Findings demonstrate that teaching dance has to a great extent been based on the traditionalistic view. In two studies of Norwegian dance students a dance culture underpins the docile body (Andresen, 2011; Nordgård & Haugland, 2014). This led to a reproduction of skills and delivery of choreographic material rather than individual explorations and individuation by enabling the student’s ability to think, act, be creative and different from others (Andresen, 2011; Nordgård & Haugland, 2014).
In another study of Norwegian bachelor students in classical ballet, the teachers were viewed as authority figures and gatekeepers, holding a lot of power (Haraldsen et al., 2020, 2021), which align with international findings (Green, 1999) of dance teachers wanting to be endlessly admired and worshipped (Keinanen, 2003). From the young dancers’ perspective this seems to be interpreted as ‘nothing is good enough’, ‘you’re not allowed to make mistakes’ and ‘it’s not perfect yet’, alongside an evident behavior of constant searching for the teachers’ conditional regard and approvement (Pickard, 2012).
Also, findings linked to traditionalism teaching reveal a preoccupation on developing technique over the process of engaging in style and choreographic material (Morris, 2003), where the teachers’ role is delivery of performance goals. When dance is taught only as the replication of steps, as a closed system in which the ends are preset and the outcomes tightly controlled, the kind of inquiry, imaginative thinking, and discovery necessary for professional dance artist of the 21st are delayed (Rimmer, 2017; Østern, 2017).
Furthermore, the authoritarian pedagogical practice was found to be maintained through socialization, something actively promoted to students as a pedagogic ideal (Rowe & Xiong, 2020). Similarly, there seems to be a lack of awareness and focus of the ‘how’ of teaching, and studies have identified the existence of a lot of ‘hidden curriculum’ (Lakes, 2005; Østern & Irgens, 2018).
Paradoxically, ‘how’ teaching and learning dance and choreographic processes are led and organized, seem to matter the most regarding the quality of student experiences (Østern & Irgens, 2018). When comparing experiences of dance teaching and choreographic processes, there seem to be more positive experiences from participating in choreographic processes than in dance technique classes (Haraldsen et al., 2020; Østern & Irgens, 2018).
Negative associations were associated with experiences of colonization, brainwashing, being used, distrust, copying, limiting, hierarchical lines, disempowerment, fixating, and non-dialogical working methods (Østern & Irgens, 2018).
However, there is recent evidence of an ongoing shift towards a more student-centered and progressive teaching paradigm in current dance education. In the Western societies we can see these changes over a period of the last fifty years and probably most evident in the last decades (Dragon, 2015).
These changes are evident both in the education of dancers as well as in the demands of dancers in the professional working field today (Andresen, 2015). In Norway, the shift is evident in the 2006 curriculum reform, documented by a shift of focus away from dance as only technique and performance towards dance as an academic discipline. In dance teaching, we have seen the shift in the way technical, creative, and reflective aspects of dance have been integrated (Andresen, 2015).
Furthermore, the teaching based on this curriculum, are found to be highly student-centered (Larsen, 2015). Today, professional dancers are not just expected to be instruments for a choreographer. They are expected to take part in and contribute to the creative process, and many choreographers are interested in letting their dancers express themselves as individuals in the dance.
This requires a more student-centered approach (Andresen, 2011). When students and dancers engage in such progressive practices, research findings document enhanced experiences of freedom, meaningfulness, non-hierarchical lines, mutual respect, transformative learning, personal development, listening, and collaboration (Nordgård & Haugland, 2014; Østern & Irgens, 2018.
Reflective practice is one important characterization of student-centered teaching. Teachers seem to incorporate a variety of methods to support their students’ reflection processes. The teaching methods most often used were the following (Leijen et al., 2008) :
- teachers asking questions and providing feedback
- peer-feedback activities
- individual and group discussions
- viewing and analyzing video recordings of students’ practices.
However, research shows that there are some challenges in applying reflective practice in its full sense in dance teaching (Leijen et al., 2008, 2009). Additionally, the type of reflection used so far the most is a reflection on how to apply technical concepts and principles.
Whereas facilitating student reflections on awareness of oneself and bodily possibilities, the role of own personality, identity, and cultural background in relation to practice seemed to be less used and were seen by some dance technique teachers as the responsibility of the students alone, something that had to be addressed outside of class (Leijen et al., 2008).
