Tag Archives: ipad

“Dances for an iPhone” – a gem of an app…

Name of the app: Dances for an iPhone 3 (a.k.a. iDances 3)

Cost: Free!

About the app: the app is a collection of choreographic works created especially for iPhones and iPads. This is the third episode of the app, and previous renditions are currently unavailable. Recently iDances 4 came out, which is dedicated to Stephen Sondheim. More info can be found at dancesforaniphone.com.

Possible classroom applications: The app offers a salient alternative for performance reviews. Students can select one of the dances and write about the work in their journal or answer a prompt for an essay. Since many of the dances are performed by NYC dance icons, it’s also a valuable addition to biographies of them. Some of these icons are Carmen de Lavallade, Risa Steinberg, Deborah Jowitt, and Janis Brenner.

Pros: These days youth is obsessed with mobile devices and technology. This is a terrific way to build on their interests! iDances 3 is a worthy alternative to live performances, and can be used as the basis of dialogic conversation, written essays, and comp study classes.

Cons: Dance-for-film is a terrific medium that can integrate everyday-life and the performing arts. It baffles me that the videos all have been filmed in dance studios. What’s stopping the makers of this app (Riachard Daniels a.o.) to venture out to the streets and perform the dances on interesting NYC locations? Last but not least, these dances expire after a while. iDances 1 is currently unavailable, and iDances 2 will disappear soon as well!

Rating: 3 out of 5

SaveFrom, a website creating downloadable Youtube videos

Name of the website: SaveFrom

Cost: Free!

About the website: the sole purpose of the website is to reformat web videos from Youtube into a downloadable format. After copying the link into a text box, the video can be uploaded to your portable or hard drive in WebM, MP4, FLV, 3GP (2 sizes), and audio MP4 format.

Possible classroom applications: many educational institutions have blocked video websites like YouTube. By using this web page educators can upload video texts off-site and use them during their lessons.

Pros: Providing students with video texts has become an essential aspect of contemporary American education. Using video enables ELLs and visual learners to deepen their understanding of the lesson material. This websites makes this a possibility.

Cons: The site (understandably) doesn’t work on subscription websites like Netflix and Amazon Prime which are often blocked in schools. SaveFrom also doesn’t work on Youtube alternatives like Vimeo.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Choreoloop

Name of the application: Choreoloop

Cost: Free!

About the app: the app is created for dance makers and is the perfect tool to loop music excerpts. Choreographers can custom-create a loop anywhere in a song, and practice their movement sequence. The app is also perfect for musicians that wish to practice a song excerpt.

Possible classroom applications: the app is perfect for rehearsing freshly taught movement phrases. Young dancers often learn through repetition and Choreoloop is a great way to practice a sequence without having to find a starting point in the track time and time again.

Pros: The app is easy to use and helps public school dance educators save valuable time during sessions. It’s the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it during any type of movement rehearsals.

Cons: The app works seamlessly with your iTunes library, but unfortunately can’t be used with other music apps like Spotify. Also, the iTunes search engine cannot be used through this app. Graphics look grainy when used on larger iPad screens.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Memory King!

Name of the application: Memory King

Cost: Free, with additional in-app purchases of $0.99 each

About the app: The app is an app version of the classic card game Memory. The platform is free, and there are many adaptions possible to tailor to diverse age groups and their corresponding needs. In settings you can fluctuate the number of card sets from 2 to 32 pairs, and the reveal time can also be adjusted from one second to five. The version offers memory cards of animals and toys, but decks can also be self-created by the user. There are additional decks available as an in-app purchase for $0.99 each. These decks are all highly educational, and consist out of numbers, letters, shapes, colors, fruits, and musical instruments.

The app functions on both the iPad and iPhone, and can be used for one or four players. Memory King has two “wild cards.” The first is Total Recall, which once more reveals the cards that have been turned in the game. Crystal Ball, the second “wild card,” shows all cards in the game. These two enticing cards can be omitted out of the game in the settings.

Possible classroom applications: The customization option of this game offers a great opportunity for educators to give their students a playful entry point to learn content-specific words. It could be applied in ELA classes, math units, and of course the arts! Yesterday, I created a card set of ballet terms that my dance students have learned over the last few weeks, and just had a first trial run with them. I linked the iPad to the smart-board, so the pictures looked bigger than on the iPad. The students loved the interactive aspect of the smart-board, and it was a playful way to reiterate key ballet definitions. Like in the real game, students take turns, and the child who wins the most (virtual) cards wins! I used laminated gold stars as a tangible substitute for each matching pair made.

Having a distinct knowledge of the ballet idiom is essential for every dance student, but since learning ballet jargon can be perceived as a tedious task for dance students, the game offered a covert way to get the proverbial job done! The game offers audio and visual hints offering support for ELLs and other children that need strong aural and visual supports. Again, the reveal time can also easily be adjusted. This, and the opportunity to adjust the number of cards make the game suitable for all age groups.

Lastly, it’s important to note that the game doesn’t only (covertly) build and reiterates the ballet (or other) vocabulary of the participants, but also aids in the overall retention skills.

Pros: The app can be adapted in many ways, which makes it a great tool for all ages. The number of decks, the reveal time, and presence of the “wild cards” can all be altered. Additionally, the audio and visual hints tailor to students varied intelligences (i.e., music, spatial, linguistic, kinesthetic).

