דלג לתוכן המרכזי
050-8264905‬

Curriculum

 

Introduction

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Informal education is run by the municipal and national community centers and by private institutions, which offer enrichment classes in a variety of fields, especially sports and the arts. This enables serious instruction of children who are interested in developing these areas. However, since the subjects are handled in a most superficial manner in school, if at all, the possibility of choosing a good informal school, free of the constraints of the formal education system, raises the level of learning and the chances of attaining some level of achievement via these informal frameworks.

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Since these community centers are economic organizations and expected to be profitable, their curriculum is not always structured according to the real needs for learning the material. The leading concept is frequently to attract more children to register, and, due to competition between the class operators, the curriculum contents are shallow. Large institutions, supported by government budgets, can allow themselves a good curriculum, but one should also demand this of smaller, independent frameworks.

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Supervision of dance in Israel is mainly combined with the curricula of formal schooling. Community centers and private dance schools are not under any supervision, and the level of teaching there varies from excellent to disastrous. In order to reduce the cost of employing teachers, the best, most skilled teachers are not always hired, which may result in real, irreversible physical and emotional damage to the children who wish to dance, since the parents also have no means of knowing what is good and what is not good.

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This paper will offer a proposal for a curriculum for artistic dance, which allows every child, without limitation of physical or cognitive ability and natural talent, to learn dance techniques and creativity in dance. The curriculum presented here is a core curriculum, backed by research that deals with physiology, psychology, developmental psychology and the psychology of learning and can be applied in an urban, national or private framework.

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Chapter 1 offers brief information on curricula in general and their significance, as well as discussing the contribution of art and, in particular, dance arts to young children, educated towards adult life.

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Chapter 2 surveys child development from the anatomical, kinesiological and psychological aspects, adapting the study material to the pupils’ ability. Chapter 3 continues to a discussion of the different organizational factors that should be considered when preparing a curriculum, such as the target population, the place where the activity takes place and the administration which decides the order of activities.

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Chapter 4 considers the syllabus’ practical aspects: the staff, the conditions of operation, the core program for all the age groups and the division into groups. The chapter also proposes a general outline for a school for the dance arts, detailing the names of groups and their significance.

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Chapter 5 presents the specific curriculum for each age group, detailing the names of the exercises that should be taught at each stage of development. This curriculum has no suggestions for specific exercise structure, but rather the individual elements that should be taught at each age. The detailed curriculum concludes with a program for general activities, which contribute to the experiential enrichment of the regular studies.

 

Chapter 1

The Curricula and the Arts

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1.1 What do the curricula include?

Knowledge, whether as a goal, whether as a means of achieving other goals, is the main concern of schools. School is unique in its involvement with education, the cultural substance and the intellectual and psychological experiences that accompany it. The pupils’ other experiences during their years of schooling will parallel this process, and may even be secondary to it. The systematic, structured outline of experimentation that the teachers prepare for themselves and for the pupils is, in fact, the curriculum. A suitable curriculum will expand the pupils’ world, knowledge and thought and open up new possibilities. An unsuitable program will limit all these, and block the pupils’ development (Sherman, 1993).

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The curriculum is the systematic continuum along which the young person progresses in his/her school education. It presents the methods of teaching all the material, at a specific level of detail, for the teacher and pupil alike (Sherman, 1993). The curriculum presented in this study offers a specific system for learning classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and dance improvisation, and describes the continuum of the syllabus for the various ages.

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1.2 The new curricula – principles and processes

Eden (undated), in his article, refers to the need to design curricula according to research on the psychology of learning. Because of the development of the sciences, the planning materials should be selected and focus on learning the principles and their use instead of learning the details of the discipline studied.  The principles will help the pupil acquire a method of learning using critical thought (Eden).

This approach is also correct for dance. Since studying dance today is open to all children despite their differing physical and emotional make-up, they must understand the principles of the technique and apply them according to individual characteristics, using critical thought.

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One of the ways of arousing motivation amongst children is to reward them with encouragement for their success with the material. At the same time, it is clear that natural interest in the material studied increases the chances for success.  Different methods of teaching, helps and influences the pupils to varying degrees (Eden). The curriculum of the dance school must refer to these issues and include them.

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1.3 What is the contribution of art education in general and dance in particular?

In his article, Eisner refers to all the arts, including music, visual arts, dance and theater and discusses the aspect that furthers the study of the various arts in a school framework. There is evidence of teachers and educators that academic achievement improves amongst pupils who study arts. Improvement – that grades improved as a result of participating in an arts lesson, rather than their grade in arts. Research on the subject did not verify this hypothesis (Eisner, 1998).

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On the other hand, the leanings that the arts, including dance, nurture, are undoubtedly rooted in the art itself due to:

1. The ability to visualize invisible possibilities.

2.      Dealing with ambiguity while searching for different solutions.

3. The ability to accept a variety of solutions as acceptable possibilities.

4. Self-expression.

5. Sublimation.

6. Self-image.

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We must be careful to avoid studying the arts at too fast a pace. Eisner (1998) writes, “It is sometimes preferable not to give clients what they want, but rather help them to understand what they should want...I am sure that this is part of our professional vocation” (Eisner, 1998).

