IntroductionMelanie: Hello my name is Melanie Bunker. I’m eighteen years old and I have attendedISB for about 11 years. Senior Seminar explores the different theories of knowledge andhow we can apply them to our everyday life. We have gone in depth about the basic fourWoK: reason, perception, language and emotion. We have also studied other areas ofknowledge such as mathematics, arts, sciences, history, ethics, and religion. The aim ofthis class is to try to find explanations for ‘how do we know what we know’? With theWok and the AoK I mentioned, as a class we have come closer to finding answers to thatbasic question than we were before the semester started. Today I will be talking abouthow different ways of knowing have affected my learning experiences in the dancingfield and helped me grow both as an individual and as a dance student.Interviewer: What is a specific example of your learning experiences as a dancer thathas affected you as a dance student?Overview of my Learning ExperienceMelanie: A specific example of my learning experiences from my dance career wouldbe: my student dance assistant job I have had for the past 5 years and my dance classesthat I attend. Over the past 5 years I have helped taught jazz and ballet classes toelementary students from the ages of 10 to the age of 4. As a dance assistant I havehad the pleasure of going week after week, day after day to a room full of energeticelementary kids to teach them something that I love. I have studied different dance stylessince I started dancing; jazz, ballet, and pointe. I have participated in IASAS dance forthe past two years along with taking IB Dance class. I have had the privilege to haveamazing teachers for all the dance styles that I have taken.Taking dance classes itself has basically taught me self-discipline and how much love Imust have for doing dance for me to do it for about 15 hours a week.Interviewer: Therefore, in reflecting and giving us an overall introduction about yourexperience as a dance assistant, how has different ways of knowledge affect your learningboth as a dance assistant and a dancer specifically?WoK #1: LanguageMelanie: Now that I have introduced what it has meant to me to be a dance assistant andas a dancer, we can link this to the different Ways of Knowing to how dance it taught inand of itself.When you teach dance you don’t always have to use the spoken language, we use our
body language to communicate different dance moves so that collectively as a wholethe group can perform their best. The dance terms are specific and you have to know themeanings in order to do the steps that your teacher is asking you to do.Interviewer: What theory from the Language WaysofKnowing does this apply to?meaning as know how which is I learned the meaning of the word when I knew how touse it-- For example, I know what a chasse is from not only the dictionary definition ofthe translation is “to chase”, so in my mind whenever I hear ‘chasse’ I know that myfeet have to ‘chase’ each other in the air. When you teach children the terms you have tomake sure that you know it so that you don’t confuse them. Many times I have seen girlscalling steps the wrong names and I have to correct them.After years of ballet and jazz I have a small repertoire of French words. I don’t have to befluent in French—or even take French class to know what my teachers are telling me todo but since I have heard the name of the step and my teacher showed me that step, I canassociate the step with that word.Interviewer: Can this be applied to any other theories of meaning?Dance is not only about the definition theory- like the meaning of the terms but imagetheory as well and how I interpret the steps that my teacher tells me to do. This form oflanguage is entirely creative and open-ended. Myself and other dancers are able to usethe language used to create dozens of different combinations if we are given as little as 5dance terms.Interviewer: What are some problems you have encountered as a dancer with language?Melanie: Some problems, just like in language, that when my teacher says a danceterm it is still a matter of know-how. Unless I have heard the term before and haveactually tried the step, chances are that I will know what my teacher is asking us to do.But if I have only heard that term once, then chances are I will be clueless as to whatI am supposed to do. I have had experiences where my teacher says “Alright we aredoing a combo across the floor, I want you to do tambe, padubare, chasse, grand jete”,and sometimes I wont know what to do because it is too vague. Not only do I have toremember the combo that I was told, not shown, I also have to put it to music that eitherhas a fast or slow tempo, so sometimes its too vague. Language in dance has helpedserved as a medium between the choreographer and the dancers and can help the dancersexpress language through movement. We are always using body movement to expresslanguage even if the movement is holding a pose on stage.
