It’s An Art to Teach Dance

The announcement of “We have to teach dance next term,” struck fear into more than one teacher. How? What actually is dance? Where do I start? Help! 

Well, help was on the way in the form of one of our parents and dance teacher - Anna Tombleson. What an inspiration she is. By the end of our professional development session with Anna our teachers realised and got excited “We can do this!”

Anna was prepared with a slideshow demonstrating all the elements of teaching dance broken down into manageable pieces. Helping us to understand how to get the most out of our students while encouraging them to participate and not overwhelming them was of great assistance for staff.

When explaining exactly what dance is, Anna shared this definition: 

Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture. Dance can be categorised and described by its choreography, by its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.

Our teachers learned about the 5 elements of dance:

  • body awareness

  • space

  • time

  • energy

  • relationships 


Anna helped us to understand what each of these mean, how they are shown in dance and how we can use games to teach these. She then had us practise some moves to show each of these elements - the act of ‘doing the moves’ really does help to cement the ideas.

Having a go at these skills and techniques allowed us to develop a good understanding of what the elements are. Some of our teachers were really good sports and got up to play a game in front of everyone so we could all see how it was played.

As a staff we used elements  like ‘body base, mirroring, cannons, motifs, expressions, mood, levels, shape, structure, tempo, choreography and improvisation,’ so we knew which activities to practise with our students. 








A lesson plan format was shared which included dance terminology, activities to do and games to play that practice the elements of dance. These have helped to guide dance sessions within classes and ensure success and engagement. 



Who knew that getting everyone to enjoy dance and have a better understanding of how we use our body as a tool, could be so much fun?  Thank you Anna for your knowledge and inspiration!

So, whanau, come and celebrate with us at our Summer Festival of Movement. It’s your chance to see the students busting some moves that they have helped to choreograph and put together with their classmates.

Shows are Thursday, November 17, at 1p.m. and Friday, November 18, at 10a.m. Only $5 a seat.

Key words: Dance, movement, techniques, festival, teaching, games, learning.

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