I am a strong believer in cultivating intelligence in dancers. Intelligence goes beyond the moves of dance and incorporates vocabulary, origin, spelling, history, professionalism, and purpose.
If dancers are taught via an “intelligent” approach, they will have a lifelong, deeper connection, understanding, and appreciation for dance and the performing arts.
Here is an example: one Junior Jazz Class (ages 8-10), I decided to distribute a worksheet of signature Fosse movements. During the class, we discussed Bob Fosse, reviewed some video clips of some signature Fosse shows, and learned the original choreography to the ‘Hot Honey Rag’. The students left the class with the homework assignment of reviewing their worksheet and practicing the signature Fosse moves. Part of me assumed that the worksheet would make its way straight to the trashcan and the students would never think about it again, but another part of me hoped that this would instill an excitement for a dance legend that heavily influenced jazz and musical theatre. In the weeks that followed, something really amazing happened—the students were excited, eager, and hungry to learn more about Fosse. I would hear them whispering about Fosse in the hall and practicing their new moves. I was very excited, and they were, too!
Similarly, other students find equal excitement through dance-themed spelling tests, spelling bees, quizzes, flashcards, and games. Through these activities, the discussion can lead to a greater understanding of technique and a heightened awareness of “dance intelligence”.
Try it, and see what happens at your studio! And, if you have methods for cultivating intelligence in your dancers, please feel free to share in the comments below.
Here’s to a week of wonderful dancing!