Sabine Brix, 29 March 2021, Arts Hub
A new regional dance program for Victorian primary school students aims to enhance creative expression as well as strengthen the correlation between dance and language skills.
Designed by Victoria’s peak dance body Ausdance, Blue Sky Dance will be rolled out to hundreds of regional Victorian primary school students with 15 schools participating each year during 2021-2023.
The program will be delivered via a hybrid model of integrated streaming and face-to-face learning with dance educators to engage with primary students across Victoria’s rural regions. It is being funded by the Victorian Department of Education.
Dr. Katrina Rank, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning, Ausdance VIC said the program’s benefits extend beyond the creative expression of dance with consideration given into how the program could help students in other areas of the curriculum.
‘Just as music supports student learning in mathematics, we know that Dance can support the building and consolidation of literacy and language skills,’ she said. ‘Ausdance VIC’s Blue Sky Dance will focus on these areas and guide students to create expressive dances using choreographic tools.’
She told ArtsHub: ‘It [the program] helps those teachers that are delivering dance to see that dance can be an extension of their other classes as well, not to replace the other classes, but to consolidate that other way of learning which is kind of spatial, kinaesthetic, musical and mathematical.
‘Just as music supports student learning in mathematics, we know that Dance can support the building and consolidation of literacy and language skills.’
Although not as widespread as research which links learning an instrument with mathematical skills, Rank said dance can help kids understand language through using word classes such as verbs, adjectives and prepositions to explain movement.
‘One of the things that came through with NAPLAN is that a lot of the students understand how to read. They can read the word but they don’t always understand what the word means.’ And what dance can do is help students understand what that word means because it’s a different way of leaning, they’re learning it through an embodied sense.’In addition to the combined benefits of creativity and literacy dance can offer students, the program is also designed to develop critical thinking.
‘We’re not going to be telling students what to do. We’ll give them instructions and they will work out those things on their own bodies, either in solos or in pairs,’ Rank said. ‘They will decide for themselves how to respond to a task, it’s like guided discovery,’ she said.
The program is also designed to benefit students’ teachers who will be given the confidence to continue supporting students in dance, after the program has finished.
‘Blue Sky Dance has been designed by Ausdance VIC to equip teachers with skills, knowledge, understanding, and terminology to enable them to more confidently lead dance as a subject in the Victorian Curriculum,’ Rank said. ‘They will also learn to use choreographic and dance teaching methods by actively engaging in sessions and facilitating the streamed component in their own classrooms.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sabine Brix is a writer, editor, podcaster and electronic musician with a specific interest in personal storytelling that captures the essence of why people create. She was the former Online Content Producer at Archer Magazine and editor of the LGBTI website Gay News Network.
She has produced sound art for BBC’s Radio4 and composed music for the web series Starting From Now, which screened on SBS. This year she released her debut EP on the French electronic music label Parfé Records.
Follow Sabine on Twitter @sabinebrix
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