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Studying artistic dance, as part of a person’s education, is the epitome of the artistic experience. Dance includes music, movement, theater and even sculpture, thus its teaching should include technique and self-expression.

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The “Zero Project” started by Harvard University, is associated with Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Its approach to studying the various disciplines of the arts at a young age (younger than the age of ten) recommends that activity be the focus of artistic involvement. 

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History, criticism and other art-associated activities will be identified with the child’s product. The teachers must have the ability to think in terms of the artistic medium studied, and not only present the subject logically. It is therefore important for dance teachers to have creative experience.

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Significant projects based around the studies should assure completed products and receipt of feedback, which will afford the opportunity to discuss the results and allow for reflection on the learning process. Studies should be gradual and progressive to allow reaction to the feedback. This encourages developing skills through which it is possible to better understand what readiness for work is. Swift study of “everything together” should not be encouraged (Gardner, 1993). For this reason performances must be included in the curriculum in which all the pupils participate voluntarily and in which their creativity will find expression.

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1.4.Bodymindl

Dance is a distinct area in which people nurture their bodies and their physical expression, which has a direct and immediate affect on the emotions. People do not have a body and/or a mind but both, together, constantly. They are interdependent and function together.

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The elements affecting the body and mind:

1. Heredity – the physical and emotional make-up, transferred genetically by the parents.

2.  Physical activity – all the physical activities the body performs such as exercise, sleep, giving birth, playing a musical instrument, riding a horse and all the things that people do anywhere. This activity is reflected in the bones, in the muscle tone and in our nervous coordination. The development of body and depends on what we do, how it is done, and what we feel when doing it. Proper, balanced, enjoyable physical activity allows healthy development, full of vitality.

3. Psychological activity – the mental and emotional condition is expressed in physical symptoms. Every feeling and thought finds physical expression.

4. Environmental conditions – these are the conditions in which we live from the moment of our birth. They affect us but can be changed at any stage in life; they are thus dynamic and their impact on us can vary.

5. Nutrition – Dichtwald (1992) relates to physical and psychological nutrition as one and the same, viewing them as the foundations necessary for growth, renewal and strengthening man.

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These factors, despite being detailed separately are not separate, but rather one unit that affects functioning, continuous development and physical shape, reflecting our inner body (Dychtwald, 1992). Studying dance in the proper framework will assure correct, healthy development, while an unsuitable curriculum will cause damage to the body and mindl.

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1.5 The connection between self-image and functioning in school

According to Rekanati (1997) 16% of 9th. and 10th. grade pupils were worried about their physical appearance and 19% worried about their physical fitness. The physical self-image affects the social condition, which, in turn, affects the pupils’ behavior and functioning in school, and thus school achievement as well. Similarly, the lack of consideration by the system of any difference between children is responsible for the failure of many. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences facilitates planning learning while offering equal opportunities. This implies affording opportunities for nurturing natural intelligence that varies from person to person (Rekanati, 1997). Kinesthetic/physical intelligence is connected to dance, the subject of this paper, and is one of Gardner’s seven intelligences. Dancing contributes to physical prowess and to the self- image of those practicing it.

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1.6 Improving ability: theory and practice

A person’s independent education is an extremely active part of his/her life. With the development of a child two poles will form along which the self-image will grow. At the one pole personality, and at the other, the compulsory education which adults determine for them. Factors involved in human development include heredity, education and self-education, of which only the last will be under the individual’s control to any extent.

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The conflict created by contradictory functional structures will find physical expression in breathing disturbances, digestive disturbances, incorrect posture and the skeletal movements. The average person, according to Feldenkreis (1967), will try to help himself somehow. Lessons in movement will improve mobility and the energy flow will be released (Feldenkreis, 1967).

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Children, youth and even adults are usually disinterested in lessons in movement according to the Feldenkreis method. But if we adopt his approach and manage to integrate it in the study of dance, we will be able to prevent the physical phenomena that are liable to appear as the result of conflicts he describes in his book.

 

Chapter 2

How does the Child Develop from the Motor and Psychological Aspects

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2.1 Motor development

Dance is an area of motor importance of the first degree, which should be thoroughly understood and born in mind when preparing a curriculum as well as during the lessons themselves.

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The term motor encompasses five basic parameters:

1. Motor education, i.e., learning and practicing new skills, beyond daily functional movement.

2.  Motor ability, i.e., a description of a specific person’s natural ability to move. Although most motor ability is hereditary, it can be improved by practice and learning. The motor ability is comprised of balance, coordination, speed of movement, kinesthetic and so on.

3.  Motor skill, i.e., the ability to successfully perform defined tasks with specific   criteria. Skill is acquired by learning and practice.

4.  Motor prowess, heart-lungs endurance, strength, reaction time, balance and exactitude of movement.

5.  Motor capacity, i.e., the natural talent, the maximum inborn talent, usually not maximized. But if practiced and studied one can realize natural talent.

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Motor ability includes psychomotor ability, which is the ability to think while performing an activity. Developing this ability at an early stage of child development will assure the improvement of motor functioning in the future (Lidor, 1994).

