Sunday, 10 November 2013

Reflections on 'developing artistry' lecture

Today I attended a lecture given at the London Tap and Modern Group (of which I am a member). It was lead by Cathy Stevens (I.S.T.D. examiner and teacher) and was intended as to support and give ideas for how to develop the artistic development of students in conjunction with the syllabus work.

The lecture took the form of an observed class involving six students and was developed by Cathy Stevens from the ideas of Eric Fanklin (see Franklin, 2013).

The lecture itself was interesting and, for me, quite challenging in terms of realising how I would be able to put the exercises and concepts to use in my own classes. The reflective train journey home suggested that there were indeed aspects and exercises that could be very helpful in practice, particularly in developing emotional responses to movement and developing greater spatial awareness.

However, this is not what really struck me about what I observed.
It seems that my focus at the moment is so firmly fixed on my inquiry that I am looking at everything through the lens of motivation!

The really stand-out aspects of Cathy's class for me, was the way she approached, talked, encouraged and challenged the students (two of whom she knew but the rest who had never met her before), all of whom sat firmly in the adolescent age-range that I am currently researching.

Here are some of my observations, in bullet point form:
  • Before she brought the students in Cathy asked us, as audience, to smile throughout the class to encourage the students and support their efforts,
  • She talked about feeling comfortable in your own body,
  • She told us, and the girls, that she would not be asking anyone to do anything solo so as to maintain the feeling of being safe,
  • Before, during and after exercises there was an explanation of why they were being asked to do those things,
  • Music was chosen to provide words to attribute dance meaning to, for example, the track Slow me down (Rossum, 2007) was used for a sequence expressing that feeling of not being able to keep up with life,
  • Imagery was given that was relevant to the students world, for example, in the sequence mentioned above it was suggested 'you know that feeling when you've got too much homework and exams coming up and everything just feels too much,'
  • Individual attention was given in both support and praise, with appreciation given for effort and stepping outside comfort zones, and
  • Things that might be awkward or something challenging were noted and accepted, i.e. this one you're probably going to hate...
All of the above have given me a real sense of 'being relevant' with my inquiry topic and analysis - both in terms of the literature I have found and incorporated and in the types of categories that I have seen emerging from the data.

It has also given me a great opportunity to see holistic practice relative to the dance class; the teacher considering the needs of the student alongside the development of skills (in this case: artistry).

It's odd to think that, as little as a year ago, I might not have seen any of that aspect of the class! Evidence, indeed, if any were needed, of the importance of continuing inquiry in professional practice



Franklin, E. N. (1996). Dance Imagery: for technique and performance. Human Kinetics: USA
Rossum, E. 2007. Music video for Slow Me Down. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: 10 Nov 2013].

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