This year the Teaching Team at Momentum Dance Studios are focusing on one key pedagogy theory specific to educating young people in the creative arts.
It’s called SPARK!
The term “Spark” in relation to education for children and teens was crystalised by the American Psychologist Peter L. Benson and his work on positive facets of youth development. Peter Benson understood many young people thrived in life when their spark of the creative arts was facilitated and supported by those around them.
Personally, I love the word spark because it captures what we in the performing arts have felt intuitively since starting dance class, performing in our first concert or watching our choreography performed on stage. It certainly feels like a little spark that ignites within you and drives you to continually to improve, explore and evolve – even when your feet hurt and your body is tired!
Our challenge this year, is to look beyond the dancer standing in front of us in the studio and really observe what element of dance ignites each student’s spark. This will be different for each student. Some children thrive of the routine of a well-structured class with repetition, clear rules and planned progression.
Others will experience the spark by responding positively when given the opportunity to contribute and express themselves through dance creation. I observed evidence of this only last Saturday in our Contemporary Dance class which caters to students age 10 to 12 years. We introduced an enormous sheet of fabric to incorporate within a dance routine. The physical presence of shimmering satin that stretched from one end of the studio to the other was a pure delight for students to explore. Imagination ran wild with the potential impact of this prop on stage under lights! Student’s faces glowed as they ran across the studio with the fabric and smiles were abundant.
More commonly, a young person’s spark is ignited after they perform a meaningful, fun or exciting piece of choreography publicly. Provided the child is well prepared and the performance environment is a supportive and organised one, this is where the spark is so visible it tends to illuminate kids.
The adrenalin experienced when performing can aid young people to produce a higher level of energy and technical ability not yet achieved in the studio. The body’s endorphins are released and elation is experienced – a nice natural reward for their previous hard work in class. These positive elements coupled with praise and respect from observing family and friends enables children and teens to thrive in areas beyond the performing arts.
So, our little obsession with spark will continue year long. Momentum’s Teaching Team observations and adjustments in class may seem inconsequential but now you know that we are vigilant observers of all things that make our students thrive and we hope you might be too!
Director of Momentum Dance Studio since 2004 based in Sydney Hills District. Natasha holds a Bachelor of Education & Bachelor of Arts (Dance & Theatre). She is a member of Balcombe Heights Estate 355 Council Committee and volunteers with Learning In The Hills. As a mother of two, she is also passionate advocate for child safety issues in the dance community.
Watch Peter Benson's TED Talk here:
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