Elise Boom - Docent techniek Boys Action

In de eerste plaats noemen wij het 'techniek' en niet 'ballet'. Wij geven de jongens een basis vanuit de gedachte van klassiek ballet en gebruiken wel klassieke muziek. Het doel van de technieklessen is om bewustwording, extensie en articulatie van het lichaam te bevorderen. Naast grondoefeningen werken wij voornamelijk in de 1ste en 2de positie. Bij iedere grondoefening zitten lenigheid en kracht elementen. In de les ligt het accent op draai en sprong technieken. Net als in de andere jongenslessen is het bewegen in de ruimte heel belangrijk. De verbindende passen en diagonalen sluiten goed aan bij de bewegingsdrang van de jongens.

Mischa Boom - Dagleiding, Huis choreograaf en Docent acrobatiek Boys Action

  • Mijn ervaring is dat jongens graag hun trucjes laten zien. Of het nu op toneel is of aan hun vrienden op school. Om deze trucjes goed te integreren in theaterdans en choreografieën werken we bij acro aan de uitvoering en moeilijkheid van deze elementen. Om dit te bereiken is het erg belangrijk dat de kracht en lenigheid in balans is. Vandaar dat ik het belangrijk vind om niet alleen de elementen te trainen maar ook om de afwerking en kracht te trainen zodat je altijd verder kan werken dan alleen dat element. Voorbeeld: als de handstand al met kromme armen is kan je nooit een flikflak leren. De basis, netheid en kracht zijn dus erg belangrijk. De jongens kunnen in acro goed hun creativiteit kwijt en hebben veel inbreng in de lessen. De acrobatiek lessen bevorderen het doorzettingsvermogen, core stability en partnerwerk.


TEDxBrainport 2011 - Erik Matser - Master Brains

Rachael Hutchinson - South Dartmoor Community College UK


Taken from Transcript of Interview for Best Practice Toolkit

1) Boys Dance – General

I think boys and dance is a very unique strand and I think it’s something that all educationalists - be it drama teachers, physical education or dance teachers, are involved in, that the actual process is – is valued. And that it’s really encouraging and it’s motivating boys, to take part in dance. Now that really depends on the school and where dance is placed, and the experience that the boys are coming from. At the school where I work, dance has really developed over a number of years, and now I would say that they follow a dance curriculum strand, which is the same as the girls, but that’s taken a long, long time to develop.

And I think the starting point was very different, and it was extremely challenging, because the boys came from a very, very different background. They had a very different experience to dance than the girls. I think boys don’t lose interest in dance. I think we lose them in – in education – the way our curriculum unfortunately has evolved. I think at primary, what's really exciting about boys and dance, is that it’s encompassed with the curriculum.

It’s encompassed with the fact they're taught, as a class, and their teacher encompassed their curriculum work around themes. So dance is part and parcel of their education. I don’t think they see it as a separate entity. I think unfortunately, when they come to secondary, the way our curriculum works, is it’s subject based.

And so boys and girls are suddenly put into the situation where they're going off to English lessons, science lessons, and we’re not so topic theme based, and we’re very specific towards obviously key stage four, going on to examinations that a very discrete subjects. I think the unfortunate thing with our curriculum, is dance then becomes very watered down, and it either belongs in a drama department, or in a PE department, and where we’re really fortunate, there are dance departments.

2) Do Boys learn differently to girls?

I think boys do learn differently, and I think you could have a science teacher sat here, and they would be saying, boys do learn differently. I think there is the sort of genetic, generic make up of the way we all behave, and I think what we've got to capture, is the way – whether it’s a boy or girl thinks and feels, and I do treat boys differently, but at the same time, I treat girls - and different girls - differently. It could be just a different differentiation within a class.

So the way I teach able girls is very different to the way I teach less able girls. I think boys is just another strand, another aspect, where good teachers, good practitioners, are able to differentiate, and I think what we've got to get on board, and I think, you know, one of the things that I’ve rally focussed on, when I teach boys in dance, is how they learn, and the way they learn.
And I think it’s encompassing things like competitiveness, challenging, you know, they, they like to achieve, they like success. We teach dance as part of their physical education curriculum, so they come to us with already that motivation to win, to be part of something that’s successful, and I think sometimes, we can try and re engage boys in dance in a very creative strand, and they're not necessarily set up for that.

Not necessarily straight away. So I think it’s trying to engage in where dance is placed in your school, and in relation to the girls as well. And that has a huge effect on I think, the way they then behave in their learning patterns in dance.

I think the way in which we've engaged the boys, the way in which they learn best, they like to be challenged. They like to be motivated. They like physicality. My background is Physical Education, so a lot of my teaching, a lot of my styles and methods is very physical. It’s very hands on. Very contact work. Lots of um, you know, running, jumping, falling, rolling. Very action based.

3) Teaching mixed sex groups

The school that I teach at, we teach mixed dance in year seven, and I think that works really well as a transition for their primary work. I think it, it’s a nice link from being together at primary school in year six, and it’s a nice foundation.

It allows them to have a – the same starting point, with the creativity, and the composition, and appreciation of the dance work. We then, in years eight to nine, stream the students into single sex teaching. I think that’s really good. There’s really good aspects to that, because I think they do have very different agendas that we need to develop and work on.
But I think there can be this tendency, that if you’ve worked just with girls on their own, they don’t have that same energy, that same dynamics, the motivation that boys do have. Just as I think - boys, loose creativity. I think they lose that sense of packing, the aesthetics and the creative aspects of dance. And I think – I think both can work equally well, learning off each other.

And we’re at a stage now, at the school where I work, that I think the girls want to be doing what the boys are doing. They see it as a challenge, and they see that the lift work, the see the physical work, they see all the sorts of physical theatre type style of dance. It’s very different to perhaps the ballet, or the contemporary work that they're used to. So I think you know, what's exciting, in this day and age in the curriculum, that boys and girls can learn equally well and successfully off each other. But also, there’s real strengths to teaching them apart.

