Every Wednesday and Friday night, I teach a class called 30/30. The class is split into two half-hour segments – 30 minutes of Ballet, 30 minutes of Tap. At the end of the hour, I announce that it’s time for “Miss Nadine’s favorite part of class.” Naturally, I announce this like a ringmaster at the circus. It’s quite exciting. My favorite part of class is “dancer’s choice.” The girls are allowed to pick their favorite tap step to do across the floor. I think it’s safe to say that this is their favorite part of class as well.
This exercise is both fun and educational. The phrase “do whatever you want” may sound dangerous, but it’s actually quite effective when used correctly. Through choosing, dancers are learning to make decisions and act without instructions. According to Dance Advantage, the freedom to choose empowers students to make independent decisions and act without instruction. The only rule is that they must do a tap step.
They have the power to choose, but they cannot choose to do nothing. There is a limited number of options.
As a bonus, this portion of class always shows me what the class has learned so far. When I began this tradition, I assumed that everyone would do the easiest step. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first dancer in line chose the hardest step. Not wanting to be outdone, the following dancers chose the same step or an even more difficult step. Whether this stems from competition or peer pressure, it’s encouraging to see the students challenging themselves to do the difficult steps.