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Capturing Creativity

North Carolina Dance Theatre partnered with the Dance and Theatre Department of UNC Charlotte and the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Schools to explore and define the creative process in dance. The partnership was formed in order to explore ways to create more sophisticated curriculum resources in dance for a growing number of dance educators teaching in the public schools of North Carolina.

An underlying goal of the creators of "Capturing Creativity" is to change the "norm" of how the creative process in dance is taught in schools by analyzing concrete, tangible examples of work that is being created now. Traditionally, dance composition teachers deconstruct already completed works and speculate about the choreographic processes used.
The method for analyzing choreography used for these units begins with the work’s inception and follows the process to the completed piece and its premiere performance. The process of creation is observed as it evolves with the developing work. In the future, it is hoped that these units will enrich and add to the dance knowledge base in the field of dance education.

These lessons are designed as guides for the dance educator and are open to revision and interpretation as needed for maximum student learning. The activities provided here are by no means the only way to teach the material. They serve as a template to guide the lesson writing of those talented dance educators wishing additional resources for their classrooms. The lesson units have been field tested by dance teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, and by students at UNC Charlotte preparing to receive dance teacher licensure. All provided valuable input into the existing lessons.

Capturing Creativity Units: (click the unit for more information)
Energy: The Texture in Between
Preserving Legacy
Cinderella: Linking Past to Present
Forward Moves: On the Verge
Agon: Hearing the Dancing, Seeing the Music

Ordering Information
Each of the Capturing Creativity units is available to Dance Educators in North Carolina directly through NC Dance Theatre. The cost for each unit, including the book of lesson plans, teacher’s notes, and assessments and the accompanying VHS video is $100. When a Capturing Creativity unit is used as part of a DEEP workshop, it is available to all workshop participants for $35.

Please use the Capturing Creativity order form to place your order or email Bianca Morgan for more information.


Energy: The Texture in Between - Appropriate for Elementary-High School

In 1999, Alonzo King created a new work, Dreamer, for NC Dance Theatre a beautiful and popular piece of classical music by Alan Hovhannes called Mysterious Mountain. The work is inspired by the music but with a separate theme. Alonzo King uses the Hindu school of thought as a point of departure and a metaphor for the process of artistic creation.

He chose a teaching from a Hindu belief that states the world exists in equilibrium between three "gunas" or categories of existence. These natural forces are personified in the dance and each human motivator is given a dynamic movement quality that defines the attribute of the "guna."
Energy, or the "texture in between," as Alonzo King explains it, is the motivator of this work. Each movement was defined first in energy, then in shape and lastly/finally by technique. This unit of lesson plans was developed based upon the motivation for the ballet and deals with defining and understanding energy and its role in human self-actualization.

In the video accompanying these lessons, there are several introductory examples of Alonzo King as he describes how he wishes the dancers to use their energy. Teachers may use these pre-lesson examples to inform students of the specific way Alonzo King is interpreting the concept of energy. He is a choreographer using ballet vocabulary who, for the purposes of his new work, used specific energy qualities to define the different characters in the ballet.

Dreamer by choreographer Alonzo King

Excerpt from Capturing Creativity Curriculum unit, Energy: The Texture in Between


Preserving Legacy - Appropriate for Elementary Students

Preserving Legacy continues the work of the Capturing Creativity Project that explores the choreographic process by documenting the operations of choreographers creating work for NC Dance Theatre.

From the research in the Preserving Legacy volume, lesson plans for public school students were written based on specific methods of preserving and reconstructing work and documents the process of reconstructing and coaching.

Aiello’s ballet The Bells is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem of the same name and set to the choral symphony composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff using a transliteration of the poem’s Russian translation.

The integration of dance, music and literature made for a wonderful masterwork for children to explore. The movement activities of the 11 lessons are designed to make children aware of the very valuable necessity of preserving dance and of how dance works are re-taught and learned by the next generation of dancers.

The unit was prepared with grant funding from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Cultural Education Collaborative and Osprey. It is the result of a unique partnership between NC Dance Theatre, UNC Charlotte, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
These lessons are currently being tested by and made available to public school teachers throughout North Carolina.


Cinderella: Linking Past to Present - Appropriate for Elementary Students

The Cinderella Capturing Creativity Unit links the origin of the art form of ballet from its roots in French court-life, to a contemporary staging of the French fairy tale Cinderella as a new ballet. Cinderella was conceived and directed by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School in the French tradition, for NC Dance Theatre in 2001.

Students will relate the problem solving activities in the unit with their own developing movement skill and will explore movement and terminology specific to ballet. As the unit progresses, students will learn and explore how to use narrative literature as a basis for creating a dance work. 

Students will do research about ballet as well as explore how characters are developed in movement. Students will analyze comedic forms of movement and note what makes a gesture funny. The unit concludes with the creation an original ballet from stories of students' own choosing.


Forward Moves: On the Verge -Appropriate for Middle and High School Students

In this unit, students watch a contemporary ballet, Verge, being rehearsed by its choreographer, Dwight Rhoden.

During the course of the twelve separate lessons, basic dance concepts as defined by the National Dance Standards are presented as Mr. Rhoden references them in his masterwork.

Linkages to core curriculum subjects such as language arts, math, and science are also made in the separate lessons, where appropriate. The work was created for NC Dance Theatre and premiered in 2002.

Agon: Hearing the Dancing, Seeing the Music - Appropriate for Middle and High School Students

In this unit, students watch the masterwork, Agon being staged by Patricia McBride, a ballerina and former Principal Dancer in Balanchine’s company, the New York City Ballet. During the course of ten separate lessons, the dance concept of time as defined by the relationship of the dance to its musical accompaniment is explored. Mr. Balanchine, a musician himself, in collaboration with Igor Stravinsky created the perfect marriage of music and dance in the twenty minute masterpiece, Agon.  First premiered in 1957, Agon still contains challenges for current dancers and masterful choreography that engages audiences of today. The work was staged for North Carolina Dance Theatre in 2004 as a part of the tribute to Balanchine’s one hundredth birthday celebrations.

Students will also relate the problem solving activities in the unit with their own developing movement skill; such efforts could result in original student choreography for performance inspired by the masterwork.