I think one of the keys things as a practitioner, one of the most important things we should really think about, is ensuring that both boys and girls feel comfortable and confident, to express themselves in dance, and I think that’s partly the way we teach. I think it’s very easy to go into a dance lesson, to teach the same dance lesson the way we think it should be taught, and not address the needs of the group.

And a lot of people do say that mixed groups, boys and girls, there is this tendency that the boys feel exposed. I think that’s down to our teaching styles and our methods, and the way we make the children feel in our classes. And I think for an example, you wouldn’t start your dance unit with contact work. You wouldn’t start by saying right, get together. You must get with the opposite sex.

And I think you’ve got to really think about meeting the needs of the individuals, and the group that you’ve got in front of you. Making them feel comfortable. Making them feel secure in what they’re doing, and management of their body, the way they're behaving, the way they're performing, the tasks you set. So if I had a mixed group I would ensure that perhaps I used some of the boys’ tasks to start with, to get them on board. Maybe it’s a bit physical.
Maybe they’re demonstrating first. Then open the creativity, where the girls can introduce their ideas. And I think it’s that really nurturing and developing the class that you’ve got in front of you. So that they feel comfortable and confident to then express themselves.

There's an ongoing debate in dance whether dance should be taught in single sex or stood mixed gender groups. And I think it’s a difficult one. I think historically, well I don’t think dance teachers often have a say in the grouping it’s taught in. If it’s in drama, if it’s in PE, in groups of either, and you teach them.
I think ideally, if it’s a very new curriculum area and you're really trying to develop boys’ dance, it works to have them as single sex groups, because I think the way in which you establish and develop boys’ dance work is – is very different to the way you teach girls. However, I think now, I’m thinking about the school I teach in, it works really well to have them together, and in fact all our extra curricular clubs are mixed.

We work with a dance company, it’s mixed. And I think, you know, they really learn well off each other and I think good teachers, good practitioners work well with mixed groups. They can really learn a lot off each other, and there's real strengths of girls, I think the boys can develop like the creativity aspects.

And boys equally, with their motivation, their energy, the drive, the physicality, it’s brilliant for the girls. So I think there is that need that we don’t keep them apart, and I think very much at our school, our philosophy, it’s a dance curriculum for all, and you know, you're developing dance as a curriculum, not necessarily difference for different children.

4) Establishing the dance curriculum in school

When we try and develop boys’ dance, in the curriculum, in secondary schools, I think the biggest motivational factor is the value placed on the subjects. A lot of teachers I work with, often want advice and support on how to develop boys’ dance, whether it’s at key stage three, or key stage four, and often, the underlying factor is the values and the – the attitude of dance has been placed upon the subject, from senior management level, from other practitioners, the teachers in school.

I think the success that I’ve had in dance at the school I’ve worked in, and colleagues - my colleagues would agree with me as well, is that the motivation, the support, the encouragement, not only the head of the school, has given to dance as a subject, but to our colleagues and the teachers we work with. That dance isn’t devalued. We are in a physical education department.

Dance at the college is – we are in the physical education department, I think what's exciting, and I think what’s really placed value on our dance, is that it’s seen as equal part to the rugby, to the football, the basketball. So for example, when a boy has to knock on that PE office door, and ask to be excused from a basketball match, because there's a dance rehearsal, it’s seen as equality.

It’s seen as - as important, not just from the dance teachers, but from the Head of PE. And so real value is placed on what those boys are learning or experiencing from, from dance, and that’s right from the top of the school as well. That the value that the Head, and the senior management team place on dance, that we sit on the management team meetings, we are a department in our own right.

Dance is placed on the league table for the school, and I think that says a lot about the value of the subject, so the PE teachers, the dance teachers, the drama teachers, really need to address where dance is in terms of the whole school. And the bigger picture, you know, to help support the students.

5) Teaching and learning strategies

I think boys and girls do work differently in dance, and even at GCSE level, where we've got mixed groups, or A’level, often, we’ll set the same task, but they're approached very differently. The boys approach choreographic tasks very differently to girls.
And so I think what we've got to make sure we do is in key stage three, we've got to really ensure that boys feel comfortable, as comfortable as the girls, with the creativity, the process of being creative. Now one of the ways you can do that with boys is to set very specific guidelines, so in year seven, in year eight, really build a foundation where they feel comfortable, in the unknown. It’s like boys like to achieve. They don’t like to get things

And they like to be successful, so what we've got to engage in our, I think in our method of teaching in dance, is an environment where those boys achieve, and that the tasks are short, quick outcomes, it’s very goal, goal orientated, and it’s like building blocks.

I think girls do work in a more of an open environment, where they're happy to explore, they're happy to get it wrong at times, and I think boys quite like to get things right. And they like a quick turnaround. And I think if we teach like that, and we give them a framework where they're very clear what we expect of them, then gradually you'll see they’ll develop, develop and they’ll flourish, and eventually they, the doors will open – they’ll be a lot more creative.

And they’ll explore a lot more, but it’s that early stages of foundation key stage three, that will help build on that to key stage four.

6) The place of dance in education

We’re always justifying the place of dance, justifying why we teach dance to boys, or why boys should have dance on their curriculum. I think we've got to move away from that. And we've got to look at the bigger picture. How can dance improve behaviour management? How can dance improve attendance? What is the place; the bigger place, the bigger picture of boys dance, or dance in general, with the whole school improvement plan?

We've done some really exciting projects at the college, that have really put boys’ dance on the map nationally. But actually, it was more about getting them to come to school, improving their attendance, improving their self-esteem. Keeping them out of trouble, behaviour management tracking them. And I think we've used it to engage boys in education.

So I think dance teachers should celebrate that, that dance isn’t just a fantastic creative activity, but it’s a tool, it’s a vehicle, to engage children in another way of learning, in schools.