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2.2 Anatomy and kinesiology in dance

When choosing teachers one must make sure that their knowledge includes anatomy and kinesiology. Every movement and posture in dance, especially in classical technique, has a particular arrangement of limbs. The rotation of the knees while placing the feet together in basic positions such as first, third and fifth, must be practiced by the dancer, who must be in control of certain sets of muscles. Groups of muscles that usually function without much effort, must work harder in ballet, and with practice they will be strengthened. The ligaments, bones and muscles are also endangered if the demands of the technique are performed without considering the pupil’s anatomy and ability.

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Movements performed with the legs close together, heels touching and rotating the hips, demands specific consideration, practice and effort. One must assure that the pelvic girdle does not tilt as a result, thereby lowering the loradosa. Dropped arches will negate the skeletal ability to absorb shock and cause wear on many systems. Attention should be paid to prevent this. Knee exercises should be practiced without falling and sinking to the ground which will cause wear on the cartilage (Heiman, 1998/9). Correct practice of dance technique organizes posture correctly and improves physical awareness. Bad practice, which does not consider personal anatomy, will cause serious damage.

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2.3 Child and adolescent psychiatry (5-11 year-olds)

Without knowledge and discerning the stages of a child’s psychological development, we are likely to cause psychological damage and an incorrect self-perception with regard to the child’s motor ability and the person he/she will become.

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The development of 4-6 year-olds, kindergarten-aged children

At this age children transfer to educational frameworks in which there are rules that apply to all. The threshold of expectations of their cognitive ability and social functioning increases gradually every year. The children grow considerably and the central nervous system develops. By the age of 5, 90% of the system’s tissues are already mature. From the motor aspect, children of this age are sufficiently developed to perform movements that demand complicated skills of balance, such as standing on one foot for a period of time or riding a bicycle. They start to distinguish between left and right, although they still muddle them.

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According to Paiget (1983) 4-6 year-old children can concentrate for periods of 30 minutes. By the age of five, they are already interested in completing work started; they are friendly, competitive and egocentric. Understanding the structure of the language and its rules continues to develop. From the age of 6, children are capable of performing complicated daily life skills. Between the ages of 6-7 they distinguish between right and left, and between 8-9 years of age will distinguish between right and left when viewed in reverse. The sense of feel, which is located in the nervous system, reaches 90% maturity.

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Development of 7-11 year olds

This age is defined as the latency period, during which the central nervous system develops faster among females than among males. This can usually be observed in their improved artistic talents, awareness of new situations, verbal skills, the ability to define differences, schematization, greater caution, and conformity. The need for sexual release is small amongst both genders who invest time in games and sports. Children who are properly developed at this age have good imagination and can sublimate, while good coordination and swift reactions to stimuli begin to develop (Tiano, 1999).

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2.4 Developmental psychology and the connection to the trainer’s work (in sport)

As in sports or dance, to learn certain skills one must have reached a suitable level of maturity. Physiological changes cause behavioral changes, which are also affected by maturity, learning and motor development. Development of thought, according to Piaget, comes in stages. The age of 7-12 is the third stage, the stage of concrete operations, when children can draw conclusions based on the use of tools of logical thought. Reality is concrete and they cannot visualize theoretical possibilities. Every trainer and teacher of dance must be able to identify each pupil’s level of maturity (Sadeh, 1995).

 

Chapter 3

The Factors to be Considered when Planning Dance Lessons

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3.1 The target population

The target population of the art of dance in complementary education is children (usually girls) who feel the desire to move and dance to the sounds of music. Girls who wish to be like characters in television programs usually choose to study in extra-curricular lessons after school hours. Some dream of being ballet dancers, in rare cases even attending a live professional ballet performance. But most of the pupils are young 5-6 year old girls, whose parents decide for them that it is worth them developing their natural ability to dance, and develop their bodies and their movements.

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In many cases at this age, the children start learning as a result of a parental decision (Feldenkreis, 1967), while the decision to continue with, or cease, classes is up to the child at the end of the first year. Some will study the discipline for the sake of learning it (Sherman, 1993), dancing from love and appreciation of the movements and contents. Others will study dance as a means to achieve another goal: correct posture, helping the body develop, learning flowing movements and orthopedic improvement of particular parts of the body which are weak or distorted (Sherman, 1993).

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Parents frequently come with the demand or request to provide their children with study materials that are unsuitable for their chronological age and level of development. The children also hope to quickly be like their revered models. In such cases it is important to gently, but clearly, explain the principles that guide the teachers in their decisions. Professional considerations (or those of the administration) should prevent teachers giving in to the clients’ demands. They should rather try to inform them as to what they should demand. “Sometimes it is preferable not to give the clients what they want, but to help them understand what they are likely to want… I am sure this is part of our professional task” (Eisner, 1998).

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One should bear in mind that there will be clients who are not satisfied with these decisions, and terminate their children’s participation in the class. Although the financial loss is painful, professional honesty is of greater concern and more worthwhile in the long run. The curriculum is only for the children’s benefit. Every child who ceases studying dance arts at any stage in their lives, should remember them with longing for something they liked doing and which contributed to their lives (see questionnaires in the appendix). A positive contribution to their lives, to their physical image, to their fitness and motor ability also affects the behavior of the adolescent in school (Recanati, 1997).

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3.2. Constraints that should be considered when planning a curriculum

1.The decision of the community center administration regarding the validity of operating a small group. The administration may decide not to open a group which made considerable progress but in which there were only five pupils.

