You are on page 1of 11

Santone 1

Choreographing the High School Musical:

Teaching Methods for Teaching Choreography

to a High School Theatre Company

Rebecca L. Santone

Dr. Donna A. Dragon, Instructor

Advanced Individual Project

26 February 2018
Santone 2

The line “it’s a crowd favorite; everyone loves a good jazz square” from the 2006

film High School Musical is one of the first lines that often comes to mind when someone

discusses dancing in a high school theatrical production. While jazz squares may be

something I am working with for this project, I am more concerned with how to teach a

jazz square, as well as other musical theatre choreography. For this project, I am

choreographing a production of The Addams Family for a high school theatre company.

There are approximately 34 students in the production, with an almost even male to

female ratio. These students are also at varied levels of dance experience and training. In

order to develop effective teaching strategies for my work, I am researching strategies

and other factors that will go into my lesson planning when working with the company.

My primary research questions for this project include, “What are different teaching

methods toward choreographing for high school theatre students at mixed levels and

various genders?”, “How can I motivate students who are disengaged to dance”, and “Of

the methods found and applied, which were the most effective and why? Which were the

least effective and why?”.

I began my research by searching for articles and other sources on Bridgewater

State University’s Maxwell Library databases. I searched using words such as “dance”,

“theatre”, “dance education”, and “teaching strategies”. I also searched online stores for

books relating to my work.

Each source I have selected provides me with strategies I can use for teaching this

high school theatre company. The articles “Eliciting Engagement in the High School

Classroom”, “Teaching Children Dance”, and “Adolescent Males in Dance”, provide

straightforward teaching strategies and likely results. For example, “Eliciting


Santone 3

Engagement in the High School Classroom” discusses how students are more likely to be

engaged through lively teaching, a common practice in theatre and dance (Cooper 379).

The authors of “Teaching Children Dance” provide strategies for basic dance classroom

management, such as setting rules for students (Cone and Cone 59). “Adolescent Males

in Dance” focuses on engaging male students to dance and gives insight into the

adolescent male dancer’s mind, such as stating that male dancers may be uncomfortable

in dance clothing at first (Li 19). “Student-Centered Strategies for Teaching Modern

Dance in Secondary Physical Education” and “Facilitating Discovery: Student-Centered

Teaching Strategies in the Technique Class” provide similar material, but with a focus on

student-centered teaching. For example, “Student-Centered Strategies for Teaching

Modern Dance in Secondary Physical Education” recommends giving similar movements

to students to different skill levels that fit each skill level (Bajek et. al 54). “Facilitating

Discovery: Student-Centered Teaching Strategies in the Technique Class” recommends

using improvisation to help students express themselves and grasp movement (Hankin

37-44). Lastly, the article “Developing Observation Strategies to Enhance Teaching

Effectiveness in the Dance Class” provides strategies for observing and assessment in a

dance class, such as observing from different places in the rehearsal space (Clark 34-35).

All of these sources provide insight into teaching dance and provide strategies that I can

use during my active research.

Many of the strategies from these sources coincide with what I have learned in

previous courses as well as have applied in both my dance teaching and learning. I have

learned many new strategies as well as ways to improve ones I already knew of and am
Santone 4

planning to apply them to teaching the high school theatre company choreography for

their show.

This annotated bibliography helps readers to understand that the strategies I am

using when teaching this high school theatre company come from somewhere and there is

evidence that shows their effectiveness. I am testing these strategies out for myself during

these rehearsals, and seeing which strategies worked, which didn’t, and why. This work

is important to the field of dance because many dance educators may obtain jobs similar

to mine and will need a toolbox of strategies to effectively work with populations like

this. This population and setting are common, but are not traditional dance technique

class settings, so a specific set of strategies may be useful for dance educators doing this

kind of work.
Santone 5

Rebecca L. Santone Bridgewater State University


February 26, 2018 Advanced Individual Project

Bajek, Mary, et al. "Student-Centered Strategies for Teaching Modern Dance in


Secondary Physical Education." JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education,
Recreation & Dance, vol. 87, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 52-54.

While modern dance has the potential to prompt physical activity in a way that
can reach across curricular areas, one must also consider students’ motivation and
comfort in participating in dance activities (Bajek et. al 52).

This article discusses teaching modern dance in a physical education setting to a high
school population. The article provides various student-centered teaching strategies for
teaching dance to this population of varied skilled and interest levels. For example, the
authors discuss how society’s gender roles may cause male students to be more reluctant
to participate (Bajek et. al 53). The authors suggest allowing students to make their own
small decisions in the class to give them a sense of belonging and control (Bajek et. al
53). The article also discusses providing effective demonstrations for students. The article
suggests choosing highly skilled students to demonstrate for the other students (Bajek et.
al 54). To accommodate for a variety of skill levels in a population, the authors also
suggest allowing lower level students time to repeat new choreography and providing
different options for a similar movement (Bajek et. al 54).