Childhood Years: Ages Six through Twelve - Prepared by Karen DeBord, Ph.D., Child Development Specialist

Childhood Years: Ages Six through Twelve

When they start school, children enter “middle childhood” and remain there until they reach adolescence. This publication will help parents and other adults look at the general characteristics of children ages 6 through 12, consider special concerns of parents and caregivers, and give practical tips.

Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.


Between the ages of 6 and 12, the child’s world expands outward from the family as relationships are formed with friends, teachers, coaches, caregivers, and others. Because their experiences are expanding, many factors can alter children’s actions and impact how they learn to get along. Some situations can create stress and affect self-esteem. The middle childhood period is a time to prepare for adolescence.

Children develop at various rates. Some children in middle childhood seem very mature while others seem very immature. During this stage, behavior may depend on the child’s mood, his or her experience with various types of people, or even what happened that day.

Parental concerns

Parents with children in middle childhood may begin to re-evaluate what kind of parent they have been up to this point. With children entering school, parents may be wondering if their child has what it takes to “make it” and succeed. Up to this point, children have always looked up to parents as the source of information, but now children judge parents more and label their actions differently.

Parents struggle with how to support their children’s independence while understand- ing the child’s new connections with others (friends and teachers). With children’s natural curiosity and expanding knowledge, parents often find children question them more, and they are asked to respond in greater detail to larger issues, such as why they must work overtime, why some people act unfairly, or even why there is war. Children continually struggle to understand new information that is difficult to understand.

In middle childhood, children typically spend less time with their families and parents, and families spend less time in care taking, reading, talking, teaching, and playing. Less monitoring and fewer verbal cues are needed, particularly for routine tasks (such as baths or brushing teeth).

As children get older, behavior can be managed with verbal reasoning, deprivation of privileges, appeals to child’s sense of humor, or reminders of the consequences of his or her actions.

In addition to typical development, daily life challenges are normal. For example, most children will attend school. With school comes many transitions. Being afraid of new situations or feeling peer pressure are predictable stressors. Other stressors are

not as predictable. Any disruption of what is considered normal for the child causes stress. Cooperative Extension has additional materials on this topic to help parents and children in making a decision to be in self-care. To read more on stress, refer to the North Carolina Extension publication FCS-457, Helping Children Cope with Stress.

Developmental Aspects of Middle Childhood

Social and emotional development

There are signs of growing independence. Children are becoming so “worldly” that they typically test their growing knowl- edge with back talk and rebellion.

• Common fears include the unknown, failure, death, family problems, and rejection.

• Friends may live in the same neighbor- hood and are most commonly the same sex.

• Children average five best friends and at least one “enemy,” who often changes from day to day.

• Children act nurturing and commanding with younger children but follow and depend on older children.

Children are beginning to see the point of view of others more clearly.

Children define themselves in terms of their appearance, possessions, and activities.

There are fewer angry outbursts and more ability to endure frustration while accepting delays in getting things they “want.”

Children often resolve conflict through peer judges who accept or reject their actions.

• Children are self-conscious and feel as if everyone notices even small differences (new haircut, facial hair, a hug in public from a parent).

• Tattling is a common way to attract adult attention in the early years of middle childhood.

Inner control is being formed and practiced each time decisions are made.

• Around age 6-8, children may still be afraid of monsters and the dark. These are replaced later by fears of school or

disaster and confusion over social relationships.

• To win, lead, or to be first is valued. Children try to be the boss and are unhappy if they lose.

• Children often are attached to adults (teacher, club leader, caregiver) other than their parents and will quote their new “hero” or try to please him or her to gain attention.

• Early in middle childhood, “good” and “bad “ days are defined as what is approved or disapproved by the family.

• Children’s feelings get hurt easily. There are mood swings, and children often don’t know how to deal with failure.

Physical Development

• Growth is slower than in preschool years, but steady. Eating may fluctuate with activity level. Some children have growth spurts in the later stages of middle childhood.

• In the later stages of middle childhood, body changes (hips widen, breasts bud, pubic hair appears, testes develop) indicate approaching puberty.

Children recognize that there are differences between boys and girls.

• Children find difficulty balancing high energy activities and quiet activities.

• Intense activity may bring tiredness. Children need around 10 hours of sleep each night.

• Muscle coordination and control are uneven and incomplete in the early stages, but children become almost as coordinated as adults by the end of middle childhood.

• Small muscles develop rapidly, making playing musical instruments, hammer- ing, or building things more enjoyable.

• Baby teeth will come out and permanent ones will come in.

• Permanent teeth may come in before the mouth has fully grown, causing dental crowding.

• Eyes reach maturity in both size and function.

• The added strain of school work (smaller print, computers, intense writing) often creates eye-tension and leads some children to request eye examinations.


A few cautions about TV: Too little physical activity can affect weight in children. Too many aggressive acts on TV can affect mood and actions, and children can begin to think that what they see on TV is the “norm.” Limiting the amount of television watched and monitor- ing what is watched can help parents assure that the TV that is seen relates to their family’s values.


There is no magic age at which a child is ready to be left alone. Parents should con- sider carefully the child’s willingness to be left alone, the child’s day to day responsibility, the child’s ability to anticipate and avoid unsafe situations.

Mental Development

Children can begin to think about their own behavior and see consequences for actions. In the early stages of concrete thinking, they can group things that belong together (for instance babies, fathers, mothers, aunts are all family members). As children near adolescence, they master sequencing and ordering, which are needed for math skills.

Children begin to read and write early in middle childhood and should be skillful in reading and writing by the end of this stage.

• They can think through their actions and trace back events that happened to explain situations, such as why they were late to school.

• Children learn best if they are active while they are learning. For example, children will learn more effectively about traffic safety by moving cars, blocks, and toy figures rather than sitting and listening to an adult explain the rules.

• Six- to 8-year-olds can rarely sit for longer than 15-20 minutes for an activity. Attention span gets longer with age.

• Toward the beginning of middle child- hood, children may begin projects but finish few. Allow them to explore new materials. Nearing adolescence, children will focus more on completion.

