Dance training: tradition versus the contemporary view of training

By: Margreet Luitwieler
Position: Senior lecturer BA-DD, ArtEZ, Arnhem, The Netherlands

Dance training, classical ballet training in particular, are known to be very structured, organized, and physically demanding. A combination of strength, flexibility, coordination and condition makes it a complex training of which the origin has a long tradition but historic itself is barely described how they originated and with what intention. This leading training is followed by any dance lover or dance professional and accepted. Ask a dance teacher why he or she should keep to the tight structure, or why he or she is trained in this way?

Why this question has arisen is linked to the search for a new training form: Physical Dynamics. What these two have to do with each other is the question? Commissioned by Netty van den Bosch, head of the Artez BADance teacher department,   the founders off Physical Dynamics, John Wooter and Jonas Frey, get the opportunity to present their ideas about this dance training in the curriculum of the BA Dance Teacher department. A form of training with a different way of training. Physically it is a combination of Breakdance and academic dance (classical and modern dance) but it’s not just about the way they train but especially about how and why one trains. It breaks with the traditional way (master-pupil) and gives a stage to a crew thought. A community that helps each other, together moves, adds, and learn from each other. But when you examine a new training form, it is also important to review the existing training.

The new training form was not the subject but turned out to be the reason for a larger research. Researcher Margreet luitwieler with her supervisor Peter Sonderen, lector theory in the arts joined the multiannual international research by Next Move with the research question I How can the dancer body/mind be trained in a way that the student can pick up every different dance forms smoothly? Is there is a new kind of dance class/method style to develop?

The experience of recent year’s shows that the traditional training courses, classical ballet, modern and jazz training increasingly is a stumbling block for new incoming students of the ArtEZ BA dance teacher department. That is not only visible during the audition for this course but turns out to be more and more an obstacle for the student during the training. What does that mean? We think the training methods have far more a stronger hidden ideal model of (especially classical and modern) contain dance than we thought. As a result, we focus our research on the pillars of the education that always seem to be as neutral: the training forms.

The research gives a glimpse into the historical context how training courses have emerged, the reality of the day by means of surveys of current students, a look back at the past by interviews with alumni that a picture on the daily training sessions within the course of the Artez BA Dance Teacher department and the vision of the different specialist teachers about their Artez BA training courses.

It is a special quest where the limits of the tradition and the question were raised why we train in the way we train. It is not a judgement but we can put a different perspective look at what dance is, how we learn, how we dance and dance experience, contribute to and give us a new look at our  tradition training. At what point in your training do you appeal the student as a dancer, a maker or teacher. That will determine the shape of the les and the teaching methods used.

This research is a moment of intervention and certainly no end point. This is a beginning and we have created a glimpse of how we training, looking towards training and how the students have experienced this. Perhaps this view of training offer an entry for a different kind of student and dance teacher that develops a wider image of the dance teacher profession. This topic challenges to talk to each other about dance, training and dance tradition, how can it retain its value and can at the same time adapt to the flow of this time.

The team that Margreet Luitwieler has been working with consists of:

  • Dance Teacher Founder (one of two founders) of the training form Physical Dynamics and fellow researcher: John Wooter teacher Physical Dynamics
  • Supervisor of the research: Peter Sonderen Artez Lector Theory in the arts.
  • Assistant researcher: Nigel Koevoet, fourth year student Artez BA Education of dance training
  • Principle: Netty van den Bosch, head of the Artez BA Education of dance training