2. The decision of the community center administration regarding the number of weekly hours allocated to each group.

3. The decision of the community center administration regarding the number of days the group will function.

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3.3 Acceptance to the group

Acceptance to the group is not dependent on any type of examination. The purpose is to allow anyone interested to learn dance, in the belief that everyone can develop in this field as they can in other areas of learning.  The starting point will vary between children in the same group and the rate of development will also differ, in particular with regard to the level of physical ability. The understanding of the principles of discipline will be similar since the groups are divided according to age, each with its own characteristics of psychological and motor development (Lidor, 1994; Tiano, 1999; Sadeh, 1995).

 

Chapter 4

The Curriculum

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Following the description of the theoretical aspects pertinent to the curriculum and to dance as an artistic occupation for children from the age of 5 years till adolescence, I will now present the actual curriculum based on the approach that considers intellectual and psychological involvement in learning (Sherman, 1993). This curriculum for dance arts affords learning through understanding the principles of the various styles. Learning the principles of the discipline, supported by the details of the material studied, helps the pupils acquire a learning system using independent, critical thought (Eden, undated), and intensifies the intellectual occupation with dance.

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The curriculum is also suitable for research on cognitive development according to the pupils’ age as well as the psychology of learning. This is also true of the physiological aspects of child development. Research that combines the study of the body with the study of the soul in a generalized and integrated manner reinforces the approach that artistic dance contributes to the children’s development and even to their future as adults.

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The curriculum is a core curriculum, detailing the most basic study material, suitable to all age groups. At a later stage, when the ability to understand and apply the material is more developed, the teacher will be able to introduce changes and combinations gradually, as the pupils will continue to apply the principles learned while developing and altering the exercises.

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The proposed curriculum is relevant to a system in which lessons are held four times a week for 3-4½ hours each day.  Operating a particularly small group is possible according to suitable professional considerations.

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4.1 The teaching staff

The teaching staff will include teachers with experience in dance, choreography and production. A teacher thoroughly familiar with classical dance will teach that subject, while a suitable teacher should be found for the creative aspect, who understands creative development, open to all styles and levels of personal ability. Modern dance and jazz should be studied under a teacher who has a broad view of modern dance.

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4.2 Practical considerations

Lessons should be held in a hall, preferably square, 90 m. by 100 m., with a high ceiling. There should be windows that open to the fresh air, a bar at a suitable height along the wall and a flexible, but not soft, floor to absorb shock. There should be a mirror in one specific area which should not be overused. These basic conditions are frequently lacking, which does not prevent organizations offering lessons. I believe it is important to provide proper activities, even if these conditions are absent and even though this detracts from the full experience.

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4.3 The core curriculum

The classical ballet core curriculum will include studying the following principles:

1. Four basic rules: a. The shoulders and pelvic girdle will always be parallel and  facing forwards.

 b.The thigh joints will always have maximum outward turnout of the legs.

 c. The back is continuously extended and expanded, the    head raised and moving freely above the spine.

 d. The foot will stretch to point, whenever there is no weight on it. (Moreover, it is forbidden to place any weight on the foot in the point position except for when working with blocked shoes).

2.  The rules of substituting feet.

3.  The positions of the arms and the head are coordinated with the legs.

4.  The various weight transfers.

5.  The position of the limbs relative to each other.

6.  The direction of the body in space.

7.  The direction of movement in the area available while moving.

8.  Coordination: coordinating moving and stopping, bending and straightening, between the different parts of the body and the transition between them.

9.   Timing the legs when performing quick jumps.

10. Musicality: the length of the movement, the validity of the movement and its quality at a given tempo.

11. A feeling of uniformity in the body movements.

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4.4 Division into groups according to age

Girls aged 4-5 years of age can be in the same group, but if registration is heavy they should, if possible, be divided into groups according to kindergarten and 1st. grade pupils to assure small groups of no more than 12 pupils.

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7-8 year old children can study the same material, but it should be adapted to the lower age group. At this age they learn the same classical material, thus 3rd. grade pupils who did not study dance in the 2nd grade will be included in this group to learn the basics. The group will include no more than 20 pupils.

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8-9 year old girls (in 3rd. and 4th. grades), who studied the basics the previous year, will be in one group. At this age the differences are greater between girls with natural talent and those whose natural dance skills are limited. The body’s strength increases very quickly, motor ability improving through study and exercise (Lidor, 1994), thus it is possible to transfer the better and more talented 4th. grade girls to a 5th. grade, more advanced group.

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9 and 10-year olds (in 4th. and 5th. grade) can be divided at this age into those with particular high motor and psychomotor ability and those with regular ability. Such a division should be done with the utmost sensitivity to avoid upsetting the children. At the same time, those who can should be allowed to progress more at this important stage of biological development, the development of the central nervous system and the development of the imagination (Tiano, 1999).  Those with special potential and desire to progress will thus be able to so do in a manner that will allow them to realize their desire to be dancers.

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Girls aged 11 and older (from 6th. grade and above) can be divided according to levels of performance. At this age the central nervous system is developed; the pupils have full understanding of the foundations of the discipline and all that remains is for them to learn additional patterns, new combinations, vary materials, strengthen their bodies and continue caring for them as they rapidly approach physical maturity.

