Positive consequences related to the learning conditions
The progressivism practices are found to be less competitive learning environments focusing on process instead of result, internal instead of external focus, and are more reflective in general (Roche & Huddy, 2015). This aligns with a more task-involving motivational climate, which is found to be positive for the well-being of dancers since students’ perceptions of the task-involving climate positively predicted all need-satisfaction within the basic needs’ theory (Chua, 2017).
Also, findings show that the students who perceived their dance teachers as supportive of student autonomy reported higher levels of intrinsic motivation (Chua, 2017). Intrinsic motivation is linked to flow experience, and there is evidence that flow is a strong predictor of prolonged commitment and creativity (Hefferon & Ollis, 2003).
Additonally, when teachers avoid being controlling, Haraldsen et al (2019) found they then functioned as a buffer towards students with perfectionistic tendencies. In contrast, students experiencing a controlling teaching style did report increased frustration of the need for competence and increase in external motivation, exhaustion, and anxiety (Haraldsen et al., 2019). In turn, associations between progressive teaching experience and intrinsic motivation, joy, and engagement, as well as increases in innovative and collaborative competencies have been found in Norwegian context (Østern, 2017; Østern & Irgens, 2019; Rothmund, 2019).
Evidence of increased learning outcome, clarity in movement, increased fluency, increased student engagement and motivation were found in a project enhancing more democratic teaching practice in ballet (Ritchie & Brooker, 2019). Hence, there seems to be evidence of greater depth in learning and understanding within a holistic approach, which in turn, enhances engagement and motivation (Alterowitz, 2014).
Consequences of somatic practices
Somatic practice – a central part of progressivism dance teaching – is explored in several studies. Results demonstrate that students displayed enhanced bodily connection, creativity, confidence, and critical understanding of tenets underlying somatic work, as well as some implications for dance techniques after experiencing somatic practices (i.e., exhibited new variety in movement quality and patterns; Weber, 2009). Students also became more aware and embodied, felt empowered and enjoyed a greater sense of well-being, and discovered greater creativity and autonomy within their dance practice (Weber, 2009).
Additionally, somatic practice seemingly affects the agency of the dancers (Berg, 2017; Green, 2000). By facilitating a process by which students are also introduced to how bodies may be socially manipulated, controlled, and habituated, they may be able to take some ownership over their bodies (Berg, 2017; Green, 2000). In another study, students’ participation led to increased growth as improvisers, greater sociopolitical awareness, and a better understanding of how they make informed decisions (Schupp, 2011).
On the negative side, implementing progressive dance pedagogy does not appear to be without its challenges. There seems to be resistance by the student themselves, by students highly socialized into the old way, to find the new, progressive way as a waste of time, ineffective, and troubling. All of which is out of line with the traditional way of teaching and learning in dance, and hence, they reject the implementation process (Alterowitz, 2014; Petsilas et al., 2020; Rimmer, 2017). To fully gain the fully potential of the progressive dance paradigm, a cultural change is needed (Petsilas et al., 2020; Alterowitz, 2014).
Alterowitz, G. (2014). Toward a feminist ballet pedagogy: Teaching strategies for ballet technique classes in the twenty-first century. Journal of Dance Education, 14(1), 8-17.
Berg, T. (2017). Ballet as Somatic Practice: A Case Study Exploring the Integration of Somatic Practices in Ballet Pedagogy. Journal of Dance Education, 17(4), 147-157.
Chua, J. (2017). The influences of an exemplary ballet teacher on students’ motivation:‘The Finnish Way’. Research in Dance Education, 18(1), 3-22.
Green,J. 2000. Emancipatory pedagogy?: Women’s bodies and the creative process in dance. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 21(3): 124–140.
Haraldsen, H. M. (2019). Thriving, striving, or just surviving?: A study of motivational processes among elite junior performers from sports and performing arts. Doctoral thesis, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway.
Hefferon, K. M., & Ollis, S. (2006). ‘Just clicks’: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of professional dancers’ experience of flow. Research in Dance Education, 7(2), 141-159.
Petsilas, P., Leigh, J., Brown, N., & Blackburn, C. (2020). Creative and embodied methods to teach reflections and support students’ learning. In Dance, Professional Practice, and the Workplace (pp. 47-66). Routledge.
Rimmer, R. (2017). Negotiating the rules of engagement: exploring perceptions of dance technique learning through Bourdieu’s concept of ‘doxa’. Research in Dance Education, 18(3), 221-236.
Ritchie, A., & Brooker, F. (2019). Democratic and Feminist Pedagogy in the Ballet Technique Class: Using a Somatic Imagery Tool to Support Learning and Teaching of Ballet in Higher Education. Journal of Dance Education, 1-8.
Roche, J., & Huddy, A. (2015). Creative adaptations: integrating Feldenkrais principles in contemporary dance technique to facilitate the transition into tertiary dance education. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 6(2), 145-158.
Rothmund, I. V. (2019). Å gjøre dansen til sin: Bachelorstudenters levde erfaringer i moderne-og samtidsdans (Doctoral dissertation, Institutionen för kultur och estetik, Stockholms universitet).
Schupp, K. (2011). Informed decisions: Dance improvisation and responsible citizenship. Journal of Dance Education, 11(1), 22-29.
Weber, R. (2009). Integrating semi-structured somatic practices and contemporary dance technique training. Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 1(2), 237-254.
Østern, T. P. (2017). Norske samtidsdansutdanninger i spennet mellom modernisme og postmodernisme-tidligere dansestudenters refleksjoner over påvirkningen av en danseutdanning.