In another study of dance teachers that explored the challenges they encountered with students in their pedagogical practice of reflection, findings identified the following obstacles:
- general difficulties (i.e., low reflective experience, lack of writing skills, dealing with personal stuff)
- difficulties describing an experience (i.e., observing skills, discrepancy between doing and awareness)
- difficulties evaluating an experience (i.e., waiting for the teacher to provide feedback, negative focus, lack of criteria for evaluation)
- difficulties relating to multiple perspectives (i.e., self-centered, shyness, lack of independence).
Additionally, it seemed difficult for students to question teachers’ comments and authority and share their own ideas with classmates (Leijen et al., 2009).
During the past 20 years, intervention studies and action research on dance practice exploring how to apply a more progressive dance pedagogy in practice as well as investigating effects of these practices have been published.
|Reference||Main pilot focus||Main results||Population|
|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.||Teaching ballet in a non-authoritarian manner, examining a pedagogical approach in which alternative teacher–student relationships are created and practiced. Strategies that encourage individual inquiry, self-discovery, and collaboration.||Greater comprehension comes from learning with both mind and body, enhanced engagement, and motivation.||Classical ballet course in HE- setting|
|Andersen, H. (2018). Somatics, Transfer Theory, and Learning: Six Case Studies. Journal of Dance Education, 18(4), 164-175.||This mixed methods study investigates the juncture of dance science, somatics, and contemporary modern dance training, and how they intertwine with learning processes and skill execution through transfer theory focusing on the ‘how’ in the process and dancers’ understanding of their own movement potential, enabling a reflexivity in their ability to adapt to different environments and movement vocabularies.||The results show dancers’ participation in the eight-week somatic training workshop yielded growth in learning and skill execution in all participants. This growth was exhibited in overall skill improvement and partial skill improvement. A transfer of learning from knowledge into technical skills is best facilitated by seeing images, dialoguing, bringing awareness to movement through imagery, somatic training, and verbal cuing, giving and receiving feedback.||BA students at HE- dance education, age 18-25|
|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.||This case study highlights the teacher’s unique teaching method called IMAGE TECH for dancers (ITD) and offers evidence to support ITD as a somatic approach to ballet pedagogy. This data illustrates the pedagogical innovation involved in the teacher’s communication with her ballet students, which moves away from traditional authoritarian teaching practices to develop autonomous, creative, and empowered dancers.||The integration of somatic practices in ballet training has the potential to use the dancers’ internal awareness of kinesthetic sensation as a tool. The teacher’s kinesthetic advice accompanied the images used in ITD, fostering flexibility within the vocabulary to facilitate the adaptation of the concepts for individual dancers, subsequently shifting the authority from teacher to student.||One ballet teacher and a class of students at a post-secondary institution offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree|
|Lin, Y. N., Hsia, L. H., Sung, M. Y., & Hwang, G. H. (2019). Effects of integrating mobile technology-assisted peer assessment into flipped learning on students’ dance skills and self-efficacy. Interactive Learning Environments, 27(8), 995-1010.||In the present study, an approach which integrates mobile peer assessment into flipped learning is proposed. A 9-week experiment was conducted to explore the effects of the approach on students’ dance skills, self-efficacy, and learning satisfaction||The results indicated that the students learning with the integrated mobile peer assessment and flipped learning approach had better dance skills than those learning with the conventional flipped learning approach and traditional instruction. In terms of self-efficacy and learning satisfaction, the students learning with the conventional flipped learning approach outperformed those learning with the traditional instruction. However, the flipped learning approach integrating mobile technology-assisted peer assessment did not significantly improve the students’ self-confidence.||Undergraduate students from three general education dance classes, all beginners|
|Minton, S. C., & Hofmeister, J. (2010). The International Baccalaureate Dance Programme: Learning skills for life in the 21st century. Journal of Dance Education, 10(3), 67-76.||This study explores how a group of International Baccalaureate (IB) dance students constructed meaning from their dance experiences.||Similarities and connections were found between the themes identified from the IB Dance experiences, and the 21st-century skills of being accountable, flexible, socially responsible, communicative, creative, collaborative, self-directed, and a critical thinker who can reason, make choices, and solve problems.||IB Dance students|
|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.||We describe a project that introduced the use of creative methods for teaching reflection and reflective practice.||Findings showed that the dedicated reflective practice sessions were of value to the dance students, but the level of understanding of the relevance of structured reflective practice varied. In order to support reflective practice at every level, it needs to be an integrated part of the culture.||Students at Rambert School of dance|
