Merce Cunningham was considered innovative by setting movement phrases in sections that could be interchanged each night into different orders by the roll of dice. John Cage credited himself for silence as the music for one of Cunningham's dances. Was Paul Taylor considered innovative or a hack when he later set a work to silence?
Choreographers who set movement to spoken word were once hailed as creative. Innovation then meant film or slides were used during a dance, perhaps even marrying the work onstage with video footage or animated work on a screen. Pole dancing was never elevated to serious dance until the acrobatic marriage of scarves, ropes, trampolines and other circus props were woven into the stories told in movement by Cirque du Soleil. But then again Fred Astaire was deemed a genius for using many different props such as newspaper or fireworks to accompany or enhance the sounds and rhythms of his footwork. Tap dancing on roller skates was a novelty. Now Cirque du Soleil and shows such as Starlight Express exploit the use of roller skates or roller blades. These ideas are not new but may not have been seen by younger generations.
So how do we be innovative in teaching dance? To teach dance forms such as ballet or tap dance require basic, fundamental understanding of movement skills/language. Repetition and immersion are the most often used forms of teaching dance. Do students truly understand how and why steps are done certain ways? Are teachers doing students a disservice by not explaining in detail the why, how, and meaning of movement? Are mirrors necessary? Does music enhance or take away from the learning process? How do we as teachers make class invigorating and exciting every time for both the students and ourselves? Do young and mature students learn the same way or do we modify our expectations based on assumptions? Should this remain the same or change?
But back to the question of innovation in teaching dance. Using flashcards and white boards to learn vocabulary in only useful when students find it interesting. Would integrating video excerpts of Angelina Ballerina during a class for young students be acceptable or considered a waste of time by the parents? Seemingly this might actually make the steps or exercises more relevant to the youth even for those students who do not train in the RAD syllabus.
Does using models for artists with moving parts to demonstrate basic positions or mechanics of leaps and turns mean the instructor is lazy or innovative. Perception plays a role in how we see creativity and innovation as being new or enhancing something from the past. The wheel has been created. How many ways can a knee bend be made exciting?