Friday, 17 May 2013

Reflections and acknowledgements

I really enjoy the Critical Reflection moment as it is such a great boost seeing just how much further I've progressed since starting both this module and the BAPP course.
I read my module 1 critical reflection to remind me of where I was at the end of 2012 and it really helped me to see that yes, I have gained new skills in module 2 but I've also developed existing skills from the last module and assimilated theory with skill into practice.
It's such a great feeling to know that everything I've done, read, shared or discussed has not only made the inquiry process exciting, even if it was a little challenging at times, but really made a difference to how I see myself, as teacher, and how I approach my students.
At the end of the day, whether I achieve my degree or not, it's got to be about becoming a better teacher, hasn't it?

It's been a really great term for developing friendships and connections with my fellow BAPPers and a big thanks to everyone who took the time to complete my surveys, comment on my blog, enter into SIG discussions or share in moments of panic! I really don't think any of this would have been as insightful, or fun, without you.

Hope everyone is feeling proud of their achievements.


Bring on the inquiry!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Critical Reflection on Professional Practitioner Inquiry

I appreciate, even more so than after Module 1, that everything is connected (Appendix A) yet totally dependent on personal bias, engagement with others, openness and inquisitiveness.
For this Critical Reflection, however, I have divided the text into three more easily identifiable areas of learning.

1. Work-based Learning
Greater interaction with fellow professionals in this module has proven even more the importance of building and maintaining, through active engagement, strong relationships within my community of practice, allowing me to:

·         build on ideas,

·         encounter new ways of thinking and areas of potential interest, and

·         resolve problems more successfully,
which, in turn, has lead to an even greater degree of professional development. (Appendix B)

I realise that by engaging in open and honest discourse with professional associates, about all aspects of my practice, I cannot eliminate conflict but I will gain greater skill, with which to identify potential issues, and tools, to build bridges or resolve problems before they escalate. (Appendix C)

2. Ethics
Developing a greater ethical awareness, alongside a deeper acknowledgement of my
personal morals, has highlighted the ‘power’ I have as both teacher and researcher, and that my primary objective must always be ‘to do no harm.’ (Appendix D)

By understanding, and accepting, that concepts such as truth, good, right, and wrong are subjective, and therefore open to interpretation, I am better informed to understand and, thereby, approach different ethical stances. (Appendix E - part one, Appendix E - part two)

3. Inquiry
I have been able to refine, condense and clarify my inquiry topic through a combination of:

·         blogging and commenting, (Appendix F)

·         reading and sharing, and (Appendix G)

·         piloting and reflecting. (Appendix H)

These skills will not only continue to support my learning and development in the next module - my research project - but in my professional practice too.

I have gained confidence in reading academic text, something that I had previously felt was beyond my grasp, by understanding how to approach and appraise the literature, and to pinpoint what is relevant to my specific needs at that point in time. (Appendix I)

By considering the limitations of my inquiry I am a lot more conscious of the constraints I encounter in my practice, and also my own limitations. I have started to realise that I cannot, and should not try to, control everything, and that certain responsibilities rest on other shoulders than my own.
I can also now acknowledge, and have taken steps to address, the fact that in trying to organise every aspect of my students learning I have been taking away their opportunity to develop autonomy and ownership. (Appendix J)

In conclusion, the process of engaging with this module has not only helped me to develop my inquiry but, perhaps more importantly, to see my professional practice as inquiry; to understand that problems encountered, questions raised, and weakness discovered should be treated with the same rigor as any formal research project. In future I will certainly reflect on not only the phenomenon itself but different approaches to it, the ethical considerations and implications of these strategies, and the inherent limitations in solving any practical problem.

Buckroyd, J. (2000). The student dancer: Emotional aspects of the teaching and learning of dance. Dance Books Ltd.

Council for Dance Education and Training. (2008/9). Code of Professional Conduct and Practice for Teachers of Dance, accessed 9th May 2013

Denscombe, M. (2010). The good research guide: for small-scale social research projects. Open University Press.

Fallows, S. J., & Ahmet, K. (1999). Inspiring students: Case studies in motivating the learner. Routledge.

