Educators Versus Instructors: Why Not All Creative Movement Teachers are Equal

Today is a guest post from online friend and blogger Heather Vaughan- Southard. You can visit her blog here. Enjoy!

As educators, we strive to guide our students to a place of independent thinking, thoughtful analysis, and reflective response, all leading directly to confidence in ability, action, and presence. Yet, many dance studios offer creative movement classes taught by their most “advanced” teen-aged dancers.

In a recent post, Maria posed a question regarding the definition of Creative Movement to which there were several exciting responses. But let’s focus for a few moments on what Creative Movement DOES and why it is important that a professional dance Educator is leading your child’s experience:

Creative Movement introduces students (of all ages) to potential, process, and performance. These are the three major concepts that will be ever present as these students move through their lives.

The 3 P’s
Within a creative movement class, students are guided to explore the potential of their movement but also of their imagination. They not only gain experience in experiencing potential they are gently encouraged to begin identifying potential.

• Teachers may ask the kids to mirror their actions engaging elements of dance: Space, Energy, and Time.

• Students are introduced to basic dance technique often through a similar call and response format.

• They are encouraged to move freely based on verbal, visual, or aural cues. Students dance through Space and Time with a range in Energy and often with a sense of freedom and abandonment that allows them to think with bodies in tandem with their minds.

• Students may be invited to contribute their own ideas in how movement, class exercises, or prompts may build on the foundation already laid by the teacher.

Through the creative processes experienced in a Creative Movement class, dancers collaborate with their peers as well as an authority figure. They learn to communicate their ideas and their feelings.

Expression for children is all-encompassing (information AND emotion) resulting in rich dialogue that could teach adults a thing or two if they slowed down long enough to recall.

What is the quickest way to recapture your youth? Dance! Specifically, Creative Movement! This might be motivation enough for a grown up to enroll in a movement experience.

Performance comes in different forms from individual commitment to a single exercise to a formal presentation of skill or knowledge. This is true in the Creative Movement classroom as well as real life. Dancers also learn to present themselves to others and interpret body language.

Other P’s: Progress and Power
If you are a regular reader of Maria’s Movers, you clearly understand the qualities of excellent early dance education.

Creative Movement has the potential to assist students entering school (or already there) in literacy, numeracy, and emotional intelligence. For continuing dancers, it exposes students to a myriad of ways dance classes can be structured and the types of thinking that will be required.

In the classroom of a young teacher, it is rare to find such knowledge let alone the intention to develop the important areas listed above. The instructor may be able to inspire movement in children and maybe that is all you as a parent are looking for. But when you hear people talk about the power in arts education, THIS is what they mean.


  1. Pingback: Guest Post for Maria’s Movers. | educatingdancers

  2. Thank you for reading and taking time to let us know you agree! Teaching “littles” as Maria call them is a big job.

  3. I was offered a job teaching at a studio who refused to pay me my fee for Creative Movement/Creative Dance Classes or for classes for kids under 8. They told me it wasn’t worth it to pay someone much money, after all, the kids are so young and they equated the age of the kid as a major consideration when paying the teacher. I couldn’t believe it. They said a lot more, too.

    I actually said “I have to disagree, I think you need your most experienced and educated person teaching these kids. Plus, they are your bread and butter for the future.” I decided this wasn’t a studio I wanted to be associated with and turned down the position.

    1. Author

      Good for you Suzanne! Way to stand up for yourself and for your fellow dance educators! The problem is more people have that opinion than not. Keep doing this and you will find a studio that appreciates your teaching and will pay you for what you deserve. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this article! I think that it is widely taken for granted that anyone can teach the youngest introductory levels of dance-particularly creative movement. I think that the very concept of creative movement as vehicle for exposing students to movement possibilities instead of one form of dance has become lost in many teaching settings. As a dance educator, I have always felt that it is important that this foundation be taught by experienced and versatile teachers who, most importantly, WANT to teach those ages. Thank you for posting.

    1. Author

      Elizabeth, Thank you for joining in on the conversation. I really loved what you said about it being overlooked that anyone can teach littles. I believe that teaching creative movement is a talent, just like teaching ballet and tap. Teachers must be educated and they should also be experienced! Please stop by again. I love having you here!

  5. Hola! I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

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