Getting Students to Think Deeply About Dance
How can philosophical reflections about the nature of dance in lessons help students to enhance achievement?
As dance teachers, we often focus on the technical aspects of dance, such as posture, alignment, and movement execution. While these skills are essential for creating beautiful and expressive dance, we should also take the time to explore the philosophy of dance with our students. By encouraging philosophical reflection about the nature and purpose of dance, we can foster a deeper appreciation and understanding of this art form, which can ultimately lead to better performance and engagement from our students.
Dance is more than just a physical activity – it is a form of expression that can convey a wide range of emotions and ideas. By exploring the philosophy of dance, we can help our students understand the significance of the movements they are making and the messages they are conveying through their performances. We can ask them to reflect on questions such as: What is the purpose of dance? What emotions or ideas are we trying to convey through our movements? What role does dance play in society? By engaging in these philosophical discussions, we can help our students develop a deeper connection to their art form and become more thoughtful, intentional performers.
Philosophical reflection can also help students develop critical thinking skills and become more engaged in their dance lessons. When we encourage our students to think deeply about the meaning and purpose of their movements, we are helping them develop their analytical skills and become more aware of their own thought processes. This can lead to a more active and engaged classroom environment, where students are eager to explore new ideas and perspectives.
Moreover, philosophical reflection can also help students become more self-aware and emotionally intelligent. By reflecting on the emotions and ideas that underlie their dance movements, students can become more in tune with their own emotions and learn how to communicate effectively with others. This can ultimately lead to stronger and more impactful performances.
Incorporating philosophical discussions into dance lessons may seem daunting at first, but it doesn't have to be. Start by introducing your students to some basic concepts of dance philosophy, such as the idea of dance as a form of expression or the relationship between dance and culture. You can then ask them open-ended questions that encourage them to reflect on these concepts and share their own thoughts and ideas. You can also assign readings or videos that explore different philosophical perspectives on dance, and then facilitate a discussion or debate about these perspectives in class.
Dance teachers can use their lessons to foster both philosophical and spiritual development in their students. Dance has been an integral part of religious and spiritual traditions throughout human history. From the whirling dervishes of Islam to the ecstatic dancers of the ancient Greek mystery cults, dance has been used as a tool for spiritual development and connection to the divine. As dance teachers, we can draw on this rich history to foster our students' spiritual development and help them tap into the transformative power of dance.
One way to do this is through the practice of ecstatic dance, which is a form of spontaneous, freeform movement that allows individuals to connect with their inner selves and express themselves without judgment or inhibition. Ecstatic dance is often accompanied by live or recorded music, and can be practiced in groups or alone. It is a powerful tool for self-discovery and spiritual growth, and can be integrated into dance lessons to create a more holistic and transformative learning experience.
The spiritual benefits of dance are numerous. First and foremost, dance allows us to connect with our bodies and our emotions in a way that is often difficult to achieve through other means. By moving our bodies in sync with music, we can release pent-up emotions and gain a greater sense of physical and emotional awareness. This can lead to a sense of inner peace and balance, as well as increased resilience in the face of life's challenges.
Dance also allows us to connect with something greater than ourselves. Whether we are dancing in a group or alone, the act of moving to music can create a sense of unity and connection with others, as well as a greater connection to the natural world and the divine. This sense of connection can foster feelings of compassion, gratitude, and humility, and can help us develop a greater sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.
As dance teachers, we can foster our students' spiritual development by incorporating ecstatic dance practices into our lessons. This might involve setting aside time for freeform dance, either alone or in groups, or incorporating live music into our classes to create a more immersive and transformative experience. We can also encourage our students to reflect on their experiences and emotions during and after dancing, and to explore the spiritual and emotional dimensions of dance through reading and discussion.
Dance teachers have the unique opportunity to help our students connect with the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of dance. By exploring the history of dance in religious and spiritual traditions, and incorporating practices like ecstatic dance into our lessons, we can foster our students' spiritual development and help them tap into the transformative power of dance. By encouraging philosophical reflection about the nature and purpose of dance, we can also help our students develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of this art form, which can ultimately lead to better performance and engagement from our students. So let us not forget the transformative power of dance and the potential it holds for our students' spiritual growth and development.