Click on link boys DANCE COMPLETED:
Establishing an effective dance programme for boys required special considerations. In each case the focus was motivation, progress, injury prevention, enjoyment and social interaction. Boys develop later than girls and the teaching strategies were planned to appeal to this.
I have taught dance to boys in 3 differing situations:
- Mixed gender community class
- Boys community/academic classes
- Boys body conditioning
1. Mixed gender community dance class
The first consideration was whether to separate boys and girls to maximise learning. In the mixed gender class there were less boys than girls, reflecting the continued view in society of dance being a girls activity. Young boys (5-8 years) were unconcerned by the presence of girls, but were increasingly self-conscious over 9 years as they became physically stronger and increased in stamina.
Separating based on gender was not viable in some community classes as there were too few boys. Within mixed ability classes I met boys learning needs by:
- Providing succinct instructions one at a time.
- Changing the focus of the task to retain attention.
- Refocussing and allowing additional time for task completion
- Placing boys at the front of class
- Providing continual praise and motivation
- Inclusion of problem-solving and group tasks
- Use of themes which appeal to all learners
- Use of props, visual and auditory stimuli to support kinaesthetic learning
- Channelling hyperactivity to develop technical and artistic skills
During group tasks, boys experimented more and set immediately to task with little planning. Boys bring strength and power to movements, are more competitive and fearless to attempt complex leaps or jumps. Within my mixed gender classes boys appear to enjoy costuming, positive feedback and exploration of creative dance as much as the girls, provided I continuously stretch their abilities. After age 11, only boys who consider dance as a career path continue and others pursue alternative sports.
2. Boys community and academic dance classes
Within in the academic context it is regular practice to separate learners aged 11+ into classes based on gender. I have observed the basis for this when initially teaching both community and academic classes. Boys were more athletic, thrived on competition and had more strength than girls. They also lost focus more quickly, shouted more and were more playful. When teaching boys I needed to use teaching styles that utilised their strengths to develop key skills.
In my boys academic and community dance classes, I initially enthused them using a combination of athletics and street Parkour. I used a variety of short clips and visual stimuli to engage and then developed movements which matched this theme. My theme appealed to their desire for a ‘summer six-pac’ and to leap and jump and my lessons benefited from movement intent and use of the core. The theme provided opportunity to link with the boy’s movement ideas and to develop these into sequences using visual aids, demonstrations and props. Boys interest was held by using stimuli to memorise facts. I was particular to provide correct alignment and technique and reasons for their importance. I observed that boys were initially surprised by their enjoyment of dance.
In boys community classes, I collaborated with the swimming, skating and athletics clubs to develop balance, alignment, flexibility, strength and coordination. In addition to copying movements I developed a sequence of dynamic movements based on the theme of an assault course. This links to the training in my body conditioning classes and allowed boys cross train. Feedback was based on filmed work, demonstrations and correction of peers to support verbal communication. Boys quickly identified correct technique in others and used this to progress their performance.
Working in partners and groups showed boys more aggressive temperament. I utilised this to provide heightened energy and more dynamic movement during contact improvisation sequences. I realise order in a boys class is required to foster development and concentration. To focus learners I use strategies such as completing push-ups, whilst I count. I encourage a strong finish every exercise. Discussions with lecturers at Trinity Laban and Bird College supported the use of Contact improvisation to inspire boys in dance. I provided class tasks to developed team working and camaraderie and required learners to understand the needs of others. Some boys needed longer to process ideas and complete tasks. They were clearly animated and enjoyed the positive feedback.
3. Boys body conditioning
The nature of male competition becomes immediately evident in the body conditioning classes as boys all strive to be best. They have the opportunity to release hyperactive energy. I find boys compete to jump highest, turn in multiple revolutions and hold positions longest. Although these are hallmarks of accomplishment for boys, I direct praise to ensure everyone is encouraged and focus aspects I believe are important. I draw attention to positioning, flow, phrasing, and musicality to maintain timing that permits technique. I find boys embody corrections most if working in a group.
By making lessons enjoyable, many boys have found a physical activity to escape from a deprived background and benefit from group camaraderie. I appeal to boys learning styles by using a range of themes from racing cars to chemistry, encouraging shouting at some sections, self-exploration and use problem-solving skills. I find boys perform best with praise, play and direct correction. I avoid making content so challenging it impedes learning and promote the physical benefits of dance. Participants should feel good about themselves after participating in class.
I aim to instill in my boys classes the vocational and personal qualities that make a great male dancer.
My marketing poster is a male dancer surrounded by other athletes to emphasize the strength and stamina needed. I provide examples of good practice through video clips, posters and guest dance artists. I have taken all my boys classes to see Dance performances including Matthew Borne, Lord of the Flies. I facilitated critiques of the dance performances to add to their understanding.
Our boys class motto is “Serious Dance, Serious Fun.”