Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Structuring Street Dance Education

Can an organized, structured learning environment be created for street dance education? Imagine a series of schools established for poppers, lockers, and bboys/bgirls across the world. OG masters would provide regular instruction while students would have regular training. Students would also have focused time to experiment and push their craft in new directions. This learning environment could be privately funded through tuition or publicly financed by grants. 

What would be the pros and cons of having an educational institution for street dancers on the level of Julliard or performing groups such as the New York City Ballet? There would be more financial benefits for established dancers to teach. Also, it would be likely that more professional level groups would come out of the student body and enter the performance world. Arguments have been made that the "rawness" of street dance styles could be lost if they were taught in a formal academic setting. Also, there have been debates about the "homogenization" of the culture if an established  group of teachers dominated the learning environment. 

But can there be a beneficial compromise? There is a possibility that we could have a learning environment that had the best of both worlds. What if students had individualized learning tracks while being matched with a mentor for a period of time? Or what if the curriculum was evolving for a student and reflected what he or she was focused on at a particular time? Often, we may shy away from structuring a dance education because it reminds us of the worst experiences we've had in our general academic education (ie, middle school, high school, etc.) 

However, dance education is one field where a lot of experimentation can be done in terms of finding the best way to teach students, using different learning models. There's a lot of flexibility in creating a dance education program since it involves mind-body aesthestics. Shouldn't dancers also nurture their minds as well as their bodies as they grow? Creating a greater awareness for students of other art forms, aesthetic mentalities, and even a sense of history could play a role in their lives as dancers. 

We're now in a period when there's more people signing up for dance classes and trying new styles that they've never seen before. In the end, it will be crucial to see who teaches these new minds and bodies.

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