of American choreographers that are available to the public with unprecedented access for study, viewing, and performance. Between 2012 and 2018 I collaborated with master teachers to bring three of the Repertory Etudes to UNCG students with six different casts. I am particularly proud of my coaching and staging of the David Parsons Etude, which celebrates Parsons’ own tendency toward athleticism and humorous choreography.
The project, funded by East Carolina University, UNCG School of Dance, and CVPA, brought together many divergent members of the North Carolina Dance community, including University dance education students from UNCG and ECU, professional dance teachers, students from Penn Griffin performing arts high school, and visual arts students who served as participant observers. The work was selected for performance at NCDEO’s Dance Across the State: Engage – Educate – Empower performance in Charlotte, North Carolina. During the entire process of reconstruction, these multiple layers of mentorship and dynamic instruction relationships evolved. I have since begun analyzing the early data and working on a manuscript tracking participants’ experience and the learning modalities of motivation, professionalism, authentic expression, and personal connections as employed to fully embody the dance.
In order to address the undergraduate and graduate dance education students’ deficiencies in training and experience, I instituted workshops with the leading choreographers and specialists in dance education, among them Yvonne Rainer, legendary choreographer and founding member of the Judson Dance Theatre; David Dorfman, a New York choreographer, and Saza Dimmick, a prominent Hip Hop artist. In addition to their shared insights, I encouraged my students to advocate for their needs; to participate in national and state dialogues on dance education; and to create a student dance education organization at UNCG.
In 2014, MA DE students formed the UNCG student chapter of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), where I serve as the Faculty Advisor. NDEO @ UNCG serves to create relationships across campus with other students interested in dance exploration and performance art. In October 2019, NDEO @ UNCG members will attend the NDEO Conference in Miami to share their research and participate in master classes. This summer NDEO @ UNCG has instituted the Artistic Luminance 3-day residency with Bill Evans exploring his unique community-based LMA-focused instruction of contemporary dance.
(3) Pedagogical Initiatives
I have written about and led conference workshops and presentations on pedagogical investigations. In these various venues I have shared the successes, surprises, and challenges faced generated in my courses. Below are some of the primary pedagogical initiatives:
21st-Century Skills: While the significance of communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and cooperative peer support is aligned with the School of Education benchmarks, I see these skills as having a direct impact including building positive relationships, improving communication, and enhancing social skills as well as improved attention and retention. Further, my experience, reinforced by the DC three-tiered mentoring program, has been that this type of collaboration helps students create a stronger peer support system and greater confidence in their instructional skill.
Student Voice: It has always been my priority to embolden students by reserving time for open-ended conversations, peer evaluations, peer feedback, and collaborative teaching and curricula development (even though at times it may not be the student’s favorites assignments).
Student Leadership: At the undergraduate level, I have seen the impact of the focused and content-specific sequence of DCE 459 classes (DCE 459A Teaching Creative Dance; DCE 459B Creative Process: Teaching Improvisation and Choreography and DCE 459C Dance Technique: Teaching Ballet and Modern Dance). In a recent session of DCE 459C, for example, I noted progress in student’s leadership during challenging tasks alongside increased instructional confidence and technical skill development. I believe that the integration of the DC program as a teaching laboratory has strengthened student’s knowledge construction, passion and commitment to dance education because they see the results immediately in the work of the children.
Student Self-Efficacy: In all courses, and most recently in DCE 259/DCE 559 Laban Movement Analysis and DCE 530 Pilates courses, I employ different technology-centered instructional strategies in my classes. In the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, I pursued further investigation of the use of handheld technology for self-efficacy combining video documentation and reflective journaling using Evernote software. I have continued to investigate specifically how the responsive technologies may support the students’ knowledge construction using self-reflective journaling, video analysis, peer assessment, and personal reflection. In DCE 259 students use Evernote software to build what is in essence a digital portfolio of creative and choreographic problem solving from DCE 259 that can prove critical to their future inquiry in dance making.
I aim to continue researching technology pedagogy for dance to further contemplate how these resources can assist student self-efficacy and develop increased opportunities for students to customize their learning. I also want to continue to consider how I can use these technologies to develop collaborative ways of working together and sharing information with a wider audience. I ground these innovative explorations in instructional methods in my classes that are informed and augmented by research where students conceptualize, implement, evaluate, and present comprehensive research projects. The culmination of this component of the course is the student’s dissemination of their work at national and international conference venues.
Teaching is a rewarding occupation to which I am deeply committed. I work diligently to help my students set and achieve goals. My work at UNCG is aligned with the mission of the UNCG Schools of Dance and the CVPA. To that end, I facilitate the development of imaginative thinking, problem solving, and recognizing connections, all of which give form and meaning to students’ experiences.
LINK TO STUDENT SUPPORT VIDEO HERE INSTEAD?