|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.||Explored the use of enquiry-based learning approaches to teaching dance technique in higher education. Grounded in transformative and constructivist learning perspectives, such approaches attempted to develop students’ reflective thinking skills, with a view to enabling them to become active agents of their learning in dance technique||Upon arriving at university, the students had formed pre-conceived ‘doxic’ understandings of dance technique, shaping their perceptions of how they were expected to behave in technique classes. Describing technique as being ‘rigid’ and ‘set’, the students appear to identify it as being distinct from other areas of dance education such as choreography and improvisation. the students appear to perceive each teacher to have their own ‘style’ of teaching, requiring them to enter classes with ‘different head[s]. The students were not as challenged by the enquiry-based learning approaches as anticipated, and consequently the doxic understanding of dance technique largely remained intact.||HE- dance technique class|
|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.||Testing progressivism teaching and learning ballet technique through a somatic imaginary tool; using dialogue, discussion, and self-authorship||Increased learning outcome, clarity in movement, increased fluency, increased student engagement and motivation||Classical ballet course in HE- setting|
|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.||A project that introduces somatic learning approaches, primarily from Feldenkrais Method and Hanna Somatics, focusing on ‘creative autonomy’ and including important processing skills: problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, persistence, adaptability, and autonomy.||The students reported that they initially felt insecure, vulnerable, and intimidated due to not knowing each other. The process helped them to begin to know each other, which supported the transition into university. The sessions helped students to focus their attention on personal development rather than establishing a competitive working environment, and they became more reflective.||First year’s student in HE-setting|
|Schupp, K. (2011). Informed decisions: Dance improvisation and responsible citizenship. Journal of Dance Education, 11(1), 22-29.||Examined a constructivist approach to integrating responsible citizenship and dance improvisation. Through participating in improvisational and sociopolitical tasks and comprehensive written reflection, students new to improvisation were better able to understand their choice-making processes.||Their participation led to increased growth as improvisers, greater sociopolitical awareness, and a better understanding of how they make informed decisions. This article offers insightful and helpful information about pedagogy that advances artistry, advocacy, and self-awareness.||Dance major classes in HE- setting|
|Seago, C. (2020). A study of the perception and use of attention in undergraduate dance training classes. Research in Dance Education, 21(3), 245-261.||A main aim of this research has been to develop strategies for encouraging agency in young dancers’ through explore awareness of attentional choices in undergraduate dance students.||It was evident that students possessed only a limited awareness and had not previously considered the effect of different modes, targets, and qualities of attention. The intervention helped students to access different kinds of attention and they felt more able to cross-reference experiences and practices. Increased attentional awareness enabled progress in their dancing which enhanced their understanding and performance.||Undergraduate HE- dance students (3 male/13 female), identifying as white British, contemporary dance|
|Spohn, C., & Spickard Prettyman, S. (2012). Moving is like making out: Developing female university dancers’ ballet technique and expression through the use of metaphor. Research in Dance Education, 13(1), 47-65.||This qualitative study explored the use of metaphor within a somatic context as a means to bridge the divide between technique and expression. Imagery is a common teaching tool employed by dance instructors and somatic practitioners to help students learn skills, to promote creativity, and to develop dance students’ technique, artistry, and overall performance. Metaphors have the potential to engage dance students in active learning since students must interpret the metaphor and then respond with physical action||Findings indicate that the use of metaphors helped female students simultaneously realize their expressive and technical potentials through associations with meaningful personal experiences. Ballet technique became less about the labor involved and more about creating opportunities to experience pleasure in movement. Ultimately, students were able to formulate their own metaphors and used their imagination to establish personal connections to movement. These findings suggest the power of metaphor, and broader somatic approaches, as tools for ballet educators to help students transcend the dualism between technique and expression.||Undergraduate advanced intermediate ballet classes|
|Weber, R. (2009). Integrating semi-structured somatic practices and contemporary dance technique training. Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 1(2), 237-254||The research, consisted of a series of somatically informed contemporary dance technique classes in order to allow students more tools from which to build a healthy, embodied practice. Working within either of these frameworks, practitioners rely on the autonomy of clients/students to realign and re-pattern through somatic awareness of what feels pleasurable or ‘good’.||Results of the study included students’ displaying enhanced bodily connection, creativity, confidence, and critical understanding of tenets underlying somatic work, as well as some implications for dance technique. Students became more aware and embodied; felt empowered and enjoyed a greater sense of well-being throughout their dancing; appreciated tools for movement initiation; exhibited new variety in movement quality and patterns; and discovered greater creativity and autonomy within their dance practice.||a first-year college dance programme, US|
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.
