Overview and Objectives.
The Dance Program at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts combines rigorous dance training with a sound approach to dance education that not only focuses on “how” to dance, but also the role dance plays in our lives. Experienced and novice dancers are provided with the opportunity to study many dance forms including, but not limited to: ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and musical theatre. A sound relationship between kinesiology, dance history, technical training and the creative and aesthetic activities inherent in dance training are present in each course. Courses are offered with a keen awareness of developmentally appropriate material in relation to the physiological and social/emotional development of the students.
The objective of the Dance Program is to educate students with a strong foundation in dance and artistry that will allow students to move with confidence and creativity in their chosen fields and everyday lives. The Dance Department values:
- Dance as a source of artistry, education, and expression
- Consistent and sequential instruction that is paramount to successful technique
- The creative process inherent in dance that is present in other disciplines
- Connections between dance and other subjects help students develop the ability to navigate change in their lives and society
- Professionalism, work ethic, creative expression and problem-solving
Potential Course Offerings
Middle School – Dance, Exercise, and Movement
Students in Dance, Movement and Exercise embark upon an exciting study of moving as a community, moving as an individual, exploring basic principles of healthy exercise practices, and moving for creative self-expression. Dance, Movement, and Exercise is mostly designed for students who are new to dance at CPFA. The goal of Dance, Movement, and Exercise is to provide students with the knowledge, strength, and flexibility required to move forward with confidence in any dance class, and to experience the sheer joy of moving.
Middle School - Ballet, Technique and Traditions
The study of classical ballet has long been considered intrinsic to serious dance training and education. Ballet, Technique and Traditions builds a solid and lasting foundation in classical ballet by emphasizing correct body alignment and training that is appropriate to physical development. Ballet at CPFA largely follows the terminology and structure of the Russian Vaganova Syllabus, although similarities and differences to French and Italian schools are presented. Ballet focuses on safe and healthy practices in ballet technique such as finding proper turnout, evaluating natural alignment grasping foundational vocabulary in ballet, exploring many of the traditions in Classical Ballet, creativity, rehearsal and performance technique. Students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of ballet vocabulary in physical, verbal, and written form. During the school year Ballet students become aware of the importance of rhythmic integration, which is defined as the ability to integrate the rhythm of movement and music within the dancer’s body. Students are also presented with many opportunities for creative activities through units on motivation and storytelling through dance.
Middle School - Tap, Rhythm and Structures
Tap, Rhythm and Structures introduces and emphasizes the eight basic movements from which all tap steps are derived. Through teacher prepared combinations and creative activities, students learn about rhythm, proper use of the foot, weight change, and posture. Historical information about tap and some of its great performers are included in the course. Tap, Rhythm, and Structures provides students with the opportunity to acquire skills and strength in all three areas. Classes are taught with careful attention to developing the physical skills, strength and coordination necessary for successful tap dancing; understanding music terms and concepts to support dance (time signatures, counting, duple and triple meter, double time, half time); and experience in the structure of a tap class as well as patterns of movement common to tap. Formal and informal opportunities for creativity and performance abound in Tap study at XCPFA. During the school year, Tap students become aware of the importance of rhythmic integration, which is defined as the ability to integrate the rhythm of movement and music within the dancer’s body.
Middle School - Dance Technique and Artistry (DTA)
Dance Technique and Artistry explores two of the main components of dancing; it is the “how” and “why” of what we do when we are dancing. Dancing requires physical skills that are both similar to, and different from, other physical activities. The technique part of class prepares young bodies for safe and correct dance practices in any dance form. However, there is a certain “something” extra when we dance, a sort of magical component that also needs to be developed. The artistry part of class provides students with opportunities to explore their own artistry, as well as artistic study using traditional methods. Students learn to proceed with confidence in all parts of a technique class: barre work, center work, and across the floor. The school year begins with creative work and develops into a modern dance technique class. Students study the elements of dance and how to incorporate them into artistic expression. Historical beginnings of modern dance are introduced in this course.