This article is peer reviewed and relates directly to my population of high school students
at a variety of levels in dance training and experience. It presents common obstacles for
working with this population as well as strategies for overcoming these obstacles.

This source is a great resource for specific strategies for teaching choreography to my
high school theatre company. Although I am teaching a different style of dance, many of
the movement activities in modern dance relate to other styles of dance. Also, the
population discussed in the article is similar to my population. This source contributes
specific strategies for teaching dance to this population, which I can apply to my active
research. I am using this article as a source for building my toolbox of strategies to use
when teaching my high school theatre company.
Santone 6

Rebecca L. Santone Bridgewater State University


February 26, 2018 Advanced Individual Project

Clark, Dawn. "Developing Observation Strategies to Enhance Teaching Effectiveness in


the Dance Class." JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &
Dance, vol. 74, no. 9, Nov/Dec2003, pp. 33-47

Many dance educators regularly demonstrate the movement content for their
classes. However, continuing to demonstrate for their students as they dance or
practice inhibits effective observation (Clark 33).

This article discusses the importance of observing students as a way to assess their
learning in a dance class. It also provides detailed strategies for how to effectively
observe students. For example, Clark writes that a teacher should deliberately change
his/her/their location in the room to get a better view of all of the students while they
dance (Clark 34-35).

This article is peer reviewed and comes from a scholarly source. It provides information
about the importance of observation in a dance class, as well as strategies for effective
observation and assessment.

I am using this source as a resource for my toolbox of strategies to use when teaching my
population. I will be applying some of the strategies for observation when teaching
choreography to my high school theatre company. This source stands out in my research
because it focuses on observing students during a class rather than the basics of teaching
dance. However, it relates to other sources because it involves a student-centered
approach to teaching dance.
Santone 7

Rebecca L. Santone Bridgewater State University


February 26, 2018 Advanced Individual Project

Cooper, Kristy S. “Eliciting Engagement in the High School Classroom.” American


Educational Research Journal, vol. 51, no. 2, 2014, pp. 363–402.

Compared to English, which has similar results to other academic subjects,


students were more engaged in electives- particularly in the arts (e.g., theater,
ceramics, band), athletics (e.g., soccer, dance, PE)... (Cooper 379).

This publication is a study of student engagement in high school classrooms. The study
focuses on many different aspects of engagement, such as what teaching methods elicit
more engagement from students and what subjects are more likely to engage students.
The study shows that students are more likely to be engaged in classes such as the work I
am doing with my high school theatre company: theatre and dance (Cooper 379). The
study also found that students were more likely to be engaged in a class if they felt a
sense of belonging with their peers, they could relate their work to their own lives, and
there is academic rigor and/or lively teaching (Cooper 379).

This study is peer reviewed and comes from a scholarly source. It provides detailed
information about high school students’ engagement in school as well as strategies that
are most likely to elicit engagement from this population. For example, the article states
that students are more likely to be engaged by lively teaching (Cooper 379). While
teaching, I can keep my energy up and keep my students moving during rehearsal in
order to keep them engaged.

This study provides me with strategies to add to my teaching when working with the high
school theatre company. The study is not focused on dance or theatre classes, but some of
the teaching strategies are still applicable. Also, the study discusses how high school
students are more likely to be engaged in experiences like my work, so it is important for
me to use this information as a contextual factor when planning for my students’
engagement. Like other sources in this research, it provides teaching strategies that I can
use during my active research. It differs from other sources because it is a case study with
statistics rather than an article written by a dance professional or anecdotal information.
Santone 8

Rebecca L. Santone Bridgewater State University


February 26, 2018 Advanced Individual Project

Cone, Theresa Purcell, and Stephen Leonard Cone. Teaching Children Dance. Human
Kinetics, 2012.

“The goal is to provide a meaningful learning experience that integrates the needs of
children with the content of the dance program” (Cone and Cone 55).

Chapter 5 of Cone and Cone’s book Teaching Children Dance is about basic teaching
strategies for teaching children dance. Strategies are given for a wide variety of needs.
For example, the chapter suggests giving students praise and constructive feedback
during a dance class in order to keep students motivated (Cone and Cone 58). The chapter
also discusses letting students have a say in what happens in the dance class; Cone and
Cone suggest allowing students to make small choices and inviting them, not forcing
them, to participate (Cone and Cone 58). The chapter also suggests setting rules an
boundaries to “facilitate efficient class management and allow maximum time for active
participation” (Cone and Cone 59). Cone and Cone also write that reinforcing personal
space boundaries are important in a dance classroom (Cone and Cone 60). Lastly, Cone
and Cone provide specific strategies for demonstrating movement, including facing
students, having students follow from behind, and demonstrating with students
surrounding the teacher (Cone and Cone 61).

