The Future of Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Encouraging the Acquisition of Transferable Lifelong Learning Skills in a Hybrid Pre-vocational Ballet Classroom: Blurring Boundaries Between the Traditional and Student-centered Democratic Pedagogy

Tina Zubovic, Primary School for Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance at Primary School Vezica (Croatia)


Interrogating some of the legacies of classical ballet, such as its traditional teaching methods and values, it was found that the authoritarian pedagogical style that uses drill and repetition to train the dancer is a common practice among ballet teachers, including the normalization of power imbalances in the classroom. My intervention with ‘tradition’ explores the ballet studio as the site in which by development and the application of democratically-oriented pedagogy and student-centred learning and teaching methods in the ballet classroom, the educational aspect of ballet education is celebrated. Through the research project that underpinned this article it was found that by incorporating collaborative activities, multiple ways of learning, and student active participation in the co-construction of knowledge, opportunities for the acquisition of transferable lifelong learning skills were provided. Students were encouraged to be more reflective, inquisitive, and creative thinkers. Finally, I argue that this enhanced approach to learning and teaching in ballet supports pupils to become well-rounded, active, responsible, and self-reliant dancers.

While there is a body of literature that considers the theory of democratic pedagogy and student-centred teaching and learning approaches, there is significantly less literature that specifically addresses the ways in which primary school ballet teachers attempt to apply this methods in practice. This paper presents the results from an action-based research that was designed, in part, to address this gap. Five female students, ages twelve and thirteen, from a state-run pre-vocational ballet school in Croatia participated in this qualitative research study. It has been found that the role of ballet education is not only to learn a codified set of steps through ‘traditional’ pedagogy, but to foster an acquisition of transferable lifelong learning skills in order to meet 21st-century expectations for students' learning.

The traditional teacher-centred/didactic approach to ballet pedagogy was disturbed and extended by post-colonial ways of thinking. An ‘in-between’, ‘hybrid’ classroom space that connects the tradition and past with the present and the future was generated through this project. Such an alternative classroom environment stands for new opportunities for learning and meaningful teacher–student relationships. I suggest that through the process of negotiation across differences between traditional and student-centred approaches in a hybrid classroom, it is possible to refashion ballet education to overcome the contradictions and tensions that exist in the traditional ballet studio.


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