ACT News

Teachers brush up on their dance skills from national curriculum at Ausdance ACT Move Up workshops

For a specialist dance teacher, cutting a rug in front of a packed classroom of school students and showing them the moves is all in a day's work and may even be fun.

But for school teachers who have never danced before the prospect could be daunting.

Calwell High School dance teacher Kym Degenhart kick starts her teaching year with the Ausdance ACT'™s Move Up workshop.
Calwell High School dance teacher Kym Degenhart kick starts her teaching year with the Ausdance ACT'™s Move Up workshop. Photo: Matt Bedford

The new national curriculum cements the subject's place as part of the arts, meaning it needs to be taught to all students from primary school.

Ausdance ACT's Move Up program aims to help primary and secondary teachers develop the confidence, knowledge and skills to teach the subject, dance education officer Danielle White said, beginning with summer workshops this week.

Dance teacher Rikki Bugden at the workshop
Dance teacher Rikki Bugden at the workshop Photo: Matt Bedford

"Teachers, particularly primary, who may have never danced in their lives are now expected to teach this so we're trying to give them some support and ideas and how to do that as a non-dancer or beginner dancer and how to incorporate dance in the everyday classroom," she said.

Ms White said although the national curriculum was yet to have final approval it was already being used in most ACT schools and more were expected to take it on board this year.

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"There wasn't really a set way to do dance, or even that you had to do dance, whereas now dance is part of the arts and does need to be taught and certain aspects covered like improvisation, creating dance and dance appraisal," she said.

More than 50 teachers from public and private ACT schools took the time out of their holidays for the workshops in contemporary dance, jazz, funk and hip-hop on Monday and Tuesday with professional dancers.

For specialised dance teachers such as Calwell High School's Kym Degenhart the workshops were a chance to pick up new ideas, inspiration and choreography to keep up with the ever-changing dance world.

She said Calwell high had the biggest dance program of all ACT public schools with three dance teachers, a specialised boys' class, and more students were taking up the subject.

"It's something Calwell is known for and we really pride ourselves on our dance program," she said.

Ms Degenhart said there was sometimes still a stigma attached to dance from other faculties or schools that did not value it as highly, but as evidence showing its benefits stacked up it was becoming more accepted.

"[The student] may have to explain how to do a step so they are using their English skills or they may have to count things out in steps so they're using their maths skills," she said.

"It really does tap into a lot more than just the creative subject of dance."

Ms White said the numbers of students choosing dance were increasing in Canberra.

"I hope schools are starting to understand the importance of dance and its cross-curriculum benefits," she said.

"There's obviously the fitness side … and they're using the mind in a more creative way … it gives students confidence and improves motor skills.

"For kids that lose attention it gets there brain thinking again."