During the Spring of 2017, Jackie Foss, the director of PMA Theatre Guild (and my former high school theatre teacher) asked me to come work with her on her students' spring musical for the following year. During the Fall of 2017, I proposed a research project to my advisor and project sponsor, Dr. Donna Dragon, that centered around choreographing this musical. The first phase of the project was proposing it to my sponsor and the BSU Department of Dance. Here is what I originally proposed:
A: The nature of the project
For my Advanced Individual Project, I am proposing that I research teaching a diverse population of high school theatre students in both theory and practice. I will be choreographing a theatrical production of The Addams Family for the Presentation of Mary Academy Theatre Guild. The students in this population attend a small, private high school in Methuen, Massachusetts. The theatre department is expecting a large number of students to audition. Some of the students have extensive dance experience, while others have little to no experience. This population includes students in grades 9-12, as well as a mix of both male and female students (there may also be students of other gender expressions, as well as students of various orientations). While this population is varied, my task is to get the students to execute similar movements that coincide with the theatre company’s vision of the show.
My primary research questions for this project include, “What are different teaching methods toward choreographing for high school theatre students at mixed levels and various genders?”, “How can I motivate disengaged students to dance”, and “Of the methods found and applied, which were the most effective and why? Which were the least effective and why?”.
B: Your educational goals for the project
From this project, I am hoping to answer the research questions, as well as create a toolbox of teaching methods that I can use when I teach similar populations in the future.
I plan to learn how to interpret theories of dance teaching methods to apply in teaching similar populations (i.e. a dance class in a high school) as well as in teaching choreography for other theatrical productions.
C: Your primary activities to complete the project
At the beginning of my project, I will be researching differentiated teaching methods that I will then apply to rehearsals. After applying each method, I will my observations in a journal. I will be looking to see which methods were effective and ineffective, and why. In addition to students’ comprehension of the material, I am also studying their engagement and motivation. From past experience with a similar population, I have noticed that students with little to no experience are often discouraged and unmotivated. I have also noticed that students with extensive experience tend to become disengaged and unenthusiastic if and when they are not challenged. I will be looking for ways to keep all of the students motivated and engaged. Throughout the process, I will be consulting with my project supervisor, Dr. Donna Dragon, about the application and result of each teaching method.
D: The products that will result from your work
The first product that will be produced from my work is a full production of The Addams Family. I will also create a journal of observations I make after I apply each found teaching method. I will be creating an annotated bibliography throughout the course of this project of sources that I found, applied, and reflected on. I will create a portfolio or paper as a final reflection on my findings. Lastly, I will be creating a poster to present my research and will be submitting it for the NDEO conference next semester.
E: How you are to be assessed and evaluated.
My project supervisor will view a video of the performance as well as use a rubric to assessment the products of my project.
To see where the project went from here, click through the tabs to see my research, my choreography, and my new knowledge and skills learned from this project!
About the Project
Rebecca Santone is an undergraduate student at Bridgewater State University majoring in dance and secondary education with a minor in musical theatre performance. During the Spring of 2018, Rebecca researched teaching strategies to teach choreography to a high school theatre company, PMA Theatre Guild. After conducting initial research, Rebecca taught choreography to the students of PMA for their production of The Addams Family. Throughout the rehearsal process, she reflected on the teaching methods she used, why each methods were effective and or not effective, and how they may be used in future work with similar populations. For details, click through this portfolio to read about each part of the process, as well as see clips from the production!