• Teachers set the conditions for social interactions to occur in schools. Under- stand that children need to experience various friendships while building esteem.

• Children can talk through problems to solve them. This requires more adult time and more sustained attention by children.

• Children can focus attention and take time to search for needed information.

• They can develop a plan to meet a goal.

• There is greater memory capability because many routines (such as brushing teeth, tying shoes, and bathing) are automatic now.

• The Child begins to build a self-image as a “worker.” If encouraged, this is positive in later development of career choices.

• Many children want to find a way to earn money.

Moral Development

Moral development is more difficult to discuss in terms of developmental mile- stones. Moral development occurs over time through experience. Research implies that if a child knows what is right, he or she will do what is right. Even as adults, we know that there are often gray areas when it comes to making tough decisions about right and wrong. There are a lot of “it depends” responses depending on the particular situation.

Most adults agree that they should act in a caring manner and show others they care about them. People want to come into contact with others who will reinforce them for who they are. It is no different for children. To teach responsible and caring behaviors, adults must first model caring behaviors with young children as they do with other adults. While modeling, focus on talking with children. This does not mean talking at children but discussing with them in an open-ended way. Work to create an air of learning and a common search for understanding, empathy, and appreciation. Dialogue can be playful, serious, imaginative, or goal oriented. It can also provide the opportunity to question why. This is the foundation for caring for others.

Next, practice caring for others. Adults need to find ways to increase the capacity to care. Adults generally spend time telling children what to do or teaching facts. There is little time to use the newly developed higher order thinking and to practice caring interactions and deeds.

The last step to complete the cycle of caring is confirmation. Confirmation is encouraging the best in others. A trusted adult who identifies something admirable and encourages the development of that trait can go a long way toward helping children find their place in this world. Love, caring, and positive relations play central roles in ethics and moral education.


Children want to feel useful and have a sense that they are contributing to the family. To help children learn household responsibilities, parents might allow children to choose from a list of chores. Paid chores should be in addition to what is generally expected. For example. brushing teeth, taking a bath, and keeping a room clean may be expected. Drying dishes, putting away folded clothes, or emptying trash cans may be chores that earn allowance and contribute to the family.

Money becomes more important since children now under- stand how it is valued in our society. Earning an allowance is a two- way agreement; children do agreed upon work with little reminders in exchange for agreed upon money or goods. Charts with pictures to check-off chores help children remember what to do. The older children get, the more capable they are, but remember to choose age-appropriate duties.

Practical Advice for All Adults Working with Children in Middle Childhood

Social and emotional development

• Encourage non-competitive games, particularly toward the beginning of middle childhood, and help children set individual goals.

• Give children lots of positive attention and let them help define the rules.

• Talk about self-control and making good decisions. Talk about why it is important to be patient, share, and respect others’ rights. Adults must pick battles care- fully so there is limited nagging and maximized respect while children build confidence in their ability to make decisions.

• Teach them to learn from criticism. Ask “how could you do that differently next time?”

• Always be alert to the feelings associated with what children tell you.

• Give children positive feedback for successes.

Physical Development

It is important to help children feel proud of who they are and what they can do. Avoid stereotyping girls into particular activities and boys into others. Let both genders choose from a range of activities.

• Encourage children to balance their activities between high energy and quiet activity. Children release tension through play. Children may be extremely active when tired. Encourage quiet reading, painting, puzzles, or board games before bedtime.

• Regular dental and physical check-ups are an important part of monitoring a child’s growth and development. This allows parents to screen for potential problems. If a child accidentaly loses a permanent tooth, finding the tooth and taking it and the child to the dentist may save the permanent tooth.

Mental Development

Rapid mental growth creates many of the positive as well as negative interactions between children and adults during middle childhood. Some of the ways adults can help children continue to develop their thinking skills are:

• Adults can ask “what if...” or “how could we solve this” questions to help children develop problem- solving skills.

• Reading signs, making lists, and counting prices are all exercises to practice sequencing skills.

• Asking children if you can help them think about ways to talk with other children can provide limited guidance as they negotiate social relationships.

• Picking focused times to talk — without distractions — allows adults and children to converse and listen.


Each stage in life is a time of growth. Middle childhood is a time to bridge dependence with approaching independence. The time of wonder and spontaneity is fading, replaced by feeling self-conscious and on guard. The new ways children act are ways they are exploring their future potential. Some behaviors will pass, but they must be experienced in order for the child to grow and be ready to face the stage of finding his or her identity during adolescence.


Elkind, D. (1994). Ties that Stress. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Elkind, D. (1989) The Hurried Child. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.

Elkind, D. (1984) All Grown up and No Place To Go. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.

Kohlberg, L. (1969). “Stage and sequence: The cognitive approach to socialization.” In D.A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Maccoby, E.E. & Martin, J.A. (1983). “Socialization in the context of the family: Parent-child interaction.” In Paul H. Mussen (Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology (4th edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Noddings, N. (1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hartup, W.W. (1983). “Peer Relations.” In Paul H. Mussen (Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology (4th edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

04/04—2M—BS/GM E04-44512


Prepared by Karen DeBord, Ph.D., Child Development Specialist

Dance: Mything boys - New South Wales Department of Education and Training

New South Wales Department of Education and Training

Extract from Curriculum Support for Creative Arts 7-12 Vol 6 No 2 2001

© 2001 NSW Department of Education and Training Curriculum Support Directorate

The awful pun that is the title of this article serves a couple of purposes. It suggests that there are myths surrounding boys’ participation in dance. These include the perception that dance is for girls and not for boys. This is a myth perpetuated by the majority, including parents, teachers and school system leaders.

The title also suggests that the dance curriculum and dance as an is “missing” boys. The works that are being made and performed only represent half the population and therefore expression in the art form is gender-deficient. It also suggests that boys are “missing out” on some essential skills, knowledge and understandings that they need to live full and enriched lives.

