Today's topic will cover some recent news I overheard. My old dance studio cut all recreational classes and students are only allowed in if they pass an exam. ... What? This has not been 100% confirmed yet, but I'm going to rant about it anyway because it affects children and their arts education.
The studio is known for being exceptional and has won several awards from many competitions over the years. The teachers are knowledgeable and qualified, each coming from an extensive dance background. The building is fairly large with two huge studio rooms and one small room for young children and the drama class. There's a built-in dance store where you can buy all the apparel you need and a waiting area with dance books and toys for children. The used to offer classes for many different levels. Ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, pointe class, hip hop, boys only classes, musical theatre, tap... everything. They were separated by level for recreational dancers who just wanted to dance for fun. There was Beginner, Junior, Intermediate, Senior, and Adult. For the more dedicated dancers, there were Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabus classes and Canadian Dance Teacher's Association (CDTA) syllabus classes, which were graded from 1-8, Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced Foundation, Advanced, and Pre-Professional. These classes required their students to pass an exam before going on to the next grade. If you were good enough, you can skip grades without taking exams. When I first started, I was placed in Grade 6 Ballet and Intermediate Foundation Ballet. I also took Senior Ballet, Senior Jazz, and Senior Modern for recreational fun, since I liked to dance sometimes without someone making sure everything was absolutely perfect and well-placed on my body. Now those classes are cut.
What happens to the dancers who just want to dance for fun? What happens to the dancers who aren't good enough to pass the exams but still want the physical fitness dance has to offer?
I believe in having a strong foundation in dance and having that firm discipline, but c'mon. Not everyone is going to want to be a professional. Many dancers were asked to leave and drop their classes, including my friend who had been dancing there for thirteen years. She was never good enough to take exams, but she enjoyed moving to the music and learning new steps. It was just a hobby for her. Young children also need that "fun" in dance before they should decide if they want syllabus classes or not. Syllabus classes are also really expensive. I was lucky enough to get my syllabus classes for free of charge, courtesy of my dance studios. Exam classes also require expensive uniforms. Depending of your level, you will need a solid coloured leotard, usually black. Sleeved or sleevless. V-necked, or scoop-necked. Ballet pink tights, pink ballet slippers or pointe shoes, hair in a tight bun with absolutely no wisps of hair sticking out, and everything must be clean of any floor markings or dirt. In recreational classes, you are free to wear anything that is comfortable to move in. I've even seen some people wear jeans to class, which made me cringe, but reminded me of the freedom people were allowed.
Now there is no freedom. Everything is restricted. It's not really fair to those who don't want that added stress of dance exams on top of regular school exams. For the studio to cut recreational dance classes is just insane. How does this contribute to the fun of dance? It doesn't.
That is my rant for today! I will try to update more often on this blog, but it's hard to keep up! Bye for now!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
My first time using movie maker! I got help with audio and music from my friend Jarrett. The images are from some galleries of ballet dancers, featuring Gillian Murphy and the American Ballet Theatre. I don't have any images of my own on the university desktop, so I did the best I could. Hope you enjoy it!
Video put together by: Marie Sanderson
With the assistance of: Jarrett Crowe
Images by: Corbis and Gene Schiavone
Music by: Tchaikovsky
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
This image was taken courtesy from nellyfus 's Flickr photo gallery. It was originally titled "Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour 2010". I cropped it and added text of a Lady Gaga quote, which was one of my favourites.
I chose this image because of the dramatic lighting and dark background. There's so much passion shown in the way her head is thrown back, as if she's throwing her entire self into her music.
The quote is interesting to me and I find it to be very inspirational toward my teaching style. As an Arts Ed. teacher, it is my job to unleash the creativity within children and youth. When I was young, my art was always restricted once I moved up into contests and competitions. It caused me to lose the source of creativity I had as a child. I'm currently trying to find it again. Artists have to work toward being original, otherwise their art isn't theirs. Lady Gaga is always critiqued as pushing the limits and being an awful excuse for an artist, but I admire her a lot. She's different and unafraid; two things I want to be, but that's hard to accomplish in today's world.
I know she isn't the best role model to idolize for a teacher, but it isn't the way she dresses or the way she acts on stage that I'm idolizing. Her lyrics can get pretty bad, too, for young innocent ears. It's the passion she throws into her work and the message she's trying to send that intrigues me. She tries to make people become less afraid of who they are and embrace their imperfections. She's not scared of people's opinions, and states: "well, that's your opinion, isn't it? And I'm not about to waste my time trying to change it." This is a great message for people who are different, like homosexuals, bisexuals, transexuals... people who are yet to be fully accepted into society yet live amongst us everyday.
She is a bit over-the-top, I admit. I wouldn't expose her to my students in an elementary setting. I'm sure that would get me fired straight away. But high school students are a whole other story. They need to feel loved for who they are, no matter who that person is. Another one of my favourite quotes by her is: "I want women - and men - to feel empowered by a deeper and more psychotic part of themselves. The part they're always trying desperately to hide. I want that to become something that they cherish." This is important for people who are suffocating in their current, suppressing lives to hear. I hope to send this message to my older students and give a more watered-down dose to my younger students.