Understanding Dance Classroom Vocabulary

Updated: Jun 4

‘Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.’ –Aristotle There is misunderstanding on social media discussion boards. When a teacher shouts out “who has a jazz syllabus” there are many responses. For dancers, the term syllabus often refers to a ballet syllabus. The definition of a syllabus is: an outline of the subjects in a course of study or teaching. For the dance classroom this should imply each dance subject genre, for each age grouping, for multiple levels based on the number of hours spent in the dance classroom, which includes the number of years the student is studying. That’s quite a list, let’s explore. WHAT IS THE DANCE CLASSROOM? This one is easy, it is where prior to COVID, our in person classes are taught. Now because of COVID, studios have adapted to a hybrid model, teaching class in person to some and others virtually via ZOOM. Some studios are offering another step, on demand-streaming classes, pre-taped, that can be watched at the child and parent’s convenience. Prior to COVID, it was defined by the physical space in a studio, what is in it, mirrors, barres, floor gym mats, decorated with images or in some cases a brand logos stenciled on a wall. WHAT IS DANCE SUBJECT GENRE Dance teachers-instructors know that this is defined as categories offered in dance competitions. For dance studios their web pages shout we offer ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip-hop, street, break, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, and of course more. Studios should consider what they are teaching and why? Which age classes and subject matter are the most populated and currently pay most of your expenses? WHAT ARE THE DANCE FRAMEWORKS This is a relatively new term for dance. Public education has frameworks for its subject genre, which specifies what children should learn at each grade level, in multiple subjects, before progressing to the next grade. Of course, states go to great lengths to modify these frameworks with committees. Children with specific needs are no longer segregated into special classes, but are acknowledge and integrated into classrooms, where teachers give them extra time and work they can accomplish. Other modifications now meet the use of technology, due to COVID, and public education is teaching the next generation of workers skilled and unskilled. What are your methods for moving children forward if they return each year? Does your facility use terms like recreational, community, enrichment, competitive, intensive? Are you stating you have levels? If so who creates the levels and how are they understood by parents? What are your dance frameworks, what each child can complete by the end of a semester, term, 6-week themed class, or other modifications used in your dance classroom? HOW IS DANCE CURRICULUM DEFINED? What is it? This can be defined as what specific skills you teach in each class, for each grade, for each dance subject genre you advertise?. Have you trained your faculty to all present the same skills in each class they teach based on what you the owner and faculty have agreed upon for each dance subject and school grade level? Have you defined the structure based on time constraints of each class for students? Example how does your jazz class for school grades 1 & 2 start? Center floor barre, progressing to floor flexibility stretches, to across the floor technique in turns and jumps, to a combination that becomes part of a performance routine? Are there expectations for the class to attain so the end of the season performance reflects what these expectations are? Do you offer rubrics for success, something many parents may now expect? COVID has changed parental expectations in public education. Do you have them for dance education and your facility too? HOW DANCE UNIT PLANS WORK Unit plans are how one defines a specific time frame of dance class learning. For dance it can be 36 weeks divided into four segments for a specific dance subject, in other words what are you telling your faculty to cover in an eight-week time frame. Your recreational-community-enrichment students attend class on a once-a-week basis. That is approximately 6 hours of on task learning for each child. You should ask yourself the following questions. How did I encourage student memory retention? What rubrics did I design to hand out when a parent asks, What is she/he learning in class? OR How well is my child keeping up with the others? Did you create rubrics or student-parent reports for each of the 8-week sessions? Did you create handouts for the preschoolers to color with a list of what they learned based on their monthly class themes? WHY YOU NEED WEEKLY DANCE CLASSROOM LESSON PLANS Lesson plans can be as simple as a checklist for an owner to review as to what a teacher is teaching and accomplished to a video review of a class, which I think is better. Keeping records of absences in a class is helpful for tuition, creating a video of class performance at the beginning and end of an 8-week term is better. Videos can be used by an owner for faculty evaluations for continued employment by a facility. Questions? Call 781-742-3173 Monday to Friday from 10:00AM to 3:00 PM EST.


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