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Dancing Scholars: 4 -17

The School

A conservatory dance program with pedagogical based curriculum both kinesthetic and theoretical but most importantly, FUN offers technique classes through formal instruction as well as open dance classes in various techniques including Flamenco, Copoiera, Dunham technique, Salsa, Samba & Hip Hop for ages 4-17. For more information about The School and to learn about the mission and goal of this initiative visit our home page. Below, you will find descriptions on our technique classes offered with yearly enrollment:

Classical & Traditional Fusion

In this class students study both the classical dance form of ballet and the traditional dance form of West African dance. The year is split into two semesters where the students explore both techniques. Originating in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century later developing into concert dance from Russia and France, in the ballet component of our class, alignment (referring to keeping the head, shoulders, and hips vertically aligned) turnout (referring to completing movements with legs rotated outward promoting clean footwork, graceful port de bras, and correct positions, and lines students are exposed to this classical dance form as well  as ballet vocabulary. Students also learn the basics in posture, toe pointing, and working on muscles to increase turnout and alignment improving quality of turns over time. In the West African dance component the class is accompanied by live drumming does not just expose students to movement and steps in West African dance tradition but also social patterns and values around helping, praising, and celebrating others in the community and embracing community itself all through dance experience Dances explored include: Warrior dances, dances of love, rights of passage and coming of age,  dances of welcome, and dances of celebration.

African dance refers mainly to the dance of Sub-Saharan Africa, and more appropriately West African dance the focus of this course, refers mainly to dance in the bull horn of Africa. West African dance embodies many cultural differences in musical and movement styles which are viewed close with the Sub- Saharan African music traditions and Bantu cultivation of rhythm.African dances being largely participatory with roots in village tradition where the circle or sacred ground is inclusive of all participates (those forming the circle clapping and singing) is incorperated in during the instruction of the class. Traditional drum rhythms and their dances originally associated with specific occasions are also explored and the focus of the class is on community, concepts of call-and-response, improvisation, creativity, and isolations and articulation of the body. There are VI levels of this technique class and the goal of the class is expose students to both classical and traditional dance forms providing flexibility from ballet and strength and endurance from West African dance and facilitating students’ ability to identity similarities and differences in foundational dance forms from around the world.

Contemporary

This class explores contemporary dance from a lineal perspective highlighting the roots of contemporary dance making connections with classical ballet and west African dance, both foundational techniques in contemporary and what is also known as modern dance movement. Students explore classical modern dance techniques – The Martha Graham technique, the Lestor Horton Technique, and the Limon Technique as well as post modern dance, such as Merce Cunningham’s chance dance and structured improvisation as well as jazz dance over the course of the year.  There are VI levels of this technique class and its goal is to explore contemporary dance in its entirety and the social and cultural influences that have shaped these dance styles within this form of dance.

Tap

In this class, students study tap dancing, a form of dance characterized by using the sound of one’s tap shoes hitting the floor becoming a percussive instrument. As such, tap dancing is often considered to be a form of music. In this class students explore two major variations on tap dance. The variations are split between two semester. The first is Broadway tap dancing which focuses on the performative element of dance widely performed in musical theatre and the second form of tap dancing is rhythm tap (Jazz) which focuses more on musicality, making rhythms, and this form is more along the lines of jazz tradition (rooted in African dance) which includes call – and- response, improvisation, and polyrhythmic exploration.

Cultural Kinesis - Ethnodanceology for Dancing Scholars

As all of these dance classes incorporate different dance forms or variations of dance forms within the class itself, students study a variety of styles within each class deepening exploration of dance within a cultural context. Students are able to compare the dance classes they are learning, identifying similarities and differences between the aesthetics, style, musical accompaniment, and different uses of the body used in the different techniques. The Cultural Kinesis Ethnodanceology for Dancing Scholars course helps students have a greater understanding of how they experience dance, study dance, and perform dance. Students make connections between movement and the world around them by exploring different dance styles and techniques in their other classes fused with the Cultural Kinesis approach to investigating and embodying dance. Through this class which is recommended for all students to take along with their technique classes students also have the opportunity to engage in discussions on culture, “race”, identity and heritage. There are VI levels to this class including an adult level.

DanceExchange (Study Abroad)

Students explore movement styles and techniques domestically and abroad engaging in discussions on culture, “race”, identity, stereotypes & self esteem, making connections between movement & critical concepts. Dancing-scholars will first study material at home and then travel abroad juxtaposing the knowledge and information studied. Dancing-Scholars will learn and employ research methods to help them conduct research abroad for a final product. Final product is a written synthesis of analysis incorporating a kinesthetic component. Techniques/dance styles and abroad study origin should reflect one another.

Ethnodanceology Composition and Prep Course

 Offered to rising middle school students and high school student, students are immersed in an intensive crash course in preparation for auditioning for schools professional dance training programs or other programs which require dance audition and/or choreography. Schools requiring such programs include middle and high schools with dance programs and college/universities with dance minors or majors of which the student may be interested in applying. Professional dance training programs include programs such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance

Ethnodanceology Summer Intensive (ESI)

 Students explore different movement styles and techniques as well as engage in discussions on culture, “race”, identity, stereotypes & self esteem. Dancing-scholars make connections between movement & critical concepts. Offered at two and half hours daily for one week. ESI is offered and various locations in the metropolitan New York City area and in Philadelphia during the months of June, July, and August. Students may enroll in as many as they want. The focus in this program is movement and critical discourse with a culminating performance.

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