In April, a selection of exemplary works presented by candidates in 2 Unit Dance in the 2000 Higher School Certificate was shown at Callback. The Saturday night show that I attended was outstanding overall. Twenty- four works in performance and composition were presented. Two of the works were composed by males. Only one male performed.

The reason for the absence of males in Callback does not reflect the standard of the work of male candidates in dance in the HSC. It reflects, as we all know, the number of males electing dance as a subject at this level.

Ten years ago I based my master’s research on Targeting boys in dance education. I conducted a dance program for Year 7 students which included practical learning experiences in performing and composing. I surveyed the perceptions and attitudes of both boys and girls to the practical learning experiences. I also surveyed perceptions and attitudes to dance imagery (photos and video).

Results of the study in relation to perceptions of dance imagery supported a hypothesis that dance is viewed as a female activity. Boys responded to dance imagery using language that was derogatory and that equated men in dance with effeminacy and homosexuality.

However, boys’ attitudes to the experience of a practical dance program did not support this hypothesis. Approximately half the boys in the program responded very positively to performing and composing activities. This demonstrated a disparity between boys’ perceptions about dance as observers and as participants.

Interestingly, despite evidence that at least half the male cohort of that Year 7 had positive experiences in dance, not one boy elected dance at the beginning of Year 9. However, during Year 9, five boys joined the class from other electives. This was the largest group of boys I had ever taught in one class. Most of those boys left school at Year 10. No boys elected dance in Year 11.

Ten years have passed and there does not appear to be any significant changes in boys’ attitudes and participation rates in dance. Ten years on I wonder about the boys I taught as part of my research. Would more boys have responded positively if:

• different content had been taught in the program?

• they had developed skills, knowledge and understandings in dance through primary school?

• they weren’t prevented from engaging in dance because they feared it was feminine to do so?

I also wonder about the five boys who did study dance in the junior elective (albeit as a second or third choice after other electives failed to engage them). There are many questions I could pose in relation to the whys and wherefores of those boys choosing dance.

A significant problem

I believe it is timely to bring this problem to the fore again. And it is a problem—a problem that dance educators, school communities and education systems must face, and solve. I intend to bring the problem to the foreground, on this occasion by looking at current research and opinion about boys and dance and the status of dance in the curriculum in 2001.

A recent submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry by the Australia Council into the education of boys raises some interesting points in relation to boys and learning in the arts.

Firstly, the article reiterates the importance of Gardner’s theories about intelligence and learning styles. The author highlights the ways in which individuals (both boys and girls) learn, and discusses the importance of the arts in drawing on specific intelligences due to the nature of their content, knowledge and teaching methodologies. Teachers and students of dance know how the art form engages and develops all of the seven intelligences: verbal– linguistic, mathematical–logical, visual–spatial, bodily–kinesthetic, auditory–musical, interpersonal and interpersonal. I suggest that this development simultaneously of all intelligences is rare. There is a special synergy that exists in dance because mind and body are both (always) engaged in the act of performing or composing dance. Given that it is well- documented that many boys prefer to learn kinesthetically, dance provides a unique opportunity for them to develop the other intelligences through a preferred mode of learning.

The second point of interest in the submission is the survey of Australian research, most particularly the comments made about David Spurgeon’s paper delivered at the Dance and Child International (daCi) conference in Finland in 1997. In this paper, Spurgeon discusses a number of reasons why boys don’t dance, including problems associated with the dance curriculum and dance pedagogy. Extracts from his paper regarding these issues are printed here with his kind permission.

Curriculum K-12 Directorate

The dance curriculum

The eight part TV series Dancing, an Anglo-American co-production is full of images from around the world of men and women dancing. It would seem that the low participation of males in dance in WASP cultures is peculiar to those cultures. In Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean, instruction in dancing is an important part of the school curriculum. Children learn “the proper movements for each gender—women swing their hips but don’t flap their knees, men flap their knees but don’t swing their hips” (Jonas 1992:111). A father of three daughters and a son explains how important it is for his son to learn the men’s dance, not the women’s movements, in order that the boy “be seen in the minds of the public as a boy” (Jonas, 1992:112). It would seem that in WASP cultures there is no ‘men’s dance’. However, a closer examination of my own culture (Sydney, Australia, in the 1990s) revealed several significant instances of men’s dances. The successful show Tap Dogs originated in Sydney, toured extensively overseas including London and New York, and is now back in Sydney. It features seven very skilful males in ordinary summer clothing, performing intricate tap routines. Occasional visits from African and Latin American companies give Sydney people the chance to participate in Afro- Caribbean dance classes. The attendees are usually mixed gender. I am told by my dance education colleagues in the U.K. that Afro-Caribbean dance styles are the most popular in dance programs in schools. It appeals equally to white and black, male and female. Nightclubs and dance parties are as popular in Sydney as in many other cultures. There are plenty of men dancing in these nightclubs. Students all over Australia who are interested in Theatre and Drama are taking an enthusiastic part in movement styles and improvisation classes— again, the participants are mixed gender. Rock video clips show plenty of images of men dancing.

So, men are dancing but they don’t seem to be enrolling in public school dance programs or private studio dance classes. Why? Leigh McSwain presented the results of a survey of attitudes towards dance amongst Sydney high school students at the 1994 daCi Conference. She found that “students of all backgrounds are highly motivated to involve themselves in the popular dance of their own culture” (McSwain, 1994: 257). Amongst her findings were that the most disliked style was “Folk and National”. It is not surprising that this was the style most had been exposed to in their primary or elementary schools. McSwain also found that “both ballet and contemporary excerpts, where dance as art is the primary function, were disliked consistently by the whole population” (1994:258). It would seem that we dance educators are not giving the broad population of students the dance experiences that they want and enjoy. We may have forgotten the old adage “start from where the students are”. I suspect that too many primary school dance lessons are either Folk and National dances, or preparing a set dance for a local festival, and that too many high school dance lessons are classical ballet or modern. We seem to have neglected the creative aspect of the curriculum by denying the young student all kinds of improvisation dance activities that enable him or her to make a dance and to use dance to solve a problem. We may also be ignoring the teenagers’ interest in rhythm and in a variety of styles by giving them too much ballet and modern too soon.