Andersen, H. (2018). Somatics, Transfer Theory, and Learning: Six Case Studies. Journal of Dance Education, 18(4), 164-175.
Andresen, J. V. E. (2011). Embodied knowledge in high-school dance students; communicating the bodily experience (Master’s thesis, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, Det humanistiske fakultet, Institutt for musikk).
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.
Dragon, D. A. (2015). Creating cultures of teaching and learning: Conveying dance and somatic education pedagogy. Journal of Dance Education, 15(1), 25-32.
Green, J. 1999. Somatic authority and the myth of the ideal body in dance education. Dance Research Journal, 31(2): 80–100.
Haraldsen, H. M., Abrahamsen, F. E., Solstad, B. E., & Halvari, H. (2021). Narrative Tensions in Strained Junior Elite Performers’ Experiences of Becoming Elite Performers. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 1767.
Haraldsen, H. M., Nordin-Bates, S. M., Abrahamsen, F. E., & Halvari, H. (2020). Thriving, Striving, or Just Surviving? TD Learning Conditions, Motivational Processes and Well-Being Among Norwegian Elite Performers in Music, Ballet, and Sport. Roeper Review, 42(2), 109-125.
Keinanen, M. O. (2003). Two styles of mentoring: A comparison of vertical and horizontal mentoring in dance. Harvard University.
Lakes, R. (2005). The messages behind the methods: The authoritarian pedagogical legacy in western concert dance technique training and rehearsals. Arts Education Policy Review, 106(5), 3-20.
Leijen, Ä., Lam, I., Simons, P. R. J., & Wildschut, L. (2008). Pedagogical practices of reflection in tertiary dance education. European physical education review, 14(2), 223-241.
Leijen, Ä., Lam, I., Wildschut, L., & Simons, P. R. J. (2009). Difficulties teachers report about students’ reflection: Lessons learned from dance education. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3), 315-326.
Lin, Y. N., Hsia, L. H., Sung, M. Y., & Hwang, G. H. (2019). Effects of integrating mobile technology-assisted peer assessment into flipped learning on students’ dance skills and self-efficacy. Interactive Learning Environments, 27(8), 995-1010.
Minton, S. C., & Hofmeister, J. (2010). The International Baccalaureate Dance Programme: Learning skills for life in the 21st century. Journal of Dance Education, 10(3), 67-76.
Nordgård, A., & Haugland, T. (2014). To læringsperspektiv i jazzdans: Fra formidlingspreget danseundervisning til prosessorientert læringsfokus (Master’s thesis, Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus).
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.
Pickard, A. (2012). Schooling the dancer: The evolution of an identity as a ballet dancer. Research in Dance Education, 13(1), 25-46.
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.
Schupp, K. (2011). Informed decisions: Dance improvisation and responsible citizenship. Journal of Dance Education, 11(1), 22-29.
Seago, C. (2020). A study of the perception and use of attention in undergraduate dance training classes. Research in Dance Education, 21(3), 245-261.
Spohn, C., & Spickard Prettyman, S. (2012). Moving is like making out: Developing female university dancers’ ballet technique and expression through the use of metaphor. Research in Dance Education, 13(1), 47-65.
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.
Østern, T. P., & Irgens, E. J. (2018). Interfering with the lived field of dance pedagogy from organizational and leadership studies perspectives–an explorative intervention with performing and teaching dance artists. Research in Dance Education, 19(1), 57-73.