Fraleigh, S. H., & Hanstein, P. (Eds.). (1999). Researching dance: evolving modes of inquiry. Pittsburgh, Pa, University of Pittsburgh Press.

Greene, S., & Hogan, D. (2005). Researching children's experience methods and approaches. London, Sage.

Hart, C. (1999). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. SAGE Publications Limited.

Nordin-Bates, S. M., Quested, E., Walker, I. J., & Redding, E. (2012). Climate Change in the Dance Studio. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 1(1), 3-16, accessed 31st March 2013, <>.  

Riley, J. (1990). Getting the Most from Your Data: A Handbook of Practical Ideas on how to Anlayse Qualitative Data. Technical and Educational Services.

Sass, E. J. (1989). Motivation in the college classroom: What students tell us. Teaching of Psychology, 16(2), 86-88, accessed 19th March 2013,  <>.

Stinson, S. W. (1997) A question of fun: Adolescent engagement in dance education. Dance Research Journal, 29 (2), 49-69, accessed 9th May 2013,

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Lecture, but not lectured

I went to the third meeting of the Imperial Tap and Modern Group for this year (sadly I missed the last two due to work commitments). This workshop was 'Approaches to choreography' with Melody Squires (

Melody did a course last year on teaching turns so I was looking forward to having her again this time. She's really down-to-earth, very creative and has a passion that oozes out of every pore!

She started the 2-hours with a sit down discussion and brought in books, that she finds invaluable, to share with us all - a kindred spirit to us BAPPers! (I have put two of the books in the references).
She then started to read to us (from one of the books) about Laban' Analysis of Movement, which she likened to the choreographic 'ingredients of a cake' (she likes cake!!).
Basically it's like the pick 'n' mix of creating a dance piece:
(Image from Dance Composition, p.19)

Melody then went on to demonstrate, with a fellow teacher, how things like mirroring, canon, question & answer, could be used to create interest in even the most seemingly basic of movements.

She then went on to read to us about the process of creating:

Beginning of Composition
Mode of presentation
Evaluation of improvisation
Selection and refinement
Then we learnt a piece that she'd choreographed that was inspired by the Emile Sande track 'Clown' and that drew on her knowledge and experiences of the circus (audible and visual stimuli). The following link is to a performance of the routine by a group of dancers @Pineapple:
We talked about ways to change and develop the group aspect of the choreography and how all the movements had a purpose - the tears of the sad clown (00.01), the clown car (00.10) and the custard pie in the face (00.18)...
We then moved on to a second routine, based on an idea that she had whilst working on a piece @Stagecoach, that involved the use of a newspaper as a prop (relationship to object). We then split into two teams to develop the solo choreography into a group piece. Our group played around with pattern, direction, timing and interaction but using the original choreography, whilst the other team had experimented with the theme of 'newspaper' and developed a piece of entirely new ideas and dance movements. This I found really interesting as it really highlighted how different people can interpret things in a variety of ways.
For the last part of the morning we sat down again and looked at how to evaluate a piece of choreography, as a whole and in parts (idea, relationships, motifs, etc.).
A really great morning that felt as if it had opened up new approaches to things like festival dances, exam dances and show numbers. However, and here is the main reason for writing this blog, I got the opportunity to use my 'new knowledge' much earlier than I could have anticipated...
I had an exam coaching class this afternoon in which I really wanted to help my students 'get a handle on' contrasting/ changing styles. Watching them perform the first of two amalgamations I suddenly remembered what Melody had read out about space - both size of performance area and extension in space. I began to talk to my students about how they could be aware of the studio space but that they should also develop an awareness of how much space they took up as a person, i.e. arms, levels, posture, etc. I went on to discuss how, in one of their dances, we (the audience) should be able to see and feel the space between and around them and, by contrast, the other dance should feel more condensed, tighter, like they were in a vacuum.
I then asked them to perform both dances with this in mind. A definite difference! :)
It just goes to show that there really is no end to the application of knowledge, whatever it may come originally labelled as!

Contemporaryjazz's channel: [Accessed 5th May 2013]
Maisel, E. (1995). Fearless creating: a step-by-step guide to starting and completing your work of art. Putnam.
Smith-Autard, J. M. (2010). Dance composition: A practical guide to creative success in dance making. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.