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The creative aspect of this age already reaches preliminary understanding of the artistic processes for choreographic creations. The pupils are capable of imagining the entire work, and of planning a dance that considers the stage space available and the participants’ different roles. At the same time, there is a clear differentiation between the pupils’ levels of creativity. Some are full of ideas and solutions while others prefer not to participate in the choreographic decisions.

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4.5 The curriculum for all the groups

Sunday

Monday

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Wednesday

Thursday

The Killian group

Classical ballet (70 minutes)

The Petitpas group

Classical ballet

(50 minutes)

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The Petrushka group

          1

(45 minutes)

The Isadora group

Classical ballet

(60 minutes)

The Killian group

Modern/jazz/

creative

(75 minutes)

The Petrushka group

          2

(50 minutes)

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The Petitpas group

Modern/jazz/creative

(50 minutes)

The Killian group

Classical ballet

(75 minutes)

The Isadora group

Modern/Jazz/

creative

(60 minutes

The Cabriole group

Classical ballet

(90 minutes)

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The Cabriole group

Modern/jazz

(50 minutes)

The Cabriole group

Classical ballet

(75 minutes)

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The Cabriole group

Creative workshop

(75 minutes)

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Key to the names of the groups:

The Petrushka group: 5-6 year olds.

The Petitpas group: 7-8 year olds.

The Isadora group: 8-9 year olds.

The Killian group: 9-11 year olds.

The Cabriole group: 11 year olds (and up to age 14, according to their level of    knowledge).

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The significance of the names of the groups

As part of the approach that claims dance should be taught from a broad perspective, that also includes history (Gardner, 1993), I suggest naming the groups after musicians, pieces and characters from the history of dance. The name of each group should be explained to the participants of that group, which activity can, and should, be expanded by watching a video film about Petitpas, watching the ballet Petrushka, studying the importance of the subject from different aspects, learning about Isadora Duncan and experimenting with different styles as well as watching work by Killian and so on.

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Another advantage of naming groups is blurring their categorization on an age basis or according to ‘level’. This is another attempt (that does not always work) to avoid the feeling of superiority or inferiority of one group compared to others.

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4.6 Detail of the specific curriculum for each age group

5-6 year olds (kindergarten and 1st. grade)

The lessons last 45 minutes, of which the first 10 minutes are spent on structured exercises intended to inculcate habits of warm up as well as to lengthen the muscles and ligaments. No results or exactitude of movement are demanded. Thereafter the pupils will study such basic concepts as space, time, the limbs and the quality of movement, through experimentation and individual movement selected from the teacher’s suggestions. Teaching methods should be varied using such equipment as balloons, flags, hoops, newspapers, strips of material and so on. Simple terms are employed at this age which are well understood by all the pupils, such as open, closed, high, low, fast, slow, straight, crooked, and using different parts of the body. One can, and should, offer suggestions for characters from the children’s world. This part lasts about 30 minutes, approximately the attention span of children at this age.

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Once a year, a lesson will be held together with the parents, in which the latter take an active part and study with the children. No observers or parental substitutes, such as an older brother, are allowed in this lesson (unless for a special reason), in which terms of relativity are taught such as before, after, above, below, in, out, by, to the right, to the left and so on. Understanding these concepts is extremely important in future life.

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The material can be expanded for 6 year olds by adding different concepts of quality such as soft, heavy, hard, light, airy, and combining them with other aspects such as a soft, airy movement, or, at a later stage, performing on a straight or crooked course. Every combination of more than 2 elements demands concentration and high psychomotor ability, which improves future motor functioning (Lidor, 1994). One can also begin studying basic concepts of technique, such as plié, point, flex, gallop, as well as the first and second positions in the simplest manner. Exact implementation should not be expected, since the stage of maturity for such is still not ripe (Sadeh, 1995).

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The material learned the previous year is repeated to enable more mature and complex study, and to enable the pupils who did not study ballet the previous year to learn the material. Freedom of creativity, limited to a specific subject, deepens understanding of that topic, and expands the repertoire of the material studied. Real artistic work develops inventiveness and the ability to express thoughts and values visually (Walkop, undated). In most cases the children have the opportunity to experiment with this material in the playground or while playing other social games. However, in view of the parents’ and, sometimes, the children’s requests, they should be allowed to learn in a structured, yet entertaining, manner, which should be exploited to enrich the musical repertoire. Pleasurable physical activity will affect the body’s shape and structure, reflecting our inner selves (Dichtwald, 1992).

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7-8 year olds, 2nd. and 3rd. grade.

At this age, when the children are more mature and more capable of understanding language and rules, they have greater ability to perform complicated skills. They can distinguish between left and right, their central nervous system is more developed, they are aware of new situations and their coordination is better (Tiano, 1999). These conditions enable them to start studying structured techniques which rely on clear rules.

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The general curriculum for children this age will be comprise twice-weekly lessons of 45-50 minutes, one of which will include a lesson in classical ballet. The activity in the second lesson will be varied between modern dance, jazz and improvisation.

