Monday, 28 May 2018

It’s here!

Well, it’s finally here, presentation day! Waking up at the crack of dawn I’m trying to convince myself it’s because the bed isn’t so comfy and it’s not because I’m starting to get nervous. This is what I’ve been waiting for, to share my research with everybody, but why do I feel like I’ve shot back into the past waiting to go into an exam? Isn’t association incredible? I’ve been trying over this term to separate and place my dance career with different types of association (popping it into boxes). For example, this course does not belong to my past or education, it’s place is now and in the future. Therefore, having new feelings and emotions.

I’ve enjoyed doing my research and I have learnt so much it’s an eye-opener to me, so why am I getting in a state. Last night I was faffing around, what should I wear, should I have glasses or contacts etc? I finally realised what I was doing and told myself to stop (with a smile!). This isn’t an exam where I’m trying to get an “Honours”, I don’t have to proof to anyone that I’m a good dancer or teacher. This has all been for me and it has indeed been worth it.

I don’t know where this journey will take me in the future, but I do know that it has been more than just about my practice. It’s helped me make sense of things that I couldn’t understand before. I only have one regret and that is I wished I had discovered it before!

I wish everybody doing presentations the best of luck in the next two days, and for Modules 1’s and 2’s, enjoy it!


Thursday, 10 May 2018


I have been feeling recently like I’m running a race but am not moving, does anybody else know that feeling? Whilst I have my plan for this module having on the wall in front of me, I seem to be asking myself where has the time gone? This inevitably makes me reflect on my working life and the people that have come and gone in the thirty-something years. After receiving some news this week, I’ve been debating what is important to me? How important is this MA and in the long-run  what will it give me? Well, so far it’s given me more than I bargained for.

A couple of events whilst I’ve been studying has made me see other points of views so much clearer than I did before, and where I fit into the picture. Time seems to be a keyword that keeps coming back to me. Time before, time now, time in the future, time to do my work, time to reflect and time to breath…..

As I’m coming to the end of this journey and I know a new one will begin soon, I can only finish this post (which really is just from my heart) with what I’ve been thinking about most of the day, and that is time will tell!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Who am I?

Talking to a friend of mine recently who was a ballet teacher for many years, we started talking about identities. At nearly the age of 50, she became a Primary school teacher, giving up dance that she had loved so much. I asked her “how was that transition”, which she replied, “no problem, I never thought about it!”. Her “say it as it is” answer made me think of my identities both as a professional and my personal identity.

I have always tried to separate my professional life from my personal life, but I have to say that I think the two have been somewhat merged together in recent years. I wonder why this is?  I’ve concluded that like life, my professional practice has gone through various phases. How I defined my job and what was expected of me 25 years ago has not been the same in recent years. More experience, getting older, and becoming a mother (later in life) has changed me. Developments in social media have also influenced the gap. Students who use Facebook as a communication tool, (even though they know that I will not “friend” them while they are my students) seems to be normal in these times. My work and private life don’t have the separation they once had.

I seemed to have clearer boundaries some years ago of who I was at work and who I was outside of work. I’m thinking that unconsciously how I have defined my job has changed. Slowly my view that I was there “only to teach dance” has altered, today, there is more personal investment in my work.

Topics that once were never talked about openly, various problems, divorced parents, puberty and bullying have influenced how I look at and treat my pupils. It appears I have taken on a different role today. That leads me to a new thought, what is a professional dance teacher today? Can I show my feelings, hug a child without crossing the line of being unprofessional?

I’ve noticed too, how much more open I am about my thought processes and how I involve/ask my students things which I never would have before. Although I would love to say it’s all because I practice inclusive teaching, really I’ve noticed how difficult it is for me to make decisions in later years. Has that rubbed off on my teaching because:

a)     I’m unsure of what I should be teaching?
b)     to keep the pupils happy (in order to have no complaints)?
c)     because I want to be seen as a kind, generous teacher and therefore keep up the numbers in my classes?

I don’t know and I’m sorry if this is a ramble. I just felt like sharing it with you all and wonder if anybody has any thoughts?


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Enjoying the Reading!

Finding literature for my Research Inquiry in Module Two, I wondered if I was going to have difficulty finding enough literature for my Critical Inquiry in Module Three. I struggled to find what I thought at that time, was appropriate reading. I searched through data bases, the library where I am employed, endless Dance Journals and yet, I couldn’t find anything about my particular topic.

This I remember, excited me and frightened me. I was excited to think that the topic had not be written about before (although I did ask why?), and frightened because what if I couldn’t find enough relevant material. I allocated a lot of time in Module Two to the literature list, convinced that my inquiry was going to follow a certain path. I felt a little flustered wondering if I had chosen a difficult topic to write about.

Completing Module Two I found myself immersed in reading, I was totally absorbed. The summer holiday was filled with gathering new exciting information that I had seemed to miss (over the years!). One interesting article led to another, and another and another. Yes, of course I got completely off my subject (or did I?). I felt the blinkers were slowly being removed and questions were being asked. I read articles that before, never would have interested me. Did I have an interest in them now because I’m older, wiser (!), or has this study revived something I’ve slowly been losing, namely passion?

