CDC Curriculum

Brain-Compatible Dance Education

The Creative Dance Center is a unique dance studio offering classes for infants through adults. Our classes are planned and presented using brain-compatible principles that make learning fun and enjoyable for all types of students. Our teachers use a five-part lesson plan. Students explore a variety of dance concepts throughout the semester by warming up with the BrainDance, exploring the concept, developing skills, creating, and cooling down. The five-part lesson plan alternates teacher-directed activities with student-centered activities, and developing skills with improvisation. This structure provides the repetition and novelty that engages all learners.

The teaching philosophy at CDC is a nationally and internationally recognized teaching methodology called Brain-Compatible Dance Education.

    •    BRAIN-COMPATIBLE DANCE EDUCATION:  A structured methodology for teaching dance using a lesson plan and strategies that create an environment in which the brain is ready, willing, and able to learn. This holistic approach develops every student into a whole dancer as skilled technician, critical thinker, collaborator, and creator.

    •    BRAINDANCE: A sequential and holistic exercise based on the developmental movement patterns infants move through during their first year and we continue refining throughout our lives. The BrainDance patterns are: Breath, Tactile, Core- Distal, Head-Tail, Upper-Lower, Body Side, Cross Lateral, Eye-Tracking, and Vestibular. The BrainDance integrates mind and body and may be adapted for all ages and abilities. At the Creative Dance Center the BrainDance is done, in many variations, as a warm-up in every class. The benefits for children and adults cycling through these patterns each week include reorganization of the neurological system, increased blood and oxygen flow to the respiratory system and brain, and enhanced body strength and alignment.

All the best educational programs around the world combine elements that stimulate both a child’s physical and mental development – for in truth there is no split between the two.
~Gordon Dryden, The Learning Revolution

Dance Class Includes:

WARMING-UP

2 mo-4 years BrainDance exercises performed to rhymes with the help of parents.
4-5 years Rhyming BrainDance exercises, ballet exercises such as pliés in 1st and 2nd position, and tendus are introduced to increase balance and enhance body alignment.
6-8 years Beginning dance technique is introduced through the BrainDance and more ballet/modern exercises are given for greater foot and ankle articulation. More jumps are added. There is a greater focus on strengthening stomach and back muscles and learning various swing patterns and balance exercises.
9+ years More time is spent on integrating technique into the BrainDance. The exercises become more complex, with greater in-depth teaching of the different muscle groups. Emphasis is also placed on increasing flexibility, understanding the core functions of the spine and pelvis in achieving correct alignment and body posture, and greater control and ease of movement.

EXPLORING THE CONCEPT

Each week a different movement concept is introduced and explored as the focus of the dance class. The semester's curriculum is posted on the Word Board.

2 mo-4 years The movement concepts are explored with the help of parents using props, songs, and imagery to increase learning.
4-5 years Movement concepts are explored individually through a creative problem solving approach. Props are sometimes used as an aid.
6-8 years This age group often works in pairs and trios to explore the weekly movement concepts. Props are sometimes used in the exploration.
9+ years Small and large groups are formed to explore the movement concepts after individual exploration has taken place.

Shapes and Relationships

2 mo-4 years Parents help their children to form shapes, reinforcing the weekly movement concepts (high/low, big/little, strong/light, etc.).
4-5 years Children learn to copy each other's shapes and to mirror moving shapes. Letters and numbers are explored through body shapes. Symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes are introduced.
6-8 years Students form shapes in pairs and trios, mold each other into shapes, and mirror and shadow each other's shapes.
9+ years At this level, students' explorations become more complex, including complementary and contrasting shapes, and larger group improvisations.

Instruments and Rhythm

2 mo-4 years Students explore instruments both while sitting and moving. Moving to music with varying meters and from other cultures increases rhythmic awareness.
4-5 years Moving and playing is the focus at this level. Children learn the names of the instruments and practice keeping a steady pulse to a variety of meters.
6-8 years Different tempi and rhythms are introduced. Students play as a group and also create their own patterns.
9+ years More complex rhythms are explored, such as mixed-meter, syncopation, and polyrhythms.

The dance is the mother of the arts. Music and poetry exist in time; painting and architecture in space. But the dance lives at once in time and space. 
~Curt Sachs

DEVELOPING SKILLS

Locomotor and Nonlocomotor Skill Development

2 mo-4 years Parents help children walk, run, jump, leap, gallop, slide, twist, bend, stretch, swing, melt, crawl, and roll. The focus at this level is on practicing gross motor skills while developing new ways of doing them, such as backward, faster, and bigger.
4-5 years Hops and skips are introduced while familiar movements are continuously explored in new ways dictated by the weekly movement concept (on different levels, in different directions, etc.).
6-8 years In addition to the above, fancy skips, step-hops, hinge slides, and chassés are learned and explored in new ways. Float, glide, flick, slash, and carve are also further explored.
9+ years Polka, schottische, ballet leaps and turns, and other complex movements are introduced. Familiar movements are done with a partner and changed or combined to become more challenging.

Combinations of Steps

2 mo-4 years Movements are put together to form a short phrase executed by parents and children. Simple circle dances are performed to develop flow and sequencing.
4-5 years Combinations of movement are performed within a simple time frame or rhythm.
6-8 years Longer combinations are learned. Students also create their own combinations and often work in pairs.
9+ years Complex combinations, performed in pairs and small groups focus on spatial and rhythmic patterns.

Leaps

2 mo-4 years Students move through obstacle courses to develop spatial awareness and balance.
4-5 years Objects are piled higher and wider to increase the range of motion used in leaping.
6-8 years Objects are placed to form different pathways. Emphasis is on changing the leaping leg in order to develop both sides of the body. Arm movements are introduced.
9+ years Variations in the shape, level, size, and speed of leaps are further explored.

CREATING

Improvisation or Choreography

2 mo-4 years Infants and toddlers engage in sensory motor activities. Parents and children improvise with props while reviewing the movement concept or play with a large parachute. A wide variety of music enhances creative expression.
4-5 years Students improvise to a variety of musical forms integrating the movement elements they have explored during the class. Sometimes they create their own simple compositions to perform for classmates.
6-8 years Students create their own compositions in partners and trios based on specific criteria given by the teacher. Students are introduced to performance and audience skills.
9+ years Students create their own solo dances and also work in small and large groups exploring specific forms (such as Narrative, Rondo, and Abstract). Sometimes the focus may be on props, poems, stories or music. Choreographic devices such as expansion, canon, accumulation, and transposition are explored.

COOLING DOWN

Relaxation and Reflection

2 mo-4 years Parents relax with their children. Focus is on the reduction of tension and stress. Teacher gives hand stamps to each student at the end of class.
4-5 years Students relax their muscles while the teacher works with each student on alignment. Teacher gives hand stamps to each student at the end of class.
6-8 years Relaxation techniques are learned by the students while flexibility and alignment are checked by the teacher. Students are encouraged to focus on their breathing. Students reflect on improvisation and composition through verbal responses.
9+ years Relaxation, stretching, and guided breathing are usually done at the end of class. Students reflect on and evaluate choreography through a variety of modes.