Drawing ‘Me Dancing’: Children’s images of engagement and identity formation through movement and dance

Year: 2016

Author: Bennett, Rosemary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Young children’s understanding of school based performing arts classes is demonstrated by their participation in activities, such as moving to music, dancing, playing, singing and improvising within groups or individually. Children can be asked to speak or write about their movement and dance making, but for younger children it may be easier to reveal their thoughts through drawings. Increasingly arts education researchers are analysing drawings of performing arts engagement by children. Experiential and embodied learning through the performing arts is an area of interest to arts-based researchers and arts educators alike. Two classes of Year 3-4 students (aged 8-10 years) at a suburban primary school in Melbourne, Australia were asked to produce a drawing entitled “Me Dancing” in an empty frame. They then participated in an open-ended interview, discussing their drawing and explaining their involvement in movement and dance. These primary students were selected as a sample group because they had experienced classroom performing arts such as movement and music for four years and were involved in the performing arts activities associated with their regular classroom curriculum and school performing program. The drawings were analysed in different ways. They shine a spotlight on the early formation of creative identity and offer a revealing insight into young students’ experience in their physical and embodied learning environment and their perceptions of movement and dance that can inform educators.