Areas of Expertise and The Great Disconnect

This year I had the opportunity to talk to several professionals representing institutions with K-12 dance education programs. Within our conversations, the subject of technique came up and it was clear that the faculty teaching technique courses were only expected to teach within a single discipline; their “area of expertise”.

I casually asked if the faculty were ever allowed or encouraged to teach across disciplines- technically, conceptually, theoretically,…. I was usually met with a repeat that faculty tend to teach in their “area of expertise” which was defined by how they made their money dancing professionally.

Yet, their students will be expected to teach several disciplines. (As well as composition, history, theory,….)
Yet, very little of the dance I see being made these days is “pure” in style or approach.
Yet, the biggest cry of our society is that schools aren’t producing creative, thinking people.

What strikes me most about this is not even the “do as I say and not as I do” approach to curriculum planning but the narrowness by which these dancers must view their own field.  I think it is a little…..dated.

Maybe they aren’t watching the same dance I am- in terms of what is being made, who is making it, where it is presented, and who it serves.

I “get” why one would want to stick to what they know best when assuming a position of authority, as an educator does. Yet, why not model how to connect ideas, take risks, and think outside traditions. I know it feels messy from an administrative point of view. So what.

Is it because these programs are in “higher education” that they must have “specialized” conversations. Or is it because these college students will be teaching children that they may be less “specialized” in their own teaching. I am not suggesting that every dance educator serve as a generalist, but I think we could benefit from a having a few more.

Where is the value- the content or the learner?

Maybe I should ask where is the bias- the content or the learner?

I suppose that is the other piece that feels dated to me: I am the educator- come to meet me. Heaven forbid we meet the learner’s needs.

What if making connections IS the area of expertise?

Sometimes the arts aren’t very creative.

What are we going to do about it?