A small group of educators stretched, flexed, and moved with a big stick, exploring new ways to incorporate dance movement in classroom teaching. They attended The Southeast Center for Education in the Arts’ (SCEA) sixth annual Arts & Education Forum at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“Help your students build a movement vocabulary,” suggested Ann Law, the founder and director of Barking Legs Theater in Chattanooga and founding member of Chattanooga Dance Projects, an organization of professional dancers.
“Dance is where you get your creative juices flowing.”
Ms. Law explained that “if students don’t get in their bodies, they can’t make work.” So while teachers encourage students to relax their skeletal systems and get in touch with their muscular systems, all that movement stimulates their minds.
“You can use dance in anything you teach—mythology, math forms, anything. You are only limited by your imagination,” Ms. Law explained.
Participants in the SCEA forum considered many topics in a variety of sessions. They looked at how the tools used by learners and teachers are changing. They pondered what it means to be an artist today and how arts education and professional development can respond to changing artistic practice. And they discussed how to use evolving technologies to positively impact collaboration.
Though much of Ms. Law’s presentation was low tech, she said she uses an overhead projector in her movement exercises. One participant remarked that she really enjoyed the non-verbal dance experience.
“So much of life is non-verbal. Dance in the classroom can help students communicate and understand culture. This stimulates students and at the same time, helps them to become more grounded,” said Rebekah Mawuko of Chattanooga.