A Path to Literacy: Action Research of Dancers Working with American Dance Legacy Initiative Etude to Use Literacy to learn and Master a Dance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Teresa Heiland, Professor of Dance Education (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: This case study reveals the development, application, experiences, and outcomes of a model ofdance literacy pedagogy in which notation-illiterate students use Stephen Krashen’s “naturalapproach” to literacy, thus framing a model for life-long learning and agency for accessing dancehistory and heritage. Because notation is not offered at my university, I aimed to encourage buyinby providing a literacy experience in an independent study course in which students were toldthe payoff would be the opportunity to perform David Parsons’ dance. Four students learned theParsons Etude (Parsons 1999) from: explorations of the Labanotation score, making dance phrasesusing essential elements of the score, writing their own Motif Notation scores, and doing LMA ofthe ADLI video. *is project-based approach to learning while using a problem-based curriculumwas intended to give students an experience of agency over their own ability to access danceheritage, history, movement analysis, and clarity of movement performance while workingtogether in a learning community that uses an inquiry approach to learning a dance and gainingliteracy naturally. By working with this second-language acquisition approach to using dancenotation, theoretically, we were using notation to serve our needs and we were acquiring literacynaturally in order make the dance make sense in the body-mind (Krashen 2011). By languageacquisition, Krashen means that we acquire languages when we use oral and written messages thatare useful for meaning making and understanding that help us to communicate and function betterin our world. Dancing is already one of our forms of communicating, and I was curious to learnhow notation might be experienced by our college aged dancers as they used notation as one ofthe tools to gain more clarity with dancing, seeing, talking, and writing. In this case study, I lookat how deeply four students used their inquiry process and experiments with literacy to understandand embody the style, steps, concepts, musicality, and life-attitudes that David Parsons’ ParsonsEtude asks them to find in themselves. I hypothesized that by acquiring a dance-based secondlanguage my students would also gain inquiry skills, understanding, focused embodiment, andexpressive performing skills. My pedagogy does not situate language acquisition as a separate toolto assist with meaning-making, but as a lived process of being. The act of doing is meaningmaking,so, by doing-with-dance and doing-with notation-and doing-with-talking we areoverlapping meaning-making in order to do what philosopher of logic and metaphysics Andy Clark (2010) calls “supersizing the mind.” We extend and expand our ways of knowing, hence webecome more literate. In this presentation, I share how my so-called illiterate students exploredtheir own literacy acquisition as they learned to read, write, and dance the Parsons Etude usingLabanotation and Motif Notation as central tools for embodiment.

Additional Information

Proceedings of the Twenty-eighth Biennial Conference of the International Council of Kinetography Laban
Language: English
Date: 2013
dance education, dance literacy, dance notation, American dance, Stephan Krashen , Labanotation

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