The Fate of Dance

I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis July 2019. By that time it had generalized throughout my body, greatly limiting all that I do physically. As a way of coping with this change, I joined a Facebook group devoted to people coping with this illness. Quickly, I realized that I was one of the lucky ones that was diagnosed through bloodwork. Many others on the site have gone through the mill trying to get diagnosed only to be told that their symptoms were in their heads or its something else. It seems to me that there are some medical professionals that prefer to pass the buck rather than help with solving the problem…failure of imagination.

When I taught dance to the 5th graders at The Paul Robeson School in Brooklyn, my objective was less about teaching them how to dance and more about teaching them how  to solve problems as a group. I did this by using the scientific method to solve problems to questions by the use of movement…MOVEMENT, not DANCE. If a form of dance was required through discovery to solve a problem, then it was up to me to provide what was necessary for my students to learn the dance form in order to solve the problem. It was a living, breathing unit plan that ebbed and flowed based on creativity and imagination.

I’ve discovered that with dance in the public school system, there is nothing that states that we as dance educators should meet every person where they are. Instead, we are expected to treat our students as empty vessels. On the contrary, I believe that we should step into the dance studio with the assumption that our students already know how to dance. Our responsibility is to use what they know, provide them with what they don’t know and guide them on how to use this knowledge for the betterment of their future. Right now, we are just teaching them forms and they are repeating these forms on stage so that their parents and caregivers can be happy, the teacher can earn the coveted highly effective rating, and for the bureaucracy to say that dance is working. When the children graduate…where do they go…what do they do?

Going back to the beginning of this posting, some medical professionals suffer the same fate. They are forced fed information without the ability to take the patients knowledge into account, synthesizing it with what they know and taking it a bit further to see what the cause of illness may be even if it falls outside of the prevue of their expertise…failure of imagination.

Dance needs to be viable, meaning that it needs to be, “capable of surviving or living successfully, especially under particular environmental conditions.” If this doesn’t happen, it will always be as it exists today…extracurricular activity.

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