Reading material which resonated with my beliefs and practice were interesting reads, but the material about teaching ballet (and dance in general), for today’s students really had me thinking. I began recapping the various courses I have attended over my teaching career, and it came as no surprise that they were based on my practice. Courses about a new syllabus, how to teach technique, and how to teach boys etc, were the norm. Courses that incorporated newer thoughts and ideas of the teaching of ballet or maybe of what is required today of a dance teacher, never made my list.

That discovery started the ball rolling so to speak, as I started feeling a bit more confident to try different approaches to my teaching in Module Three. More importantly I was not afraid to be unsuccessful or disappointed. I never imagined that reading would have such a strong impact as it did. Totally enjoyable!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Objectivity and Subjectivity

Although I understand perfectly the definitions for objectivity and subjectivity, I nevertheless seem to come across difficulty when trying to understand these concepts in my writing. I find myself asking “is that objective or subjective?”.  It sometimes, is a struggle to differentiate between the two, I feel quite challenged. I’m also wondering if I can be subjective at all in my writing? I’m confused as I’m uncertain where the line is between the two. For the Critical Inquiry, the handbook states that we can share our experiences about the data collection and that is the most narrative part. Yet, this is an academic paper where as I gather from my bit of research and ethical conditions, I should be more objective. Subjectivity can bias the researcher. I try to put my emotions aside and state the facts, but I feel I lose the flow of the essay. Maybe, subjectivity is in many levels and I don’t need to lay my heart on my sleeve, so to speak.

Writing the various essays throughout the models I’ve come to realise that I write how I speak. I’ve tried to work on that aspect, saying what I need to say in fewer words. Getting to the point quicker, is an ongoing effort! I have to admit that this personality trait has been reflected in my teaching the past few years. I don’t know if I got into the habit of repeating myself to make a point, or because I wondered if my pupils had trouble understanding me (I speak Norwegian but with a distinctive British accent).

Today I’ve spent time trying to find ways to improve my academic writing (and stopping my head from spinning at a very fast rate!). Using objective and subjective language and the use of grammar is something I’ve not recognised. 

If anybody is interested here is a link I’ve found which may be of some help:


Monday, 2 April 2018

Reflection, what a tool!

Sitting down at my desk, trying to begin writing my Critical Inquiry, I wondered if what I was experiencing was writer’s block. I just couldn’t get started, and I had no idea why. I have had plenty of time to work on Module Three (I deferred a term,) but I feel so anxious. Seven essays written, you would think I was getting the hang of it by now wouldn’t you? I’ve done my research on writing at this level, I’m getting the hang of writing academic papers in relation to citations and writing literature lists etc, but I couldn’t get started for the life of me.

So, what did I do? Reflect of course! I don’t think I’m completely alone when I say that learning about writing academic papers has been a challenge, but I realised that it goes deeper than that. Once again, it goes way back to my student days. With little emphasis on academic qualifications at the school I attended, in my head I have divided the two. I chose to be a dancer and I couldn’t be intelligent at the same time. I can remember when I went to university for the first time in 2005 and stated to the lecturer that “I was just a dancer”, like that was an excuse for me being there. It also is an insult to all dancers, teachers, choreographers placing everybody in the same box as me.

I have had the perception for years, that anyone working for a masters degree is super clever. Again, I needed to resort to reflection for that to come to the surface. Goodness, the power of reflection!
Now, I’ve started writing but the insecurities are still there. Is it good enough? Am I doing what the module handbook states? The questions never end, but I’m now determined that I’m going to enjoy this process.

Good luck to everyone who is busy writing!


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

What was my aim?

The past week I met an ex-pupil, overjoyed to see her, we exchanged hugs and started a conversation. It’s over 12 years since I taught her, but the conversation flowed, and it was like we were back in the past. She started talking about her dance classes with me and finished the conversation with “I only danced for fun, but you knew that!”. Well, actually no I didn’t. I started thinking about (or over-analysing!) her words. Why did she presume I knew that? I couldn’t help but think have I approached students differently. I began wondering what have I aimed for in my teaching? I’ve never thought about that before. Is it to educate dance students to be professional dancers/teachers/choreographers or is it to provide them with a positive experience of dance and ensure the next generation of dance-lovers? I’m sure that when starting my career, I taught them thinking that they were all going to be professionals, silly really when I was teaching at a recreational school in the Artic Circle! The past years where I no longer enter pupils for exams seemed to change my attitude, allowing me to relax and give me more say in my teaching. It appears the shift took place here. I think I was probably being more realistic of how many pupils took dance classes for fun. Still, some pupils have continued into the profession. I hope that my pupils haven’t felt discrimination based on their reasons for dancing. I’ve always strived to be fair in my classes as the outcomes if not can be damaging. I do hope I’ve managed that.