18th Annual National Dance Education Organization Conference

SPEAKING WITH OUR FEET: Advocating, Analyzing, and Advancing Dance Education October 6-10, 2016 – Hyatt Regency, Crystal City – Washington, D.C. metro area

A Dancer’s Approach to Dalcroze: Connections for Advocacy

Friday, October 7th, 2016 – 12:45 pm

In sharing the elements of time and energy, music and dance overlap in rhythm, tempo, phrasing, form, dynamics. Although many cultures have long embraced music and dance as one inseparable whole, western conservatories and concert halls treat them as separate. This session demonstrates the value of embracing commonality with music, and the potential it offers for dance advocacy and advancement.

Late in the 19th Century, Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss musician, developed a system of training that embodied music through sound and movement. Tone, pitch, melody, harmony, and rhythm translated to elements of movement in space, time, and energy. Conversely, movement was transformed into physically inspired music that, in turn, inspired movement. Dalcroze echoed the educational philosophies of John Dewey and Heinrich Pestalozzi. “Eurhythmics,” the English name of the Dalcroze system, fostered the growth of expressive movement in educational institutions and helped to advance dance as an aesthetic, communicative art.

Although it was originally designed to use movement as a tool to teach music, Eurhythmics influenced modern dance pioneers such as Rudolf Laban and Mary Wigman; noted Americans include Doris Humphrey and Mark Morris. Practitioners of Eurhythmics today are nearly all musicians who use movement in their teaching.

Although Monica Dale is an accomplished pianist with a Dalcroze License and MM degree, she is also a professionally-trained dancer and dance educator. Instead of working only from the musician’s perspective as Dalcroze did, Monica is able to approach Eurhythmics techniques as a dancer, for dancers. Her approach, MusiKinesis®, focuses on dancers’ skills in physical musicianship, giving dancers fresh teaching techniques, introducing new teaching opportunities, and fostering creative engagement with other art forms.

While this workshop will provide dance teachers effective methods for developing musicality in their dance students, it will further propose new means of dance advocacy. The merger of art forms facilitates connections with established music programs in schools and communities, thus providing ground for dance initiatives to take root. Through an active, participatory process, participants will experience Dalcroze-based exercises designed to embody concepts such as rhythm, meter, and phrasing. Sample teaching sequences will provide concrete ideas participants can employ with children and adults, dancers and musicians. The workshop will address topics such as pedestrian movement and dance vocabulary as music; quick-response games for engaging groups; sound/music improvisation for personal authenticity and “ownership,” creating unique sound sources for dance; rhythmic dance stories for children; and suggested recordings useful for incorporating activities.