Dance teaching as embodied multimodal practice - defence of licentiate essay
Annika Notér Hooshidar defends the licentiate essay "Dance teaching as embodied multimodal practice. A study about communication and interaction in dance teaching."
Annika Notér Hooshidar is an Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Dance at the School of Dance and Circus.
Dance teaching as embodied multimodal practice
A study about communication and interaction in dance teaching
The overall aim of this study is to increase the knowledge about how communication and interaction between students and teachers is manifested in dance teaching and learning, with a special focus on the students’ agency and how that can be assumed to affect their conditions for learning.
In a dance class, teachers and students engage in the dance practice by using different semiotic modes of communication; body movements and gestures, touch, hearing, gaze, sound and speech. The teaching and learning situation can be described as a complex multimodal configuration of signs in different time and space based modes. The object of study is to examine students’ and teachers’ interaction and communication in detail, with a focus on how different semiotic resources are being used and how that affects the design of the dance class.
The data consist of video recordings of dance classes in dance college education and more specifically the daily dance practice, the dance class. Video recordings were made in jazz dance, contemporary dance and ballet classes. These genres are, in various degrees, bearers of a tradition of dance teaching where students repeat the movement material that the teacher demonstrates. I base my choice on the fact that this is a common way of teaching dance both in dance college education and elsewhere. By using a multimodal analysis, different modes of communication and their interplay were brought into focus. Employing the perspective of a social semiotic multimodal theory the analyzed data were interpreted and discussed.
The result has shown the importance of the body in communication and interaction between students and teachers in dance teaching and learning. Communication and interaction involve and combine different embodied semiotic resources. Signs are being made, interpreted and remade/redesigned with, through and in the body. The way the teachers use their voices in combination with body movements and gestures in instructions and feedback, makes these resources appear hierarchically more important than the verbal language. The result shows that the students make rhetoric choices in their learning processes. It is shown by the way they choose to attend to what the teacher communicates. The students’ choices in responding are mostly by showing how they understand. Further the results show that the teacher is responsible for the overall design of the dance class. The study material consists mostly of movements that the teacher has created in relation to a genre’s esthetics, the teacher chooses what aspects to focus on and how time is disposed. The students’ agency seems limited in terms of how they can affect and influence the design of the dance class. This means that the knowledge that is produced to a great extent is dependent on the teacher’s choices, her esthetic values and her own knowledge. From a didactic point of view this needs to be addressed in dance education in terms of how dance classes are designed, it concerns questions of esthetics, values and power.
Keywords: dance teaching and learning, communication, interaction, multimodality, semiotic resource, design