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Classical ballet is a technique with clear rules to be found in every movement and situation, whose execution demands much concentration and attention. Thus at this age only the primary foundations should be taught in the simplest manner, including

1.  Rotating the leg from the thigh.

2.     Maintaining the correct pelvic position, without lowering the loradosa.

3.                     Maintaining high foot arches (Heiman, 1998/9).

4. Long and gentle use of the arms.

5.  Executing all these elements together without exerting and straining the   muscles and while assuring correct breathing.

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The classical ballet lesson will include the following material:

1. Positioning the legs: sixth, first, second and third, and later, the small fourth. These positions should first be practiced while standing without any extra movements, so that the positioning of the pelvic girdle, the knee movements and raising the arches can be corrected (Heiman, 1998/9). Practicing when the body is static allows the pupils to understand the feeling of correct posture and strengthen the muscles relevant for this position.

2. Demi-plié in the positions.

3. Port des bras – forwards and to the sides only.

4. Battement tondus in parallel – forwards only.

5. Battement tendu in turnout – forwards and to the side only.

6. Coupé, pas de cheval – forwards and to the side only.

7. Pointé  – forwards only.

8. Relevé.

The hand in use will rest on the waist.

Correct habits should be inculcated in everything pertaining to working at the bar, including turning from side to side while facing the bar, holding the bar correctly, the correct use of the floor, maintaining a logical distance from the pupil in front and behind and so on.

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Center

Transition to working in the center of the room must be orderly. I recommend using a different order each time, alternating between the rows while executing the exercise, so that every pupil will be in the front row at least once.

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The exercises will comprise elements executed at the bar, using the space, by:

1.  Transferring weight from one foot to the other.

2.  Moving from one place top another.

3.  Performing little jumps on both feet.

4.  Slow practice of the arm positions.

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In the last part of the lesson, flowing movement along a long path should be permitted, by moving along the diagonal or in a circle. The exercises usually include stylized walking and different types of quick jumps.

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To maintain the joy of dancing and the love of movement, one should avoid, during the last part of the lesson, insisting too much on the exact execution of the elements learned at the bar and in the center of the room. These sections will be introduced into free-flowing movement at a more mature stage, when the psychomotor ability will be more developed (Lidor, 1994). Enjoying dancing will afford healthy, vivacious development (Dichtwald, 1992).

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In addition to the classical ballet lessons which improve and strengthen the body and its sublimation, one should continue developing the imagination and ability to act that exist at this age (Tiano, 1999). This is done through improvisation lessons based on materials studied the previous year, but with more advanced combinations as regards structure, working in small groups, swiftness and quality of movement, analyzing the results and so on.

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Modern dance lessons will be included for a third or half of the year, during which the basics of flowing movement in different directions, sinking to the floor, turns and jumps will be taught. Freedom of movement should be allowed, while maintaining beat through the use of modern, varied and good music. This period  in the development of the motor ability should be used to reinforce it.

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The jazz lessons will be based on the division and separation of the various parts of the body and the coordination between them. Popular music can be used for pleasure and for motivating learning. Almost every exercise can be comprised of a short dance performed individually, in pairs or in trios. This is the age suitable for intensifying quick reactions to stimuli and a love of games and sports (Tiano, 1999).

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8-9 year olds, 3rd. and 4th. grades

At this age, which is in the middle of the stage of concrete operations, the child develops the ability to draw conclusions and use logical thought. Maturity and learning, which started the previous year, affect motor development and physical behavior (Sadeh, 1995). Psychomotor ability improves (Lidor, 1994) and can be employed to achieve further progress.

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The general curriculum for this age will include twice-weekly lessons of 60 minutes. One lesson will always be of classical dance, while the subject of second lesson will vary between modern dance, jazz and improvisations. Many movements, not studied the previous year, will be added in the classical ballet lesson, out of consideration for the pupils’ increasing physical and cognitive ability. Based on practice and knowledge acquired the previous year with regard to the execution of basic movements and maintaining correct posture, one can teach more difficult material. From the point of view of internal and external discipline, the basics have been internalized and one can progress.

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9-year old girls, who have not studied ballet before, will quickly be able to understand material taught the previous year and integrate in that class, on the condition that they are a minority and physically and mentally developed. The average perception at this age is very good and whoever starts studying ballet then will be motivated to succeed.

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The teacher should add new contents to the classical ballet lesson, preserving the simple, easily remembered patterns to assure continuity and coping with correct, exact execution and aware of personal ability.

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In addition to the exercises studied the previous year, the following will also be studied:

Grande plié – in the first, second and third positions

Battement tendus in turnout, en croix (from the first position)

Batetment tendus in turnout en croix (from the third position)

“Point lift, point close”, preparation for glissé

Glissé en croix

Ronde de jambes à tèrre, en dehors et en dedans

One must assure slow movements to allow as full and exact execution of positions and movements as possible.

Sous sus et demi-detourné

Small passé

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In the center

Croisé position

Port de bras, en croisé

Tendu devant en croisé as preparation for temps liée

Pas-de-bourré

Passé changing legs

Changement de pied

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From the corner in pairs

Gallope

Polka, at turns and spins

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The exercises performed in the center or from the corner can be in small and easy combinations of two consecutive elements. The exercises should be repeated so that the students will become familiar with them and internalize the pattern, and will be able to deal with the physical aspect as suitably and as independently as possible.

