Inquiry based learning in dance- guest blog by Sumit Raghav

Inquiry-based learning is a method of instruction that allows students to explore, ask questions and find their own answers. This learning style contrasts more traditional forms of teaching whereby teachers dictate what is to be learned and provide direct guidance on how to do so.
This post will detail why we think inquiry-based learning has many benefits over other methods and give examples of inquiry-based lessons. It will also highlight some practical strategies for implementing inquiry-based learning into your dance lesson planning.


Dance should be used as an active way for learners to express themselves, not just as an aesthetic form.

Dance is more than just a craft. It is a powerful form of expression, touching our emotions and evoking strong reactions.

Dance can be a stimulating educational tool because it allows students to explore topics in any manner they can imagine.
The body’s ability to articulate thoughts, feelings, and ideas through movement makes dance an ideal tool for exploring abstract concepts such as time, space, movement, and music. It also encourages observation skills as students attempt to translate their observations into movement.

Why use inquiry?

Inquiry-based learning can be used to frame dance lessons that pose questions that address issues ranging from global concerns such as history & culture to personal growth issues such as self-esteem or body image. This approach allows students to fully explore a topic and articulate their findings in any way they wish.

Dance and inquiry-based Learning:

Inquiry is a broad concept that encompasses a range of learning activities, from the most basic form of questioning (“Why are you standing like that?”) to scientific inquiry, mathematical reasoning, and critical thinking. For our purpose here, we will define inquiry as a structured process in which students use questions, observations and ideas to develop an understanding of fundamental concepts or issues. In dance education, inquiry can be used as an introduction or summary at the end of each lesson or unit study. It can also be part of your curriculum throughout every lesson during the semester.
Inquiry is interdisciplinary and cross-curricular, which means that it applies to any subject area. Researchers have found that students who are asked to think about issues in their own lives experience increased motivation, engagement, and learning. Asking students questions helps them to consider complex and abstract concepts in the context of their lives. When students are asked questions, they are encouraged to synthesise what they have learned into real world applications. This process creates a strong foundation for deeper learning as students learn how ask questions about a topic, reflect on their initial answers, try again with different perspectives, question the process itself and so on.

Creating a routine using formation and movement learnt in class.

Inquiry-based learning for dance lessons in PYP classrooms-

  1. In-class inquiry based learning – for students at the beginner level.
    You can also ask students to write a short inquiry with a question. This will get students thinking about what they are doing and how to do it better. Students can then answer that question by writing a response.
  2. Quizzes – give students a chance to try things. Again, the idea is to teach students how things work and put them in a situation where they can practice.
  3. Classroom-wide inquiry based learning – this is what a student would get if they participate in the class by answering a set of questions. So if a dance teacher were to set up an inquiry based project in her dance class, it could look something like this:

    1) A dance student has been invited to a performance.
    2) They enter the room and see that the dance studio is filled with people dancing. They also see a banner with the title ‘Dance’ on it. The facilitator may say, “It’s time for a class project. I’d like you to be the first to answer a series of yes or no questions about the steps in your dance routine. Can you think of any other questions?”
    3) The class then decides to take part in an investigation.
    4) After the investigation is completed, the students are expected to complete a quiz.
    5) Students are then given a grade for their quiz, with one being a high mark and the other a low mark.
    6) If the student did not receive a ‘high’ mark for his quiz, he/she would be asked to repeat the question and be given another chance.
  4. Involving students in their own dance exploration – when students participate to their fullest. They are not just passive participants in a class. We need to make them feel like they are involved in every part of that class as much as possible. – From an inquiry perspective, a more in-depth exploration of dance steps and movements is required.
  5. Gain self-confidence and build self-worth-
    Self-confidence is a critical skill that can be developed in a class setting. Self-worth is something that you will learn as part of class and that is an essential part of the dance learning process.

Making tasks interesting


The critical takeaway in inquiry-based learning is that the student takes the lead.

This encourages passion and interest and makes even the most mundane subjects more memorable and exciting to the learner. But the real genius is questioning, asking, and answering the questions. 

In fact, the students are the ones who are constantly engaged in asking questions to their teachers. A few key points are-

  • Inform the students about the research. 
  • Establish a dialogue between the teacher and the class. 
  • Encourage students to communicate with their peers. 
  • Teach students how to use their skills in a real-world context. 
  • Demonstrate the relevance of what is being taught to students. 
  • Give the room a context that will make the learning activity meaningful to them. 
  • Set the tone of the classroom by introducing it with appropriate colours, sounds, movements, etc. 
  • Provide a variety of learning styles. 
  • Make the task interesting. 
  • Allow students the space to be creative.

Sumit Raghav is a professional dancer and dance teacher based in Gurgaon, India. He has been dancing since the age of 18 and has been teaching dance for over 15 years. He has competed in numerous dance competitions and has won many awards. He specializes in jazz and hip hop dancing and has choreographed for several events. He has also performed on stage with the Kingdom of Dreams (Jhumroo) and Wizcraft, and was acknowledged as the best performer. Sumit is a very passionate and dedicated dance teacher and is always looking for new and innovative ways to teach his students. He believes in being approachable, which makes his students feel comfortable and motivated in his class.



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