Dancers are artists, and because of this, it is important to remain as creative as possible to give meaning to the expressions that physical strength and training allow dancers to do. As a teacher, this is doubly important. The creativity you use to develop your lesson plans shows in your students’ response to the lesson and the creative efforts they put into their dances. This is because, as a teacher, you are a creative role model! When a student sees a role model using less creative energy, they begin to believe that they do not need to put forth as much energy themselves. Maintaining a strong flow of creative ideas is difficult, though. Luckily, encouraging ideas is easier than you’d think.
Like anything else, you should set goals for what you want to accomplish as a teacher. Creative goals are a bit different than other goals, though. When you set creative goals, it is important to focus on the how as much as the thing you are trying to reach. You can teach a student to pirouette, but if you only show them the technical movements and do not, instead, also teach them to love the pirouette and the emotions it can convey, you are not giving them a full lesson. List or picture what you want to accomplish with your students. Then, go beyond that and think of ways you can teach them beyondthe bare technical movements. How can you make them feel the passion you feel for dance?
Challenges and Skills
This approach works for personal creativity and instilling creativity in students. Take the things you already know how to do, and challenge yourself to go beyond in some small way. For instance, if you have already taught grand jétes, you may challenge your students to work on getting the highest or farthest leap. This encourages them to focus on a particular aspect of a skill they already have, and it encourages fun competition among teammates. Over time these small challenges will help you develop technically and performatively.
You may think that stepping back from an issue to deal with another one will help you refocus, yet thinking about your grocery list won’t help you think of a new way to build a lesson plan. Instead of distracting yourself, continue to work, but approach it from different perspectives. Try teaching yourself the lesson looking for things that may be confusing to a student to pinpoint areas that will need more time and encouragement to get through.
Enjoy What You Do
Just accomplishing a goal, developing a skill, or creating a fun way to do something will not fulfill your creative needs. You need to enjoy the small tasks as well. Teach each lesson because you enjoy teaching and because you like to see the pride in a young dancer as they grow in skill. If you are only working from goal to goal, you will likely find that you get burnt out quickly and don’t enjoy what you are doing.