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Modern dance and jazz lessons will continue to develop coordination, the control of tempo, and progress in different directions in space. The exercises will be based on material studied the previous year, and will be developed into more complicated combinations. Professionally, it would be preferable to teach two classical ballet lessons and one lesson in modern dance or jazz and improvisation each week. But reality prevents this since the cost to the parents would be too high. Moreover, at this age children attend more than one extra-curricular activity and they do not relate to ballet as a study activity in which they have to invest more than in other activities. Friendships are important to them and occupy much of their time (Tiano, 1999).

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The amount of time devoted to improvisation was reduced since there is an immediate need at this age to study correct technique and basic exercises. Many work habits are determined at this age, on which domain focus should be laid.

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9-10 year-olds, 4th. and 5th. grades

Considerable progress is made in many fields at this age. The girls who now continue studying decide independently that they are interested in this subject and invest more effort in it than in other fields. The central nervous system has matured, and the pupils’ approach to the subject is completely adult. They are thus offered the opportunity to take an active part in their own education for the sake of their personal development (Feldenkreis, 1967).

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The facts allow them to cope with more lessons each week and progress more than in the past.

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The lessons will last 70-75 minutes. Twice a week the emphasis will be on classical ballet and once a week on other types of movement such as modern dance, jazz, and enrichment in other dance styles. One should not forgo the two classical ballet lessons since physical ability must be reinforced, and they must cope with the rapid growth that many girls experience at this age. Rapid growth alters the physical proportions of the body, and sometimes temporarily weakens the muscles controlling posture. Therefore they must exercise more to fortify the body’s support system and its movements.

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The following exercises will be added to the classical ballet lessons:

Port des bras – reverse and turning backwards and forwards

Frappé

Petit battement

Fondue

Rond de jambe en l’air en dehors et en dedans

Fouette

Attitude devant

Grand battement en croix

Developpes en croix 

In the center

Temps liée

Balance

Passé sure relevé

Preparing the head for pirouette

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The jumps

Echappé, glissade, petit jette, soubresous, pas de chat, sissons fermé

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From the corner

Grande jetée et glissade

Sissone fermé

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Each exercise will include at least two elements, with greater emphasis on the rules of combinations and the logical continuity and pattern. One should adhere to conventional patterns since they are logical and based on clean flow of movement as well as being simple to assure internalization and clean work. The length of the lessons affords time to work on most of the elements in every lesson and progress can be faster.

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The other lessons will also add elements and styles for enrichment. The creative lessons should be extremely fruitful and reach the level of minor artistic creations.

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11-year olds and above, from 6th. grade on

Those continuing at this age are already aware of their personal limitations and ability and have a fairly clear idea whether they want to follow a professional or amateur direction. If possible the group should be divided according to the pupils’ levels of ability and their future intentions. But this age is complicated emotionally and they are easily hurt. A way should be found to help those with professional potential to progress without upsetting their friends who are interested in dancing for amateur purposes only.

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The division can be facilitated by holding lessons for the whole group once or twice a week, with additional lessons only for pupils capable of a higher level of professionalism. This should be discussed with each pupil individually, explaining the reasons and involving the parents in the decisions. An experienced professional teacher will be able to see the hidden potential and encourage the pupil to continue with the advanced group, even if she feels it is difficult.

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The lessons will last 90 minutes, during which the pupils will gradually learn the entire repertoire of ballet movements. Since the basis is already well organized, the movement infrastructure is ready and understanding complete, the repertoire should be taught gradually, ensuring clean, correct execution. Each week there will be at least two classical ballet lessons, one modern dance or jazz lesson and one lesson chosen by the teacher or the administration as either a lesson in creativity or on technique.

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Should the fourth lesson be chosen as a lesson in creativity, in which artistic choreography is developed, participation in community or school events should be initiated to develop awareness of the final product, exhibit it and learn to handle public criticism. This affords an opportunity to discuss the results, for reflection, and encourages developing skills (Gardner, 1993).

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4.7 Additional events for the entire school

Several general events will take place during the school year:

1. Around the time of the winter festival of Chanuka there will be a model lesson for each group individually, during which the parents and other family members will observe a lesson. The lesson will be divided according to the subjects studied till then and include explanations that emphasize the main subjects studied by each group.

2. One lesson will be held during the year for two age groups of vastly differing ability, such as for the Petitpas group with the Killian group, or for the Isadora group with the Cabriole group. They will perform exercises suitable for each group with similar content but at different levels of difficulty and execution. This will enable the older pupils to help the younger ones, while the latter will be able to observe the more advanced work they may perform in the future.

3. At the end of the second trimester the movements studied by each group will be summarized as brief dances with specific movement content and with minimal costume. The summary will be presented to the parents, friends and other guests.

4. At the end of the school year, a special performance will be held focusing on a specific story. The subject chosen will be such that it will lead the participants to indirect study of new contents. A production of the Sleeping Beauty, for example, will teach the pupils a little about Tchaikovsky and about mimicry in ballet; they will watch a video film of a professional performance of the ballet and try to analyze the characters in the story. Another story will include other subjects and a different method of study.

5. Attending quality dance performances should be encouraged throughout the year and the pupils should watch video films suitable to the guided subjects and substance.

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All these are important projects which contribute to, and enrich, the learning process (Gardner, 1993).

