In the Middle Year Programme, our aim is to inspire young learner’s imaginations through the arts, challenge perceptions, and expand creative and analytical skills. Dance within the MYP framework is envisaged as an artistic, aesthetic, cultural, and physical subject. Through the unit ‘Evolution of dance to connect, express and heal’, the students experienced the concept and art of dance photography. Using the global context of personal and cultural expression and aligning it with the related concept of interpretation, the unit created numerous possibilities and prospects for students to find their creative voice and choice.
Students inquired into the evocative genre of dance photography. They observed its use in dance theatres and production houses during the phase of research and development. It was used to weave the choreographer’s artistic ideas together, thereby creating visuals to decipher their musings about the concept they aimed to portray. Finally, students reflected on dance photography as a precursor or an experiment in dance labs to ideate and visualize their final dance performance or product.
As part of their portfolio creation, students were creating their final dance performances. To help them understand the practicalities and possibilities of their ideas, dance photography was introduced as a learning experience. Little did they know that it had formed an interface for them to bring out their genuine attributes as IB learners.
The journey of producing dance photographs was steeped in the process of inquiry. An inquiry-based methodology helped learners to discover more possibilities, themes, and costume choices that they could employ in their final creation. The subjects that surfaced from the photography project included identity crisis, saving wetlands, preventing animal cruelty, sustainability, equal education for all, preventing discrimination, embracing emotional well-being, among others. Using the Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills helped the IB learners construct, connect, and reflect on their dance photography ventures. The inquirers used their research skills to assemble more data about their concepts and themes. Their critical thinking skills helped them to generate ideas and peruse possibilities of how to exhibit their dance photographs.
The dance photography project was an excellent formative assessment tool. It was authentic, interactive, collaborative, varied, developmental, and had opportunities to get feedback and feedforward. In addition, it helped the teacher and the learner analyze, monitor, and document the practicalities and challenges that arose while creating the final portfolio.
The final performance displayed inter-disciplinary connections. The students found ways to use the concepts they learned in their language subjects such as metaphors, monologues, poems, and similes. Themes from ‘Individuals & Societies’ and the knowledge of global warming were taken from science. Each of these concepts was expressed and portrayed through the medium of dance.
“The dance photographs helped me analyze the choice of costumes, emotions, and postures I was planning to create. It gave a structure to my final performance,” said Mehrangaiz Nessar, a student who addressed environmental degradation and pollution through her dance photography project while connecting with Stephen R Covey (CEO of Plastic bank). Dance flows like a river, finding possibilities and avenues to reach an ocean of creativity.
Vaishak M Raj is a dance facilitator and has been working in the performing arts department at DPS International, Gurgaon. He engages both the MYP and PYP students to develop their artistic voice and choice. He has been the creative head for the British Council’s project ‘Imperfect Circle’ and has also won numerous scholarships and grants towards his meritorious services in dance.