The 'wicked' approach to teaching boys dance;Secondary

19th June 1998 at 01:00
Leo Hamilton of the RJC dance company sums up what is required in one word - enthusiasm. De Napoli Clarke echoes that and says you have to be enthusiastic about the music. It doesn't matter which style of music, so long as the teacher and the children are enthusiastic about it. And, they both insist, the teacher does not have to be a brilliant dancer.

Mentioning the word style has De Napoli asking for a change in teachers' vocabulary. Get "with it", encourage the children by using streetwise words and phrases such as "chill" and "wicked". "Speak too clean," he says, "and you will lose young people."

He continues: "Treat your pupils like young adults, not kids, whatever their age. Instead of letting them just do simple things, push them. Push their imaginations and their intellects to the limit. If you don't, they start drifting, looking up at the sky or through the window."

Both Leo and De Napoli believe that a dance lesson gives a chance for the teacher to learn - to learn about the children as well as about themselves. Teachers must also be ready to change the direction of the lesson. "I use my imagination and their imagination," says De Napoli. "Put that together and you've got an art form."

Difficult pupils need a sense of focus, says Leo. Their concentration is easily distracted, so they need a sense of being able to achieve something, and working towards a performance gives them the focus they need. "The process you go through - choreography, rehearsal and then performance - needs concentration and hard work from the teacher and the pupils, but hey, it's wicked!"

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