Harnessing the Wind: The Art of Teaching Modern Dance gives you the theoretical knowledge, the practical tips, and the inspiration to prepare the next generation of dancers to meet the demands of contemporary dance.
This book combines information about constructing and presenting a dance class with personal reflections about the art of teaching modern dance and integrating somatic theories, scientific research, and contemporary aesthetic practices. It provides new teachers with a solid theoretical base and incites experienced teachers to reexamine and revitalize their teaching.
The book asks dance instructors to make conscious choices about what, why, and how they teach. Advocating an individualistic approach, it helps teachers understand how their personal dance interests and interpretations influence their teaching styles. Part I, “The Vision,” provides a philosophical perspective. It defines the role of technique and explores the delicate job of nurturing the artist during the quest for technical control. Part II, “Class Preparation,” is where the planning process takes shape. This section shows how to
• set strategies and realistic goals to lay the groundwork for a carefully built progression of movement skills;
• use rituals to facilitate centering;
• safely incorporate conditioning principles into dance training, thus encouraging the development of powerful and resilient dancers;
• understand the interplay between gravity and rhythm, space and energy to shape phrasing; and
• sequence exercises effectively using helpful graphs and planning guides.
Part III, “Class Presentation,” covers essential issues such as pacing, making good corrections, building images to enhance movement learning, and collaborating successfully with musicians. Finally, part IV, “Professional Concerns,” embraces important issues that touch the teaching professional, such as how to objectively analyze and critique a very subjective subject—the body—and how to maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Learning Aids: Investigations and Reflections
Each chapter is followed by a series of investigations and a reflection designed to challenge and inspire students and teachers. The investigations are concise exercises that explore theories both in and out of the classroom. They cover a range of activities including writing, drawing, chart making, observing, and experiential processing. The reflections provide insight to a dancer’s world. Told through the eyes of a dance teacher, these narratives unveil the intangibles that are taught in dance, such as breathing, centering, playfulness, presence, and discipline.
The appendixes are full of practical tools, including a sample syllabus, sample grading policies, placement goals for four levels of technique, and assessment and evaluation forms.
Throughout the book, abstract and highly imagistic photographs by dance photographers Erika Dufour and William Frederking provide a powerful visual stimulus that captures mood, motion, and emotion.
This book provides dance students the information and theory necessary to begin the task of teaching. For seasoned teachers, it will inspire new questions and introduce new possibilities. Either way, readers will unleash a world of potential with Harnessing the Wind.
Part I: Philosophy Chapter 1. Dancing Roots: Technique
Technique • The Wisdom Of Ancestors • A Point of View • Reflection: Breath
Chapter 2. Flying Souls: Artistry
Doing and Undoing • Teaching the Real Truth • Odd Choices • Role of
Improvisation • Practice Solitude • Reflection: Play
Part II: Class Preparation Chapter 3. Sculpting Dreams: Goal
Vision • Designing a Syllabus • Progression of Movement Skills • Principles and Strategies • Reconciling Individual Dreams With Class Goals • Evaluation • Reflection: Presence
Chapter 4. Centering Minds: Rituals
Rituals of Ancestors • Floor or Standing? • Repetition • A Labyrinth Toward Center • Special Classes • Reflection: Discipline
Chapter 5. Gathering Power: Conditioning
Resilience • Conditioning in Dance Practice • Strength • Flexibility • Muscular Endurance • Cardiorespiratory Endurance • New Dance Curricula • Reflection: Surrender
Chapter 6. Shaping Phrases: Dancing
Building Phrases • Spatial Intent • Energy • Musicality and Rhythm • Demonstrating • Reflection: Transitions
Chapter 7. Weaving Light: Sequencing
Sequencing Exercises • Designing a Class Template • Continuums • Reflection: Centering
Part III: Class Presentation Chapter 8. Time Flowing: Pacing
Reading Tea Leaves • Flow • Art of Pacing • The Clock • Length of Class • Reflection: Stillness
Chapter 9. Body Listening: Corrections
Seeing and Sensing • Knowing Oneself • Reflexes • Alignment and Posture • Fixing or Guiding • Touching • Empowering Student Observation • Reflection: Connectivity
Chapter 10. Space Moving: Images
The Power of Images and Metaphors • Developing a Bag of Tricks • The Senses • Reflection: Balance
Chapter 11. Silence Sounding: Accompanists
Relationship Between Music and Dance • Movement and Music • Teachers and Accompanists • Students and Musicians • Reflection: Openness
Part IV: Professional Concerns Chapter 12. Energy Talking: Communication
Bodymind • Resistance and Fear • Authorities of Bodymind • Love and Challenge • Counseling • Reflection: Patience
Appendix A. The Dance Center of Columbia College Modern Dance Technique Syllabus
Appendix B. The Dance Center of Columbia College Level Placement Guide
Appendix C. Pre- and Post-Assessment in the Performing Arts
Appendix D. The Dance Center of Columbia College Course Evaluation—Student
Appendix E. The Dance Center of Columbia College Instructor Evaluation
Textbook for modern dance majors in pedagogy or methods courses and for graduate assistants in training to teach modern dance at the university or college level. Resource for professional modern dance teachers.
Jan Erkert is a dance artist, leader, and builder in contemporary dance. As artistic director of Jan Erkert & Dancers from 1979 to 2000, she presented her work throughout the United States as well as in Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, Uruguay, and Israel. Erkert has been honored with numerous choreographic awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Erkert also received a CalArts Alpert Award nomination, a Fulbright Award, and a Ruth Page Award for choreography and performance.
Erkert is currently a professor at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches modern dance technique, pedagogy, anatomy, kinesiology, improvisation, and composition. She recently received the prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award from the college. She conducts training workshops at major dance departments to help faculty, teaching assistants, and dance majors learn how to teach modern dance more effectively. Erkert is known throughout the United States and internationally as a master teacher, inspiring people with her intense, honest approach that interweaves scientific principles with the artistic drive for excellence.
In her free time, Erkert likes to spend time outdoors hiking, swimming, gardening, bicycling, and traveling. She also enjoys sewing, cooking, and practicing Ashtanga yoga. Erkert and her husband, Bernt Lewy, live in Chicago.