I am proposing that we are turning boys off dance by what dance experiences we give them. I am not, of course, arguing against the rightful place of ballet and modern in the dance education of the interested, enthusiastic student. I am cautioning against giving the broad majority of students dance experiences that may be largely irrelevant to them. To draw an analogy with our colleagues in music and literature; the composer Mahler may well be an important figure for the student who loves and knows music but to ask the average thirteen-year-old, to sit through a symphony of his, may well be a powerful disincentive to study music. Similarly, the study of Shakespeare can be a joy or a curse depending upon the age and interest of the student.

We have, at our disposal, a wide range of dance activities with which to stimulate most students. There’s a men’s dance in my culture but, by and large, we ignore it.

Dance pedagogy

On a recent study trip I watched two dance classes for tertiary students who were training to be physical education teachers. Both groups were mixed gender. Both teachers were female. The one class was guided gently and carefully through appropriate warm-ups on to the main topic of the lesson which involved individuals working on composing a specific movement phrase. There was a discernible focus and very little student talk. The other class was introduced to its warm-up with the phrase “Let’s do our mad warm-up”. The “mad” seemed to refer to a very dated bouncy music track and lots of shaking of the teacher’s hands as she led the class. There was little focus and lots of whispered asides. The students looked partly bored and partly embarrassed. In 1988 at the DaCi conference in London I made a plea for teachers to “show a respect for their students’ social, emotional and intellectual stage of development particularly with regard to the language used” (Spurgeon, 1988:279). It would seem that students continue to be made to feel uncomfortable in some dance classes by the use of childish, inappropriate language.

Stinson (1994:2) comments on the authoritarian nature of dance classes when she says, “in most dance technique classes, the teacher is the authority and the only recognized source of knowledge.” Innes (1988:37) is writing about the teaching of ballet when

she says, “ballet teaches an unquestioning obedience to authority at all times”. She goes on to comment “gentility of spirit in many dances is just a euphemism for timidity and diffidence. Their dance training teaches them an unquestioning attitude to information and those who provide it.” (Innes, 1988:42). My current job involves, amongst other classes, teaching movement improvisation to both drama students and dance students. I have experimented on a few occasions, by giving the same improvisation class to both groups, the drama students—both sexes—attacked the work with total focus and a palpable intensity. The dance students—all female—greeted their first few improvisation sessions with hesitancy, caution, apprehensiveness and poor focus. It would seem that all the authoritarian training and externally imposed discipline, all that time spent on working on and refining their instrument, and doing as they are told has rendered many dance students incapable of playing with movement, unwilling to create work and unable to simply have fun with dance.

In the Dancers’ Transition report commissioned by the Australian Dance Council in 1989 a dancer comments, “Dancers are constantly criticized, losing their self esteem. The notion exists that only dance is worthwhile, not the dancer” (Beall, 1989:29). Innes cites Suzanne Gordon who argues that criticism is so central to ballet that it becomes a compliment, that is, in being criticized one has been corrected but noticed. (Innes, 1988:43). McSwain makes the point that “fear of failure at a physical activity, such as dance is a potent negative motivator for male adolescents” (1994:257).

One of the problems with physical activities such as dance, drama and physical education is that mistakes are public. It needs skillful teaching to provide protection for students and an atmosphere where mistakes are not the source of further problems.

When one considers that in many dance classes students could receive embarrassing instructions, be treated in an authoritarian manner, be criticized, and perhaps have their mistakes on public show, the surprise is not that there are so few men but that so many women put up with it.

We need a radical rethink about how we teach our subject. If the above pedagogical characteristics persist then we may be in danger of teaching to ever decreasing numbers of students.

A third point of interest in the submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into the education of boys by the Australia Council is the description of the intertextual nature of dance performance. In this extract the author emphasizes the importance for all students to engage with subjects that promote new ways of thinking and new ways of developing creativity for the 21st century.

When you go to see a dance work currently, it is not unusual for it to incorporate text narrative or perhaps deconstructed text, a visual installation, an electronic media component, specifically composed music, and live musical or vocal rendition as part of it. Artists collaborate with other artists all the time, and in so doing, they create new forms of arts practice. They are in the business of synthesizing complementary and even seemingly discordant notes to create a new whole. It is one of the reasons they challenge society; they don’t readily recognize borders and limitations, they experiment with new tools to make the unthinkable thinkable, they work with technology, science, physics and mathematics to generate their works.

Finally, the submission makes a claim for the significance of the arts as central to the curriculum, both as areas of curriculum content and as teaching methodology. For boys, the case is made for early intervention in learning and the possible provision of single and joint gender spaces of learning. This enables boys to learn in and through dance, in a way that will engage and stimulate them, and allow them to reflect on their arts experiences as males.

The current status of dance in the curriculum

Recent changes in the dance curriculum begin to address the gender imbalance. The new Creative Arts K–6 Syllabus provides outcomes and content for all students Early Stage 1–Stage 3. This syllabus must be fully implemented in government schools by 2006. This has important implications for teachers of secondary dance:

• primary teachers will need support and professional development to effectively implement the Creative Arts K–6 Syllabus

• increasingly, boys coming into Year 7 will have dance experiences in performing, composing and appreciating

• through linkages projects, secondary teachers may be able to assist in the dance education of boys in Stage 3.

The Arts K–6 CD-ROM, currently under development by the Curriculum Support Directorate, provides support for K–6 teachers implementing this new syllabus. Gender perspectives in relation to dance are dealt with in this resource.

The gender issue

As a teacher of dance there are a number of considerations that need to be addressed to manage the gender issue in the classroom. Establishing a cohesive culture becomes a challenge for both the school and the teacher.

Students bring to the classroom a range of cultural values, attitudes and perceptions concerning what dance

is. Students’ backgrounds and previous dance experiences can influence this.

