Drama and Dance
Dance in the Upper School introduces students to the genres of ballet, jazz, modern, and ethnic dance presented in cultural and historical context. Students learn vocabulary, principles and elements of each style. The focus of the class is on students’ development of kinesiological body awareness, technical facility, spatial expressiveness, and personal creativity. Evaluation of student progress is continual and is integrated into the daily learning process in the following ways: teacher critique, student self-assessment, and peer response.
Dance in the 6th and 7th grades consists of ballet, jazz, modern, and ethnic dance which are presented in their cultural and historical contexts. Vocabulary, principles and elements of each style are taught. Skills learned in Middle School dance classes are refined and reinforced in Upper School dance classes.
Fundamental dance skills and techniques as demonstrated by the teacher are practiced by students comparing their movements with those of their instructor. Warm-up (injury prevention) is emphasized. Barre and floor exercises are taught. Students memorize and perform short movement sequences to demonstrate technique and create phrases (patterns of dance sequences) in beginning improvisation and choreography. The concepts of personal space and shared performance space are explored with three exercises: individual demonstrations that utilize the studio along horizontal and diagonal lines, partner activities, and activities in which dancers cross paths. Exercises for building awareness of shared space combine students’ comprehension of personal space with an ability to anticipate and gauge the movements of others. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in the use of basic musical skills with a variety of accompaniment, tempo, and movement sequences at the conclusion of the year. Students are given the opportunity to perform in an informal and/or formal concert for peers, parents, and community.
Examination of the origins and development of each Dance genre accompanies students’ technical and creative work. Students review the research of dance historians and study trends, milestones, and figures in dance history. Regular attendance at dance performances is encouraged. The historical component of Dance includes examination of the broader cultural and historical contexts in which each genre exists.
Students evaluate themselves through the use of various elements. The teacher helps the class members learn evaluation techniques by analyzing their own movements aloud while teaching. Rules of etiquette are established to ensure that all students have equal opportunity to learn. Students are encouraged to keep a daily journal (both written and video) and are asked to describe a particular dance genre or explain the process of how to execute a particular step. Teacher evaluation of journals assists in understanding the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses in understanding subject matter.
At Oakwood, the thespian is embraced by every person in our community either as an enthusiastic member of the cast, support team or audience. Starting with the youngest student, drama is something to look forward to as the annual Pre-K and Kindergarten productions are a tradition and rite of passage.
In Middle and Upper School, the annual musical in late winter is one of the highlights of the Oakwood year. Students of all sorts find themselves curious and delighted to be a part of the production. From the athlete to the academic and the novice to the experienced actor, students find themselves excited to be on the bigger creative stage as the whole school comes together to enjoy and celebrate the efforts and talents of our students and the faculty supporting them.
With the success of our productions, an Upper School drama course is now being offered to expand the live education to a more complete study of the theatre.