WoK #2: PerceptionPerception is also another very important Way of Knowing that affects my learningexperience as a dance assistant as well as a dancer. Perception allows use to interpretwhat we have observed through our five senses. It enables us to structure our reality.Dance is an art form that allows us to see the world through different eyes. We are ableto create movements that allow us to express ourselves and we are given opportunitiesto watch professional dance companies and when they dance you can see that in everymovement they are grabbing the world around them and transforming it into art so thatthe audience can visually see. There are a lot of flaws with perception because it is sospecific to the individual that it is harder to find true knowledge.Interviewer: What are some problems you see with perception and dance?MELANIE: The hardest thing that I have with perception in dance is of the expectationsthat I have set for myself and what I think others have set for me. When I dance ballet orjazz, I picture what the people are watching me are seeing. But sometimes it is entirelydifferent than when I watch the recording of my dance. For example, when I haveperformed in duets or small ensembles in the past, I feel like I am doing my best on stagebut when I watch it, it is nothing like how I imagined the audience saw it.Interviewr: How does the selectivity of preception come into play with dance?Melanie: The problem of ‘selectivity of perception’ can be seen in the dancers I teach.They will listen and see what they want according to how they are feeling. They react towhat they want and how they want. When they dance, they pick out the moves that standsout to them and it is hard for me as a dance assistant to correct their movements, evenif they are a little bit off because it has become a habit for them. The most evident agegroup that this problem can be seen at is between the ages of 4-6. I can name at least twogirls in my classes that that this affects them the most. If they are in a good mood, theywill do their best to impress myself and the teacher, but if the teacher or myself gentlyscolds them, they feel offended and their mood shifts and they don’t feel like dancinganymore.As a performer and choreographer, selectivty of perception is always something to thinkabout. I dont want to have a group of 5 plus dancers on the stage and all doing somethingdifferent or else the audience wont be able to see the big picture and they start picking outthe things they like and focus on a particular person instead of the group.As a choreographer, I have images in my head of what dance steps I want to do but youdon’t want to make it too literal or else the audience will get bored and wont use theirimagination. For example, if I had a dance around the theme of ‘gestures’ I wouldnt wantto put in movements like waving my hands, i would want to come up with something
more abstract so that the audience will think out of the box and try to figure out what themovement is.WoK #3: EmotionWhether you are choreographing your own dance or you’re taught, itis your responsibility to put emotion in it. For every dance, there is achoreographer’s intent where they have themes that they want to expressthrough different emotions. Dancers use the primary emotions- happiness,sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust- as well as the dancers experimentwith other social emotions. The music itself has a mood that sets the tonefor the dance. The tone of the music plays off of the choreographer’s intent.I know that when I choreograph a dance I pick my emotion first then Ifind a song that sounds like that emotion so that the audience will get themessage behind the dance.Interviewer: As a dancer, are there times when emotions negativelyimpact performance?MELANIE: There are instances where emotions of the students do affecttheir performance. You can tell who the teacher’s favorites are in theclass and when we do critiques, the teacher mentions only a few mistakesthat they did, but when it comes to me (and other dancers) we are givena laundry list of what we need to work on. It’s not a problem to havecorrections but this is an example of emotional coloring.When the girls that I teach are not quiet and don’t listen to me, I do useemotive language, but not to the extent that will make them cry but enoughto get them to sit still and listen instead of doing cartwheels across thefloor.Interviewer: How does Yerkes-Dodson’s theory work? And how does itties in with dancing?MElanie: This is a performance theory where the more stress that is placedin a situation, the worse you perform. On the contrary it can be negativewhen you have low stress levels you also perform poorly. Your optimalperformance is when you have a perfect balance between stress andperformance. Before performances, backstage all the dancers wish each
other good luck which helps us to be excited and anxious. Also the fact thatthere is an audience, is nerve wrecking but when you are backstage witha team before a performance, it is comforting and helps us all perform atour best. I do have embarassing moments when my stress was too high fora performance, i totally froze on stage and it was really embarassig. But itjust teaches me to learn how to balance and control my stress before I goon stage.Emotion in dance is a key factor in not only performing but also your ownattitude in a dance class.Interviewer: What do you know about yourself that will change how you approachlearning in the future?Analysis of my approach to learning in the futureAfter going in depth into about the different studies of Theory of Knowledge I am able toapply the Ways of Knowing (language, perception, reason, and emotion) into how I learndance and how I teach dance. I can take what I have learned and expand it to more areasof my life, not just dance.In the future, I will be more aware of the limitations that come with life experiences.There will be times when I will need to judge a decision based on my emotions ratherthan my language and there will be times where my emotions are not a reliable source ofknowledge to confirm my decisions or opinions. This class has given me new insights onhow to base my knowledge off of, do I always follow the strict, Plato’s theory of K=JTBor will I be able to be a little more lenient on my decisions that maybe they don’t alwayshave to be a belief to make it knowledge, even if it’s a decision based on do I continuedancing in the future?With starting college next semester, I am able to be more cautious about the choices that Iwill make, especially since I will be on my own. The Yerkes-Dodson performance curveis probably what I will use most in my future as I continue to take dance classes as wellas learning how to balance my everyday life.