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Intro to Choreography in Dance Education: A Process to Teach Students How to Create Dances

Dancers in all black performing on a stage with a purple background

Professor: Marty Sprague

Tuition: $310 member / $385 non-member

6 Weeks; 1.5 NDEO-Endorsed PDCs

This course offers participants experience with a system that can be used to teach basic elements and principles of choreography and explores how to encourage self-expression through dance making. Many dancers have not formally studied the art of choreography. Perhaps someone is experienced in making dances but now wants support learning how to teach others. How does the studio teacher, or performing arts center instructor, teach the choreographic process to young performers? How does the education director of a dance company structure dance-making activities within school residencies? How does one teach pre- and in-service teachers, or instructors in community recreational programs, how to teach this process to students with little or no dance experience? In this course, participants will walk through, or model, a process that they can use to teach students how to create their own choreography. The course text is actually a student textbook and so it will be a small “leap” from course participation to application of this methodology in one’s teaching practice. Peer discussions, journal reflections and reflective essays will help in this application.

Book Required: Experiencing Dance: from Student to Dance Artist by Helene Scheff, Marty Sprague, and Susan McGreevy-Nichols. (2nd Edition). Can be ordered from Human Kinetics, Hardcover or e-book available, both with online materials – be sure to request access to the online materials.

Questions about this course? Send an email to

Past Student Testimonials

"The course was valuable to me because not only did I learn a lot through the process, but it will be very easy to transfer the 7 step process to teaching choreography to my students. It made me think about the choices I make and why I make them while choreographing."

"This course really addressed the artist within and reminded me why I am passionate about not just teaching, but dance as an art form. By going through the choreography process myself, it inspired me to see how much my own students could benefit from being guided through the process. I really love the experience and wisdom of Professor Sprague and all she has to offer."

"I learned a lot from this class and I was challenged to make my choreographic process better and more efficient. I liked the discussion boards and the peer feedback given and taken. This helped us see and develop our choreography and make it better."

"I now have an arsenal of rubrics to choose from and I loved the reflection portion of this course and each individual week's assignment. I also found the peer discussion incredibly helpful."

"I feel I have a better understanding of a different method of choreographing and how to present this process to my students. The content in this course was excellent and beneficial to me personally. My students are quite beginner and the content seemed a bit more advanced. I'd need to break things down and give things in stages."

"This course was very beneficial in learning new ways to approaching teaching choreography to beginning students. Although I struggled to keep up with the assignments, I found them extremely beneficial and in particular by placing me into the student choreographer role. It also showed me new ways to organize and offer supportive prompts to get students to respond, analyze, and reflect on their own and their peers' work. I am very appreciative to be able for this course."

Professor Bio


Marty Sprague has over 45 years of experience in dance education (early childhood through higher education), holds an MA, in Dance Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BFA in Dance from Boston Conservatory. She has been involved in program, curriculum, professional, and policy development. She has written and reviewed standards at the district, state and national levels. Marty is co-author, with Helene Scheff and Susan McGreevy-Nichols, of six dance text and resource books (including online content for the textbook). Marty has served on the editorial board for Arts Education Policy Review and JODE. She served on the Dance Writing Team for the NCCAS Dance Standards. Currently, Marty is a course writer and an instructor for NDEO’s OPDI, a Moving For Life Certified Instructor (pending), and is President of Dance Alliance of RI. She has joined the Rhode Island Arts and Health Network Steering Committee to advance the role of Arts in the well-being of all Rhode Islanders. Marty teaches OPDI-112 Implementing the National Core Arts Standards in Dance; OPDI-115: Dance Integration: Re-envisioning the Creative Process; OPDI-M13: Modern Dance Theory and Composition; OPDI-M18: Intro to Choreography in Dance Education: A Process to Teach Students How to Create Dances, and OPDI-M19: Dance Stagecraft and Production.

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