Bodies in action;Reviews;General;All levels

27th February 1998 at 00:00
MAKING DANCE SPECIAL. Melanie Peters. David Fulton. pound;12.99.

During the 1970s and 80s Veronica Sherbourne promoted a holistic approach to movement teaching, based on Laban, which celebrated individual physical differences and empowered people to feel in control of their bodies and able to relate to each other.

Her developmental movement classes were always fun, as she encouraged self-expression and participation that the behaviourist approach in specialeducation of the time lacked.

It is encouraging to see Melanie Peters taking this approach to movement into the dance curriculum, as the Sherbourne style was based on artistry and self expression. Dance is an art form involving physical skill, an ability to relate to others in movement and an understanding of makingmeaning through movement.

This text outlines an approach to the child's physical and social development through sessions in body awareness and control of energy in relationship play, much of which imitates the movements and behaviour of babies. Revisiting the experiences can be enjoyable for all, but can be especially beneficial for those with physical and social difficulties.

This text is relevant and useful. The Laban framework for movement analysis - the body in action, in space, dynamics of movement, relationships to others - developed to include choreography. Dance appraisal is a useful starting point for the teaching of dance.

There are many examples of sessions to follow, plans and ideas for stimulating dance. The emphasis on physical and social development is interesting for dance education, and taken alongside a critical appraisal of dance forms provides a rich dance curriculum. The active participation of the learner will benefit all pupils, particularly those of primary age.

Jane Tarr is senior lecturer in education at the University of the West of England

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