This chapter comes from a scholarly source and gives explicit strategies with likely
results for teaching children dance. For example, Cone and Cone recommend varying
demonstration methods, such as having students stand behind the teacher and follow
along and having the teacher directly face the students (Cone and Cone 61).

Like other sources, this chapter provides my study with specific strategies for teaching
dance. While the population is younger than the one I am working with, these strategies
are still useful, especially considering some of my students are beginner dancers. I can
use this chapter to develop strategies for teaching choreography to my high school theatre
company.
Santone 9

Rebecca L. Santone Bridgewater State University


February 26, 2018 Advanced Individual Project

Hankin, Toby. "Facilitating Discovery: Student-Centered Teaching Strategies in the


Technique Class." JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &
Dance, vol. 68, no. 1, Jan. 1997, p. 36.

“While [the teacher] may be a catalyst in someone else’s learning process, each
person’s path to understanding is his or her own” (Hankin 36).

This article is about student-centered teaching and how it can help students better
understand the material taught in a dance technique class. Hankin writes that his job is to
facilitate students in making their own discoveries when learning in a dance technique
class (Hankin 36). Some of the strategies Hankin recommends are letting students
manipulate movement to allow for self-expression, incorporating open-ended
improvisation, and shifting the daily routine of a class (Hankin 37-44).

This article is peer reviewed and comes from a scholarly source. It provides insightful
and detailed strategies for creating a student-centered dance technique class. Although it
was written over 20 years ago, a lot of dance technique is still the same. Hankin’s
practices, such as allowing room for self-expression, can benefit students of all time
periods and generations, as this artistic element of dance has not gone away.

This article is applicable to my project because it aids in me teaching in a student-


centered way and helping students use critical thinking and self discovery in order to
learn dance. I plan to use Hankin’s strategies to help my students learn, especially the
more advanced in dance students. This source is similar to other sources because it too
provides specific strategies to use during my active research.
Santone 10

Rebecca L. Santone Bridgewater State University


February 26, 2018 Advanced Individual Project

Li, Zihao. “Adolescent Males in Dance”. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &
Dance. 011. p. 17-23.

[Boys that take dance classes]’s levels of acceptance of dance seem to fall into
three stages: denial (partial acceptance), acceptance (full and self), and excellence
(beyond acceptance) (Li 18).

This article discusses adolescent males in dance classes. The article discusses the
different levels and developmental stages that adolescent males in dance may go through.
Li also writes about various obstacles that boys and dance educators are faced with, such
as the fact that adolescent males are less likely to be comfortable wearing traditional
dance clothes than females are at first (Li 19). Li also provides strategies for addressing
some of these obstacles. For example, Li suggests incorporating more traditionally
masculine aspects into a dance class, such as athleticism and competition (Li 18). While
these movements do not have to be seen as masculine in every setting, it may be effective
to tap into what students have already determined are their gender roles in order to
engage them.

This article is peer reviewed and comes from a scholarly source. It provides in depth
reflections on adolescent males in dance, and the subpopulations within.

This article is important for my project because a large number of the population I am
working with is adolescent males. The males in my high school theatre are also at
different skill levels. Some of the males have been doing theatre for awhile and have
some dance experience, while other boys have never danced before. This article will be
useful in creating strategies to keep this part of my population motivated and progressing.
For example, Li writes that male dancers may be uncomfortable in traditional dance
clothes (Li 19). For rehearsals, I will allow students to wear any kind of school
appropriate clothing that they can move in instead of expecting traditional dancewear.
Santone 11

Works Cited

Bajek, Mary, et al. "Student-Centered Strategies for Teaching Modern Dance in

Secondary Physical Education." JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education,

Recreation & Dance, vol. 87, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 52-54.

Clark, Dawn. "Developing Observation Strategies to Enhance Teaching Effectiveness in

the Dance Class." JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &

Dance, vol. 74, no. 9, Nov/Dec2003, pp. 33-47

Cooper, Kristy S. “Eliciting Engagement in the High School Classroom.” American

Educational Research Journal, vol. 51, no. 2, 2014, pp. 363–402.

Cone, Theresa Purcell, and Stephen Leonard Cone. Teaching Children Dance. Human

Kinetics, 2012.

Hankin, Toby. "Facilitating Discovery: Student-Centered Teaching Strategies in the

Technique Class." JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &

Dance, vol. 68, no. 1, Jan. 1997, p. 36.

Li, Zihao. “Adolescent Males in Dance”. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation &

Dance. 011. p. 17-23.