Dance Drills & Structure of my lessons (How/Why/When)

My teaching approach approach always refers to isolation, integration and play, which is one of the main principles from Ido Portal´s Movement Culture.

After a warm up I like to explain techniques isolated by breaking each technique down into their components, e.G. 3 components of a bounce: use of knees, core and head/neck.

Then I will Integrate the technique into a task with higher complexity where it is used along other techniques and therefore becomes more difficult to execute properly. E.G. adding a step-pattern (like a pas de bourree or a cross-step), directions, travels or additional body isolations while keeping the bounce with its 3 components. I like to construct these drills with options to adjust the difficulty depending on the students level.

Last but not least I will make my students use the technique in a “real life situation” again. Meaning choreography or freestyle (= more freedom = play). This also functions as an indicator if the exercise was useful or not.

It is kind of easy to do create challenging choreographies. It should (!) also be easy to break down techniques because you basically just have to analyze what it is that you are doing to then explain it in an understandable, structured way. The most difficult part for me in this approach is to create drills as part of the “integration” segment. But trust me it is soooooo rewarding if you can make your students struggle with these exercises and to see actual benefits. Keep in mind that you have to fail !!! Not every drill will make your students grow so it is important to evaluate after. It is just trial and error until you find solutions for your students.

I think in Ballet, Jazz, Contemp. etc. the isolation, integration, play approach is used a lot already makes technique so much more available then in HipHop for instance. Just think about a classic pirouette exercise isolated at the bar or a port de bra just for the arms (isolation) different short across the floor combinations (integration) and then full choreography work. All in all I am convinced that this could be an important step for urban dance styles to be more appreciated in fine arts and research as well. We need the styles to be more teachable despite their freedom.

Maybe you should give this principle a go even if you are not in dance :)

Until next time.