iPod Nanos and Aesthetic Explorations of Ailey/Horton Studies

One of the digital technologies I’ve been exploring with kids in my elementary school is the iPod nano. The convenient thing about the iPod nano is that it is very small and easy for me to carry back and forth to school, and it has lots of different functions that kids can learn to use. Another great feature for teachers is that when you order a nano, you can have it personalized with your name and your dance studio.

In this post, I’d like to share an example of how fourth grade dancers used the iPod nano to record duets, using the kaleidoscope mode.

I’m including below an outline of the lesson and a discussion of how digital technology helps students to direct their own thinking and learning about the aesthetics of dance and how this process can be specifically enhanced when using tools such as the iPod nano.

First, here is the final video:

Outline of Lesson

First Session

  • Students learn the following elements from the Horton Technique: Laterals, Primitive Squats, Flat Backs and Egyptian Arms.

Second Session

  • Students review elements from Horton Technique and use peer assessment after a review of criteria for each element with dance educator.
  • Discussion of how dance is passed from one generation to another, with historical background of the Lester Horton School and Mr. Ailey’s involvement with Mr. Horton.
  • Discussion of the importance of teachers and mentors and how dancer’s work is often influenced by those who have taught them.
  • Students Learn Egyptian Walks.

Third and Fourth Sessions

Dancers create duets, based on the elements they have learned, and using:

  • Mirroring technique
  • Reaching and Bending Movement
  • Scattering and Gathering
  • Turning
  • Beginning and ending in still shapes, reflecting Horton elements

Fifth and Sixth Sessions

  • Dancers practice, perform and videotape their dances, using iPod nano kaleidoscope mode
  • Discussion of how changing the digital recording mode changes the aesthetics of the dance
  • Speculating on the implications of the use of technology in the field of dance

Reflections and Benefits

Fourth graders are perfectly capable of handling the iPod nano. It is more suitable for these older students, who have more manual dexterity than K-2nd graders, who find the Flip Video Cameras easier to hold and operate.

The fourth grade dancers were very excited, enthusiastic and interested in the prospect of using the iPod nano kaleidoscope mode, so they worked quickly to give each other feedback (using Larry Lavender’s ORDER method of evaluation – see my first post), revise and perform their dances.

The digital cameras became a motivation for student-directed learning. They wanted to find out what their dances would look like when filmed in kaleidoscope mode.

Young dancers are capable of critical analysis. Use of kaleidoscope mode of filming encouraged and motivated them to discuss aesthetics and brought about some very reflective discussion of the difference between seeing dance live in the duet form, and seeing it altered in the filmed version.

Exposure to the role of technology in dance and connecting what is learned in school to what is happening in the outside world is important. Students recognized and discussed the role that technology played in the Superbowl Halftime Show and the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.

Written by Kisaac Isaac on March 3, 2010
Categorized in: Video
Tagged: , , ,

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