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Summary

The artistic dance curriculum can be adapted to every child with regular motor and psychological ability. Teachers of dance, with knowledge of anatomy and psychology, and who like that subject and children, can provide their pupils with a wonderful experience, educating them towards self-awareness, sublimation, correct posture, and, some say, even to order and tidiness (although I am not convinced of this), all via lessons of dance technique and creativity.

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Since the formal education framework does not allocate resources to this artistic field, apart from schools specializing in the arts, dance can only be studied in private or municipal frameworks during leisure hours. There are many schools of dance, but most lack a structured curriculum which relies on thorough knowledge of the various elements that comprise the discipline. Parents who send their children to the extra-curricular classes are not aware of these factors and therefore cannot be critical or prevent the negligence that can cause physical and emotional harm.

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This curriculum offers a complete syllabus for artistic dance studies, as I believe to be correct. Enjoying the studies the pupils will realize their potential to the maximum and develop their personal ability to the maximum in this domain.

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In the framework of this paper, I could not effect significant and long-term research, allowing me to explore the impact of studying dance as presented in this curriculum. However, I sent questionnaires to several pupils and their parents to explore its physical and psychological influence on the pupils.

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Analysis of the questionnaires

The questionnaires were sent to pupils who had studied in the past and those presently attending classes at my school of dance, in which the approach and curricula are identical to those presented in this study. I have taken into consideration the fact that relatively young girls cannot focus their vision and analyze their feelings clearly. It would nevertheless be interesting to know what they feel, even if they cannot explain themselves fully. The parents, on the other hand, know what they want of the lessons, and what they expect to happen.

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Girls who danced in the past and are now after their military service can view their studies with a current perspective of their lives today, and can analyze the results of this experience.

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I assume there are girls who did not receive the questionnaires, who may have experienced this differently, remaining with negative feelings, but they are certainly the minority. Every pupil who enjoys the lessons and makes progress has personal reasons for this, and every pupil who does not progress, and leaves disappointed also has personal reasons.

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The most frequent answer in the questionnaires is that noting the contribution of ballet to improving movement and posture, to a better physique, making progress in dance for its own sake and improving self-confidence. These answers were mainly provided by the parents, who follow their children’s progress during the years of study, as well as by pupils of different ages. As Recanati’s research shows (1997), 16% of youth in school are troubled by their physical image, which affects their social status. This in turn affects their functioning in school and their behavior in society (Recanati, 1997).

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All the other answers indicate that ballet answers the individual needs of each in a different way. The difficulties and enjoyment also vary between pupils according to personality. Some refer to enjoying the musical aspect and the ability to use ballet as a language of special individual expression. The questionnaires clearly indicate that girls who study ballet for its own sake are aware of its contribution to improvement in other domains as well (Eisner, 1998)

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Bibliography

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Dichtwald, K. (1992), Body and soul, the connection between the body and the soul for the sake of perfect health. Tel Aviv: Zemora Bitan/ Alpha.

Eden, S. (undated), The new curriculum – principles and processes. A reader for the course on school curricula, produced for the Israel extension of Leeds University

Eisner, W.A. (1998), “Does experimentation with art improve scholastic achievement?” Art Education, 51 (1).

Feldenkreis, M. (1967), Improving ability, theory and practice. Tel Aviv: Aleph.

Gardner, H. (1993), Multiple intelligences, Theory and practice. NY: Basic Books

Heiman, E. (1998/9), Applications of kinsiological principles in dance. The course curriculum and a collection of articles for 3rd. year students in the dance and movdment track at the Kibbutz teacher’s training college.

Lewis, A.G. (1990), Arts – are they necessary? London: Franklin Watts

Lidor, R; (1994), Motor development at a young age. Natanya: Wingate Institute for Physical Training.

Piaget, J. (1983), The psychology of the child, Tel Aviv.

Recanati, M. (1997), The reasons for pupils failing at the school in which I teach and the methods I found for their prevention. Jerusalem: David Yellin Teachers’ training college, M.A dissertation.

Sadeh, S. (1995), Developmental psychology and its connection to trainers work. A reader. Natanya: The Wingate Institute for physical training.

Sherman, O. (1993), Theory and practice in planning teaching. A reader for course S301, the Israel extension of Leeds University.

Tiano, S. (1999), Child and adolescent psychiatry. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press.

Wallkop, N. Art curriculum home page links. North Texas: Institute for Art Eduation

 

Appendix

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Questionnaire

This questionnaire is not an examination and does not check the person completing it in any way. It is intended to help my University studies. Please answer it honestly.

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1. At what age did you start studying ballet?                         _________________

2. For how many years have you studied ballet?                  _________________

3. Why do/did you study ballet?                                            _________________

4. Which position, movement or exercise do you most like?  ________________

5. Do you know why you enjoy that movement? Try to phrase this in words.

     _____________________________________________________________

6. Which position, exercise or movement do you not like to perform?

     _____________________________________________________________

7. Do you know why?  ______________________________________________

8. Do you feel that ballet contributes something to your life? If yes, what?

     _____________________________________________________________

9. Please add any comments you wish here.

     _____________________________________________________________

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Question to parents

Do you think ballet contributes to your daughter’s life? If so, how?

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Thank you for your cooperation,

Dina Shmueli-Hinkis

צור קשר