In their journals, the DC students discussed their personal growth during the classes, citing the importance of developing relationships with university students and working collaboratively with students from other schools. One student described how DC has “taken her dancing to the next level”, others expressed pleasure at being able to come to the university and to become part of campus life. With feelings of pride and self-satisfaction, the students shared their new skills, dances and experiences with their teachers and peers.
Many of the students expressed a common theme that includes an awareness of the possibilities for themselves in the dance world,
and the understanding of what a career in dance might look like, not only as a performer or choreographer but also as a videographer, scholar and critic. This is certainly a direct result of the personal and professional connections made during the DC classes and the DC curricula.
The DC Director and Coordinators are encouraged that students have begun to seriously consider careers and college life and have begun to define themselves as working toward a future as a university student. By working collaboratively with current university students, DC students are beginning to see a deeper relationship between the university and the community as a new prospect for themselves.
DC University students
In their journals, university students addressed the importance of classroom management skills, allocating adequate time for planning, communication with peers and making personal connections with the DC students, including knowing and using the DC students’ names every class.
In addition, the university students expressed that the DC program promoted their personal growth as leaders and teachers.
Several students spoke of the importance of (a) taking personal responsibility for the curriculum and how it was presented, (b) resolving challenges as they occurred, (c) comparing the needs of different students through their instruction and their actions, (d) developing an understanding of students’ needs and opening themselves up to forming “real” relationships, (e) knowledge of the discipline of dance. They felt that the DC program was a safe opportunity to analyze, discuss, evaluate and to change their own practice of dance instruction. In many cases participation in the DC program helped pre-service teachers begin to develop their own philosophy of dance education.
Excerpt of a Dancers Connect Reflection from a UNCG Dance Education Student:
The first time I went to Dancers Connect I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I didn’t know if there were going to be a lot of kids, what their skill level was, if there were going to be many boys or not. It was interesting to see other college students helping out with the kids.
It is nice and refreshing to see my friends outside of our regular class participating in teaching and helping the students grow.
The activity for the day was to create shape dances. The students worked in partners to create shapes inspired by images and words. We started out doing shapes with Dr. Parrish as a class which transitioned into the students creating a dance on their own. I was reminded by the value of movement terms to guide improvisation. Dr. Parrish also gave students photos of dancers to help them create shapes for their shape dance. She used the college students as examples of what the dance might look like.
By having dance students as mentor and demonstrate is a great way for students to gain an understanding of the concept of what the end result should be.
I was very impressed by the creativity of the young dancers. The students really made up some amazing shapes and ideas for their dances. Even the younger students were choreographing great dances. It was refreshing to see students who are really invested in dance working. In the class, I was able to help out with some of the groups. At first, I was hesitant to jump in and give input to the students, mostly because the other college students have been there and were already used to how the program works. Dr. Parrish encouraged UNCG student helpers to work with and cover the room to help out the children as needed. Once I worked with one pair, I was more comfortable and was more interactive with the students.
Overall the day was really good and I am excited participate in the Dancers Connect program even more.