What Does a Dance Education Grad Student Actually Do All Day?

Let’s play a game:

Guess which one of these is a typical Monday for a dance education graduate student:

img_0358a) Get up at 6 am and immediately put on your tutu. Walk with your nose in the air to the studio where you train in ballet all day and abstain from food. Go home and ice your feet. Read Misty Copeland’s memoir, because this is skool.

b) You can dance in graduate school? What’s dance education?

In my experience, these are usually the two perceptions of what dance in grad school looks like. Either training or general confusion. And that’s ok! I’m here to set the record straight.

Since it’s pretty far from the truth, I thought I would clear a few things up by describing my own past Monday as a Grad Student at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at NYU.
(I can’t attest to what everyone does outside of class, so I’m only covering what goes on in the classroom)

Learn more about the NYU experience:

My first class is working towards producing a concert next fall and our curriculum covers the many diverse aspects of what that entails. However, this past Monday we had a special shared class with guest dancers and teachers from Mukugawa Womam’s University in Japan. Together we took a warm-up class with Deborah Damast, then worked in groups to create choreography exploring various themes as a way of understanding communication through both dance and as people working with others.

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My teammates- MIshi and Rishi

My teammates- MIshi and Rishi

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Next is research, where we learn methods to structure research practices, analyze readings, and set up our own studies of interest. This past class we covered a variety of qualitiative research methods, including the effect of categorizing subjects. This was practiced with candy, because my teacher is awesome and understands how much we all need sugar.

Third is Jazz Dance Pedagogy where we delve into the often-overlooked history of jazz dance and music stemming from African roots, the slave trade, plantation dances, minstrel shows, and more than you ever thought influenced one specific type of dance. We listen to presentations from classmates, dance together,discuss the effect of culture and society on history and dance, and how all of this can be incorporated into and influences successful jazz dance teaching. Last Monday, we learned about Animal Dances such as the Turkey Trot and the Pigeon Wing- both how to do them, and how cultural factors such as European values of verticality and the fear of sensuality influenced their original form.

If I were to sum it up in a few words, my past Monday would look like this:
Cultural Choreography, Research Candy, Turkey Jazz History

Or more aptly, I would just call it fantastic. Knowledge is Power.

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2 thoughts on “What Does a Dance Education Grad Student Actually Do All Day?

  1. Pingback: Behind the Scenes at Radio City Music Hall | BODIES NEVER LIE

  2. Pingback: 5 Words to Change How You Think About Discipline: A letter from a director | BODIES NEVER LIE

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