When developing learning experiences, consider making choices based on non-gender specific content or themes.

Consider selecting stimulus material, music style, and activities that reinforce the notion of dance as a whole class activity. Students may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the culture and practice of a “traditional” dance class and therefore will often respond with extroverted behavior.

It is important to create a classroom culture where learning experiences take students from what they know and feel comfortable doing, to something new. Encourage risk-taking by providing a non-threatening environment. Familiarity with the breadth of dance as a learning area will break down some of the misconceptions and stereotypical behavior often demonstrated by the male students.

Teachers should provide a range of learning experiences that focus on dance as a whole class activity incorporating single and mixed sex groupings.

Stimulus material should be selected that is non-gender specific, leading to exploration of movement that does not challenge the student’s sense of “maleness”.

The lesson focus or theme should be generic in nature and non-stereotypical, developing familiarity and comfort in the learning experiences.

The Differences in Motor Skills Between Boys & Girls by Dana Sparks

The Differences in Motor Skills Between Boys & Girls

By Dana Sparks, eHow Contributor updated November 15, 2010


Motor skills develop at different rates in girls and boys. Studies, like those produced by the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, have backed up the findings of parents and teachers alike: There truly are differences in the way boys' motor skills develop as compared to girls. One sex might develop a particular motor skill at one age while the other develops it months or years later. 

Spatial-Mechanical Function

There is more cortical area in a boy's brain solely devoted to spatial-mechanical functioning than in a girl's brain. This means that a boy will be more compelled to cause things to move through the air, more likely to throw a ball, push a friend, or jump from a swing just to experience that movement. This drive to watch things move helps explain why boys often choose video games and sports that involve movement. As infants, boys are about two months ahead of girls in making sense of the law of motion and earlier to figure out how things move. 

Fine Motor Skills

Girls' fine motor skills begin to develop up to six years earlier than boys, which helps explain why young girls seem happy drawing, coloring, painting and cutting things out of paper. And because she doesn't have the same need to watch things fly around the room as a boy does, a girl is often more satisfied sitting still to practice her fine motor skills. 

Gross Motor Skills

Girls often develop their gross motor skills earlier than boys as well. They might crawl, walk and run slightly earlier than their male counterparts. According to Parenting.com, things change sometime during the preschool years, when boys' gross motor skills develop rapidly and they begin to outpace girls in physical abilities.



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Developmental Differences in Boys & Girls By Lana Kuhns

Developmental Differences in Boys & Girls

By Lana Kuhns, eHow Contributor updated September 28, 2010


Boys and girls deserve equal opportunities to learn and grow. Some developmental differences between boys and girls are apparent at infancy and others don't emerge until adolescence. Boys tend to outperform girls in visual-spatial tasks and girls have an edge when it comes to language skills. However, we need to remember these differences are not justification for favoring either gender or enforcing stereotypes. Parents and teachers should provide equal opportunities for boys and girls to reach their full potential in all creative and educational activities. 

Activitity Level

There's no doubt about it, study after study seems to show that little boys are more likely to squirm, kick and wriggle than little girls, according to Anita Sethi, a psychologist who specializes in early education. Dr.Sethi said individual differences in motor activity begin to appear in infancy, but in general boys and girls hit all the major developmental milestones at around the same time. 


Boys are more emotional than we give them credit for; they simply process emotions differently from girls, according to Parenting.com. An infant boy at 6 months old may appear calm in the face of frustration when in reality his heart and breathing rate suggest he is experiencing stress. Girls are more likely to want to talk about their feelings and frustrations with a parent or trusted friend while boys would prefer to vent their feelings in a physical activity like engaging in a sport or wrestling match. Parents and teachers can use these differences to teach children to control their emotions and avoid outbursts. Letting a boy stand, rather than sit, in the classroom to answer a question may actually help him to think about the answer. 

Language Skills

According to education expert Abigail James, the average 20-month old girl has twice the vocabulary of a boy the same age. Toddler girls begin to talk sooner and more clearly than boys, so they have had more practice. The boys catch up later, although if nothing is done to help them improve their speaking abilities they may always seem to lag behind. By including them in conversations at home with friends and family members you can help improve language skills. It's important to read books to them before they go to bed at night. Boys and girls have similar verbal intelligence but girls are more likely to read for pleasure unless the boys are encouraged to make it a habit. 

Learning Styles

Research into child development indicates that boys and girls rely on different parts of the brain when it comes to learning, according to the website Education.com. Girls rely on language, either written or spoken, as their primary source of information. Boys have a sensory approach to learning, which means they understand and process information better when they can manipulate the material or view a demonstration. When a teacher gives verbal instructions to the class, girls are more likely to understand the information than if the teacher began the class with a demonstration. There isn't any right or wrong style of learning, only different. Parents and teachers need to be aware of these differences to give children the best advantage in learning. 



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The Australian Ballet's artistic health team

The Australian Ballet's artistic health team has become a reference worldwide, and not just because they got David Hallberg back onstage after his two-year struggle with injuries. Their results speak for themselves: While foot stress fractures and hip arthroscopies are common elsewhere in the ballet world, The Australian Ballet hasn't had any in over a decade.

Dr. Sue Mayes, the company's principal physiotherapist since 1997 and director of the team, has developed a research-based approach that is now being emulated by other companies. In The Australian Ballet's state-of-the-art Melbourne health and fitness facility, she shared some of her best tips.

1. Work on Calf Endurance


In the early days of the company's medical program, Mayes and her team screened all the dancers to get a complete picture of their physical strengths and weaknesses.

"The only thing that seemed to have anything to do with injury was calf endurance," she says. The ballet staff agreed to incorporate a series of single-leg relevés in parallel into every class. Australian Ballet dancers do up to 24 on each side, often slowly, to music.

Soon afterwards, ankle impingement issues and calf tears became "less frequent and problematic," Mayes says. "Since we've brought this in, we haven't had to operate for posterior or anterior impingement at all, and that's a common surgery outside."


