Jive talking;Resources;Secondary

29th May 1998 at 01:00
Dance TV. Five-part video including CD and teacher's notes. From BBC Education. pound;29.99.

I don't think I got into rhythm - rhythm got into me," says James Doubtfire, a dancer from the exuberant and noisy Australian troupe Tap Dogs. His colleague James Anthony remembers a similarly hyperactive start to his dance career: "jittering about, dancing to every rhythm going, even supermarket Muzak".

Aimed at non dance-teachers, this video is based on the BBC's first television series on dance - although it's been on radio for 75 years. It hops and shakes with anecdotes from professionals and fresh reflections on the creative process from pupils, and delivers the curriculum in a dynamic, modern fashion.

Using a racy combination of open-ended menus and performance re-caps, film sequences are spliced with martial arts, sports footage and graphics that should make even couch potatoes leap from their seats.

Union Dance Company performs "Dance Tek Warriors" on a rooftop; GCSE students harness karate and tai chi in a slapstick computer games spoof; and apprehensive members of the British men's athletics relay team learn a hip-hop street dance. In the "Dance Athletes", section, Bradford City footballers use their nimble footwork in a fast-paced routine including press-ups and headers.

In "Dance Rhythms" choreographer Shobana Gulati reinvents Kathak dance styles and Akran Khan reworks the fluid gestures and foot patterns of classical Indian dance.

More fun comes from the hit company Stomp, which creates a Busby Berkely-style drama using brushes and dustbin lids, and 14-year-olds from Harrow DANCE perform a slapping, thudding South African miners' gumboot routine - just boots, hands and voices.

The "Street Dance" section features American choreographer Doug Elkins, who uses moonwalking, bodypopping, computer graphics, acrobatics and ballet to create what he calls a "text". Caroleen Hinds from the Jiving Lindy Hoppers traces African-based charleston through lindy hop and jitterbug to its more modern transmogrifications - ceroc, jive and streetdance.

A special programme shows four teachers using the series with their students. Josimba Panthera explores links between Irish and African foot patterns; Kim Rowe embellishes the "Jinga" step, derived from the Brazilian martial art Capoeira, with his 11-year-old dance beginners. And Julei Davies works on an improvised "friendship" dance.

Rigorously overseen by dance educationist Jacqueline Smith-Autard, this series breaks down the building blocks of dance composition into bite-sized chunks - the who, what, where and how of choreography that turns a series of leaps and rolls into a small work of art.

Producer Sarah Miller sees the series as a confidence-boosting springboard for pupils and teachers. "Using contemporary culture as a starting point, these deceptively simple programmes help young people learn about structure," she says. "Exploring themes and stimuli, using light and shade. Think of dance as literature. You have Shakespeare, but you also have limericks and narrative poetry."

Norma Cohen

Orders for 'Dance TV' can be made to BBC Education, tel: 0181 746 1111. A dance INSET programme for primary teachers will be shown on BBC2 on June 5, at 11.30am

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