High School - Ballet, Technique and History
Ballet at CPFA largely follows the terminology and structure of the Russian Vaganova syllabus, although similarities and differences to French and Italian schools are presented. Ballet courses include evaluation of natural body alignment, compared to the proper alignment for dance that facilitates efficient movement. Emphases on correct dance and anatomical terminology as well as principles of kinesiology specific to dance are utilized in class. Historical perspectives are explored through teacher and student-created lessons. Students learn to move forward with confidence in all parts of the ballet class: barre work, center work, across the floor, combinations, and choreography. Ballet class explores the history of ballet, including early ballet history, methods of ballet such as Vaganova and Cecchetti, famous and influential artists, and societal norms in ballet. Group activities with peers help to create a sense of community among the dance students. During preparations for performances, the dancers learn what it means to be a part of an ensemble and the dependent relationship of each member of the group. Dance students are also presented with many opportunities to create movement and hone their skills as creative artists.
High School - Rhythm Tap
Rhythm Tap, originally simply called “Tap,” is at the very root of American Tap dance. Influenced by African-American, Irish Step, and Spanish Flamenco dancers of the early twentieth century, Rhythm Tap, as we know it today, is a product of these dancers moving to urban areas and responding to the noise and pace of the city, particularly New York. Although a predecessor to “Broadway” or “Show Tap” and “Flash Tap”, a recent emergence in popularity because of artists such Savion Glover, and shows such as Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, causes Rhythm Tap to sometimes be mistaken for something new. The emphasis of Rhythm Tap centers on the sounds that ancers are making or what each dancer is “saying” with their feet. Improvisation is integral, and an understanding of rhythmic structures develops as students develop. Rhythm tap has a soft, centered, and lower stance than classical tap. Students study structure of tap phrases and improvisation while focusing on clarity of sound and appropriate speed; conversational and challenge tap; rehearsal and performance techniques; and historical perspectives including, but not limited to styles, creators, and performers. During preparations for performances, the dancers learn what it means to be a part of an ensemble and the symbiotic relationship of each member to the group. Dance students are presented with many opportunities to create movement and hone their skills as a creative artist. The auditory, rhythmic, and communicative nature of tap dance is explored through developing skills in improvisation and collaboration. Tap dance students participate in small and large group creative activities promoting mathematical, musical, and leadership skills on a weekly basis. During the school year, Tap students become aware of the importance of rhythmic integration and its role in training intelligent dancers.
High School - Technique and Jazz
Technique and Jazz is a course that provides students with the opportunity to develop and strengthen dance technique while enjoying the energy, excitement, and structure of a Jazz class. Group and individual instruction is designed based on the students’ specific areas of need. Technique and Jazz explores a variety of styles of jazz dance, with a focus on historical origins of jazz as well as influences and innovations of currently emerging dance styles. Connections are made between the improvisational aspect of jazz music and jazz dancing. Students work on strength training, alignment, flexibility, rhythm integration, classic and modern jazz styles, and rehearsal and performance technique. Jazz students are presented with many opportunities to create movement and hone their skills as creative artists. Jazz students learn about and demonstrate knowledge in dynamic range of performance, musicality, space, and partnering. This is explored through teacher choreography, creative movement exercises, and structured improvisations. Students also have an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and clear communication through ongoing, structured peer feedback.
High School - Modern Dance
The foundation of modern dance lies within the inspiration and the theory supporting the movement. Movement theories such as "fall and recovery," "contract and release," "gravity as force," as developed by modern dance pioneers such as Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, and Jose Limon, are explored through a modern dance technique class. Modern dance technique is presented with an awareness of historical and societal significance, influences of the founders of modern dance, as well as teacher and student ways of moving. Students become well-versed in modern dance terminology through physical experience, intellectual discussions, creative work, and written documentation. Movement analysis terminology developed by Rudolf Laban prepares students for viewing, creating, and discussing dance.
High School - Broadway and Stage Dance
Broadway and Stage Dance meets the needs of the dance/music/theatre student with a strong interest in dance. Preparing a “triple threat,” as musical theatre artists have been called, requires serious training in all three areas. Students explore theatre dance training in a variety of styles, time periods, and genres with an emphasis on singing and acting while dancing. American history and culture is often reflected in the words, music, and dances of American Musical Theatre. Through the study of musicals and their creators, students not only learn historic dances as well as new choreography, but also about the place and role of dance in American society. The units of study in Broadway and Stage Dance consist of exploring the songs, dances, creators, and performers of musicals containing examples of different components of musical theatre. In preparation for work in many styles of dance, Broadway and Stage Dance includes an intense warm-up series focusing on core training, strength, and coordination skills which may not be achieved by simply learning a production number. Across the floor exercises are designed to reflect the dance form, style, decade, and artistic work of a specific musical or musical number. Although they do not receive formal vocal or acting training in this course, students sing and act on a daily basis.