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By Rashmi Khanna

(Collaborative Practice- Dance Movement Therapy)

Theoretical dance in education or TDIE is the art and science of teaching dance to students with innovative teaching methods. It helps create ‘Temenos’, a Greek word meaning ‘sacred space’ where anything can happen and children can learn, respond, create, perform and appreciate dance. TDIE understands the structural aspect of teaching dance like the length of a session, lesson plan, objectives, connecting lesson plans and connecting from simple to complex. TDIE also helps in developing skills as a facilitator. It assists in the development of a curriculum. It is co-curricular as well as cross-curricular. It involves movement assessment and evaluation. For example, if we have to deal with a hyperactive group, we can design a curriculum where this situation is confronted. It customises dance for various age-groups.

The objectives of TDIE:

  • It enables creative self-expression/ entity
  • It increases range of motion
  • It promotes physical fitness
  • It generates socio-cultural awareness, as it incorporates elements from classical as well as folk elements or any other dance form or movement from any any part of the world or imagination.
  • It assists in skill development as it uses hand gestures, movements in space, rhythm etc
  • It promotes holistic personality development such as improving eye contact and confidence
  • It involves the therapeutic value of dance like creating a safe space for emotional expression, unifying the mind body and soul etc
  • It amalgamates dance with education. For example, teaching maths, science or history through dance

TDI involves many creative movements in the following ways:

  1. It helps in learning the alphabets of dance.
  2. It works with the universal principles of dance, rather than its technique. These 5 techniques are body, space, time, energy and motion.
  3. It helps in building a Personal Movement Language (PML). Literally, it means creating your own personal movement. TDIE does not super impose movement on the group. Instead, it draws movement from the individual. It works on the belief that dance is primal and needs to be tapped out.
  4. Spontaneity is a crucial aspect of TDIE.
  5. It channelises and stimulates our mind-body connection.
  6. It isn’t just about abstract movement but also about expressive movement.
  7. It is non-competitive, simple, exploratory and emphasises the importance of individuality. Therefore, students learn about their bodies.

To achieve the above, TDIE requires a movement activity basket which is derived from Dance Therapy. This basket includes about forty-five topics including body coordination, eye contact etc. It has many prefabricated activities, but we have the freedom to add many more of our choice to it. It also contains rituals for educators as it is important for their self-care as well.

Therapeutic choreographies are also a part of TDIE. Using the above activity basket, a movement curriculum is created in the following six stages:

  1. Movement Initiation: It entails seeding a movement into the body. It should be done playfully to achieve complete movement potential.
  2. Movement Development: It helps add to the repertoire by challenging the students to take more risks.
  3. Interactive Movement: It includes mirroring, shadowing, group sculpture. All these activities assist in developing bonding between the group members.
  4. Movement Narrative or Theme: It involves visualising a movement and expressing it through the body.
  5. Prefabricated Movement: It helps initiate, learn and memorise a structured movement.
  6. Dance Choreography: One can create his or her own meaningful movement.

For each of the above stages, there are various activities to achieve them.

According to Educational technology, there are six different ways in which people learn:

  1. Passive Learning: One learns without questioning. There is only one-way communication. For example, in the case of classical dancing. Here, the teacher teaches in a structured way and the student has to learn in the exact same manner without questioning it.
  2. Interactive Learning: It involves two-way communication wherein the students interact with the teacher as well as with the other co-students.
  3. Experiential Learning: It entails physicalising everything and practically doing things experientially.
  4. Collaborative Learning: It involves equal partnership of people.
  5. Emergent Learning: It is the learning derived from a difficulty that emerged in the group.
  6. Latent Learning: It is the learning that develops through observation. It is the internalisation of experience, but its outcome comes later. It is not immediate.

Every collaborator, instructor or teacher should be aware of their teaching technique. According to Jacqueline Autard, there are three models of Dance in Education.

The first model is called the Educational Model. It is more process oriented. It includes exploration, creativity, spontaneity, personal experience, the five movement principles, absence of technique, use of open methods and no performances. It creates more movement material. Such a model proved very useful in primary schools.

The second model is called the Professional Model. In this case, the product is more important. This model is performance oriented. There is concentration on any one dance form. Hence, it is very structured. Technique become extremely significant. It is also lengthy in terms of time scale. For example, mastering a classical dance takes many arduous hours and years of practice.

The third model is called the Mid-way Model: It is a combination of the both the above models. It employs the five principles of movement alongwith the open and closed methods, ie, free movement and structured movement.

Structure of a session:

There are eight steps used in a session. These are:

  1. Review
  2. Body prep
  3. Exploring an idea
  4. Developing a skill
  5. Creative movement
  6. Movement technique
  7. Cool down and ending
  8. Verbal reflection

Academics through Dance:

Dance is used as a teaching technique to reinforce and sustain interest in academic subjects. The collaborators encourage the group the “Dance the lesson” so that they can memorize the concepts with greater ease. This can be achieved in 2 ways:

  1. Utilisation of movement activities already existent to teach a concept. These are pre-existing activities. For example, the solid, liquids and gas activity. The children huddle tightly to become the atoms of a solid, slightly more scattered to become the atoms of a liquid and extremely far away to demonstrate the atoms of gases.
  2. Choosing a topic and creating an activity for it. Improvisation may be used in this activity, i.e., would it be a locomotor or non-locomotor activity, would it be structured or improvised etc.

Dance Therapy in Theoretical Dance Education (TDIE) is a dynamic fusion of art and science, revolutionizing dance instruction with innovative methods. TDIE, creating a ‘Temenos’ or sacred space for learning, transcends conventional teaching structures. It nurtures creative self-expression, enhances physical fitness, and fosters socio-cultural awareness through diverse dance forms. TDIE’s unique approach, focusing on spontaneity and individuality, involves a movement activity basket drawn from Dance Therapy. The curriculum unfolds through six stages, culminating in students creating their meaningful choreography. TDIE, embracing various learning styles, employs three models of Dance in Education and eight structured session steps, effectively integrating dance into academics for a holistic learning experience. TDIE not only enriches dance education but also effortlessly combines with academic subjects, offering a intense and inclusive learning experience for students of diverse ages and backgrounds.


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