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Rhythmic Movement

Dance Series

Susan Helene Kramer


Is Rhythmic Movement Dance Modern or Ballet?
Research | Teaching | Publications



This is an educational site, begun in 1965 when I began creating texts in a collection called Rhythmic Movement Dance Series.

Offered for children in the format of ballet, modern dance and rhythmic movement, with some material for adults and those challenged, collections include choreography, dance elements and lesson plans, all with the aim of developing basic body-mind coordination. One collection offers tips for adaptive teaching.

I have taken my dance and music education into the classroom to teach children how to move to clapping and percussion instruments, and to the rhythms, phrases and melodies of music and song. Through the somatic process of moving their bodies enthusiastically, dynamically and rhythmically in time through space in the classroom and outdoors, the students have learned basic academic skills of patterns and rhythms in language, reading, math, and the social skills of cooperation and collaboration.

These publications in HTML may be downloaded for personal use, but not commercially without permission.

Statement from GEM:
"The Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) is the key to one-stop, any-stop access
to thousands of high quality lesson plans, curriculum units and other education
resources on the Internet! GEM is a project of the U.S. Department of Education and
is a special project of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology.
Rhythmic Movement Dance Series is a member of the GEM Consortium."

Is 'Rhythmic Movement Dance' modern or ballet?

For the sake of categorization, modern is the more appropriate label, though I learned the 16 basic rhythmic movements in ballet classes with Carol Lynn, who had a Denishawn (Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn) influence. Carol Lynn instituted the womens' dance education program in the mid 1930s at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and University of Dance founded by Ted Shawn, where she served as Associate Director from 1943 to 1960.

I consider myself a disciple of Ted Shawn, a 1st generation modern dancer and choreographer, with whom I studied the summers of 1963 and 1964 at the Pillow. My own work over the intervening years developed from Shawn's vision of dance in education.

The main body of my dance training was with Carol Lynn and Margaret Craske in classical ballet; Myra Kinch and Ted Shawn in modern ballet and choreography; Ann Hutchinson in Labanotation; Carola Goya in classical Hindu dance; Mateo, Roberto Ximenez and Manolo Vargas in classical Spanish dance; Nel Roos in choreography. Since 1965 I have been teaching rhythmic movement dance and ballet to people of all ages and degrees of mobility.

Research | Teaching | Publications

In the fall of 1965 I was referred by Carol Lynn of the Peabody Preparatory Dance Department of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore, Maryland, to teach as a dance specialist in after school arts programs in Clarksville, Atholton, and later, Cape St. Claire, Maryland, for children, teens, adults, and challenged students. This part-time teaching of rhythmic movement, modern dance and ballet continued in Maryland and then after 1975 in California, until 1986 in Buckingham, Virginia.

Additionally, 1971 through 1986, I developed my notes on the practical application of rhythmic movement and modern dance in teaching academics into lesson plans through the progress I saw while volunteering my efforts weekly, with small groups, in my children's elementary school classrooms in Cape St. Claire, Maryland, and Goleta, California.

During the 1972-1973 school year I taught rhythmic movement and dance weekly at a preschool in Annapolis, Maryland - doing the research for what I later published as Rhythmic Movement for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

It was during the years 1965 to 1986 that I choreographed the dances for the online collections Dances for Preschoolers, Rhythmic Dances for Children and Adults, and Tarentelle. I also composed the music, choreographed, and wrote the songs for Singing While Dancing to Learn Basic Math.

For 6 weeks during the summer of 1979 I taught daily rhythmic movement sessions with small groups of learning and severely handicapped students in Santa Barbara County, California. As our base we sat in a circle and did the sequence of floor exercises I developed to stretch and strengthen, and clapped rhythms. The students took turns moving around the outside of the circle while the students sitting clapped sets of (1, 2, 3, 4) and substituted silent claps for each of the numbers. These students, age 5 to 9, though academically challenged could, nonetheless, clap the patterns rhythmically, somatically. This period of time added to the material for the text Adaptive Rhythmic Movement for Children to Seniors.

During the 1984-1985 academic year I voluntarily taught rhythmic movement every school day for 45 minutes to a kindergarten class in Santa Barbara County, California, carefully recording how the students' body-mind skills, confidence, self-discipline, and attention span improved over the 9-month period. Included in the daily class were, eventually, all the 16 basic rhythmic movements and floor exercises from my text "Free to Move While Learning the 3Rs," copyright 1978, which has been expanded into the current online text Free to Move - Body-Mind Rhythmic Movement. I developed the sequence of the 16 basic rhythmic movements by noting from my research over the years in what order the students were most easily able to perform the increasingly more complex rhythms, beginning with walking in levels as the easiest, to the polka which is made up of 2 gallops and a step through to 2 additional gallops and on, which is the most complex. I choreographed the basics into simple dances using patterns and sets, adding and subtracting. Many of the mini-lessons in 'Body-Mind Rhythmic Movement' were developed in a year giving daily kinesthetic lessons to kindergartners  - who all succeeded in learning to skip, and many learned the more advanced polka movement. The students learned to move in sets, then, adding and subtracting their sets, and they moved by stopping and starting in the phrases of music just as the phrases in a sentence have shorter and longer pauses. The students moved dynamically and changed directions by watching my non-verbal hand signals - somatically teaching the students how to concentrate on what was happening in the moment and to respond appropriately.

Spring, 1986, I taught a 6-week session of fundamentals of ballet to children and physical education teachers as a 'Dance Artist in Residence' under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in Education, Project MARK - More Arts for Rural Kids, in Buckingham, Virginia.

Fall, 1999, I published Clapping, Moving for Learning 16 Basic Rhythmic Movements as a text that child or adult could pick up and use just from the illustrations. Making the language very concise and the many rhythmic practice combinations easy to follow, I have had translations done and published in Dutch, French, German and Spanish. For further practice in ABA sequencing see my text Combinations of Basic Rhythmic Movements with Clapping.

In 2002 I compiled and annotated my notes on Cecchetti ballet. I published this text online as Classical Ballet Beginning to Advanced. Ballet may not generally be thought of as a way to teach academics somatically, but I recorded a list of applications I discovered while teaching, which I have included in the introductory notes of this classical ballet text.


Rhythmic Movement Dance Series Resources in Gateway to Educational Materials GEM

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webmaster  | page updated November 2009; March 28, 2011; February 16, 2014