2. Limit Stretching and Foam Rolling


Passive stretching and endless foam rolling may feel good in the moment, but they may be preventing you from reaching your full potential. "Your body should be a spring, not a piece of floppy gum. If you spend the day rolling out every part of your body, you're depleting that spring," Mayes says.

Strengthening is much more effective in restoring power. "When we brought in calf strengthening, for instance, we took out calf stretches, which can increase your chance of getting a tear if you do it straight before jumping. We've seen only positive impact from that, and there has been no loss of range of movement."


3. Don' Ignore Cramping


Research and injury data led The Australian Ballet's team to realize that in the lead-up to a stress fracture, company members often complained of cramping in the feet. Overly tight pointe shoes can add to the problem.

"We educated dancers not to ignore it: Those muscles may be fatiguing and not supporting the bones well enough," Mayes says. She recommends dancers get cramping assessed immediately, as a modified workload for one to two weeks can be all it takes to avoid injury and get back to full strength.


4. Be Careful at Barre During Recovery


Mayes' PhD dissertation focused on the hip, and showed that MRI findings don't always correlate to symptoms. "People assume that a labral tear, for instance, is something that needs to be fixed through surgery," she says, "but they are as common in people without pain as they are in people with pain. Half the dancers had one." Swelling in the joint, however, can lead to pain, Mayes explains.

According to her, barre can aggravate hip injuries if dancers grip and tighten the muscles excessively. "The key to a recovering hip is to keep that flow and freedom of movement." Instead of dancers experiencing hip pain missing class altogether, Mayes and her team get them to do a free-flowing exercise program as a warm-up instead of barre before joining class for the center.


5. Strengthen the Smallest Feet Muscles


The Australian Ballet's team teaches a simple daily exercise to target the complex little foot muscles that allow dancers to absorb landings instead of overusing the joints. "The key thing about the foot muscles is that they give you that propulsion and spring through the toes, so you're not just landing with no strength," says Mayes.

  1. Sit on a chair with your knees and ankles bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Wrap a resistance band around your big toe without lifting the other toes up.
  3. Pull that toe down straight, hold it for 1–2 seconds, then slowly release.
  4. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Once you're used to the exercise, do the same with the little toe, and then with the second, third and fourth toes.


6. Empower Yourself With Information


Mayes, who is also an adjunct research fellow at La Trobe University, believes in educating dancers and giving them access to the latest evidence-based research. Every year, the artistic health team gets three hours with the company to give lectures and introduce the proper technique for exercises like relevés.

"Dancers are very smart people, and they love information," she says. "I'll give the exact same presentation to medical people at a conference and to the dancers, and they'll get it just as well, if not better, because they know their anatomy."





Hoe kunnen dansers het beste stretchen?

Elke danser wil een soepel, lenig lichaam en dansers proberen dan ook op alle mogelijke manieren leniger te worden. Zo ook door bijvoorbeeld met een niet opgewarmd lichaam in een koude studio op de grond te gaan liggen stretchen. Maar word je hier leniger van en is dit gezond? Vaak realiseren we ons niet dat sommige gewoontes in de dansstudio averechts werken op korte of lange termijn. We hebben het onze vroegere docent of mededansers zien doen en volgen het voorbeeld, maar soms is het goed om na te gaan of je gewoontes in stretchen wel gezond zijn en of het je prestaties verbetert.

Spieren rekken

Spieren kunnen rekken, veren en terugveren. Dansers willen het liefst dat hun spieren zo lang mogelijk worden, maar als er teveel getrokken wordt aan een spier kunnen er scheurtjes ontstaan. Stretchen van de spieren kan op twee manieren, namelijk passief en actief.

  • Passief stretchen

Spieren bestaan uit vezels. Deze vezels halen hun energie uit het bloed dat door je hart wordt rondgepompt. Tijdens het passief rekken worden de spiervezels lang en stroomt het bloed uit de spier. Na lang passief rekken voelt de spier vaak slap en niet meer zo sterk. Je bent dan wel lenig, maar niet sterk. Bij een statische ook wel passieve rek spannen je spieren zich niet aan en zijn ze in ontspannen staat.

Voorbeelden van een passieve stretch zijn de spagaat, de split en het met gestrekte benen voorover buigen om te proberen met de vingertoppen de grond aan te raken.

  • Actief stretchen

Als je actief rekt, maak je niet alleen de spier lang, je spant hem ook aan. Daarvoor moet de spier hard werken. Een actieve stretch zorgt er dus voor dat:

  1. er bloed naar de spier wordt gepompt
  2. de spier extra energie krijgt
  3. je sneller lenig wordt

De spier herstelt sneller en voelt minder slap dan bij een passieve stretch

Passief of actief rekken?

Met een actieve, ook wel dynamische stretch, maak je niet alleen de spier lang maar span je hem ook aan. Daarvoor moet de spier werken en wordt er bloed gepompt naar de spieren. Op die manier kan de spier sneller herstellen en voelt de spier minder slap dan na een passieve/statische rek.

Voorbeelden van een dynamische(actieve) stretch zijn de leg swing en arm swing en alle rekoefeningen waarin je jouw lichaam elke keer weer aanzet tot bewegen en je niet blijft ‘hangen’.

Welk moment van de dag stretch je?

Zoals je hierboven al leest is het dus het beste wanneer er bloed door je spier stroomt. Je kan dit bloed al goed laten doorstromen door bijvoorbeeld vijf minuutjes te rennen of een goede warming-up te doen.

Pas op voor krachtverlies!

Je wilt natuurlijk leniger worden om bijvoorbeeld de benen hoog in de lucht te kunnen houden. Het is dus belangrijk dat je tussen de keren dat je stretch ook rust inbouwt en dat je actief stretcht en niet passief zodat je aan zowel lenigheid als kracht werkt.

Kortom, het is dus niet verstandig om voor een warming up met een koud lichaam te gaan stretchen, en een dynamische(actieve) stretch is een absolute aanrader!