Cons: Unfortunately, the created decks can’t be shared between different devices or between users.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Dot Dot Dot, an app by 2wice…

Name of the application: Dot Dot Dot

About the app:
Dot Dot Dot is an app that offers a maze of video dances filmed from various perspectives (i.e., bird’s-eye view, eye level). The user can switch perspectives by swiping the screen. This digital tablet platform features one male dancer that performs in a white world covered in red and black dots and pillars. Choreography is by NYC-based Tom Gold, who’s work is classical ballet based.

Dot Dot Dot is $0.99 and is worth every penny! It combines dance, music and interaction. When seeing the dance from above the app is interactive, and great fun for younger students. It was launched in 2013 by 2wice Arts Foundation.

Possible classroom applications:
The red and black dots seen on certain screens are reminiscent to spot markers often used for younger children. This offers a great opportunity for kids to connect to the dance on-screen. I plan on using this as a culminating event to an elementary school unit that plays with these dots, kinesphere, and general space. Students can compare and contrast their dances to the one offered in the video in a classroom discussion.

Pros:
The app offers countless screens that guarantees hours of classroom fun. It’s effective for younger students, and offers soothing and playful choreography and music. The app can be the basis of movement explorations, but also can offer a culminating event to a unit.

Cons:
I have so far not found any glitches or problems with this app, but will report if I do in the future.

Rating:
5 out of 5!! (Gold star, A++!!)

Passe-Partout, a NYCB app

Name of the application: Passe-Partout

About the app:
Passe-Partout is a pretty straight-forward app designed specifically for iPads. Five complementing dance solo’s and duets are layered with one another by the user, building on the notion of choreographing a dance. The choreography is by Justin Peck, who many people know as a soloist and Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet. The app is $0.99, and is designed by 2wice Arts Foundation.

Possible classroom applications:
The Passe-Partout app is great to use as part of units that focus on contemporary ballet, male ballet dancers, New York City Ballet, or elementary choreographic devices like unison, canon, or mirroring movement. The app can also be used in a unit based on the work of Justin Peck. This is a hot-topic since he just had his theatrical release of his dance documentary film Ballet 422.

Pros:
The app is a wonderful tool that highlights men-in-dance. In modern-day society this is rather important, especially in low-income areas like Hunts Point where I currently teach. Passe-Partout is perfect to use to illustrate choreographic devices on the smart-board, but make sure to only tap one of the colored tabs to make sure only one layer of the dance is showing.

Cons:
I initially had high hopes for this application, but was rather disappointed with the product. Besides the beautiful dancing, and choreography by Justin Peck, there’s not much to it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many layers the app offers, and can make students feel overwhelmed. It’s also not usable on smaller devices. The buttons are too close to one another, even for small children’s fingers.  Additionally, while creating the 2-dimensional dance, the user can’t pause the composition. Worst of all, the top bar that generally indicates time and battery power is invisible while in the app. When on older iPad models, the app also crashes and freezes. Not good when you’re in the middle of a 40-minute lesson!

Rating:
1 out of 5 (A two thumbs down… A rotten tomato… A Vaudeville hook yanking Peck off the stage!)

Fifth Wall: an App With a Myriad of Applications

Name of the application: Fifth Wall

About the app:
Fifth Wall is an app designed specifically for iPads that explores possible connections between choreography and technology. The app is a platform in which four to five squares, that feature a “trapped dancer,” can be mixed. There are three basic ways to combine the screens from which users then can rearrange new compositions. Fifth Wall was produced by 2wice Arts Foundation in 2012, and costs $0.99 .

Possible classroom applications:
I used Fifth Wall during a unit that focus on Laban concepts of space. Many students found the app fun! That said, Fifth Wall will hopefully draw the class into the academically drier concepts of Laban Movement Analysis. The app can also be applied to introduce movement devising. I have used this app, asking students to create a movement phrase on the floor based on the dance offered in the app. The assignment was successful, but feel this mainly happened because students were proficient in devising movement.

Pros:
The app fun to use, and will easily pull in your students. It’s a great way to trick your class into devising movement, even when they’re new to this.

Cons:
Fifth Wall is hard to use on smaller devices, and in order for assignments to stay student-centered, you need a few devices to make it work. Since the app is $0.99, it’s difficult to ask students to download the app, and spend their money. Not to mention, if they have smart phones, their parents or caretakers will most likely will have to pay. Moreover, creating compositions is extremely difficult on smaller devices, since you have to tap outside of the boxes to see the menu bar. This also has proven to be problematic on the iPad for elementary school students with small motor skill challenges.

Rating:
2.5 out of 5

2wice – Great Supporting App for Cunningham Units

Name of the application: 2wice

About the app:
2wice is the perfect app for units based on the work of Merce Cunningham, and features a series of photos and videos of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company taken between 2001 and 2011. The app is completely free, and also provides the user with several interview that provide insight into Cunningham’s unique creative process. 2wice is developed by Rubenstein Technology Group, and developed by 2wice Arts Foundation.

Possible classroom applications:
2wice can be used in lessons interactively through iPads, iPods, or iPhones. The platform is created specifically for iPad, but, since the only actions needed for the app are swipe or tap, it’s easy to use on smaller devices. An alternative is projecting the app on the smart-board. Students can copy the body shapes featured in the app, and combine them during introductory unit assignments. From there the class could progress to devising dance phrases through the “I Ching” (find an online version for lessons here!) or other chance methods like dice. The videos of the app also offer rare footage that give voice to Cunningham dancers. This gives students the opportunity to identify with the intricacies of being a professional dancer.

Pros:
Firstly, the app is free, which makes it accessible for all students. The app is user-friendly, so can easily be used for elementary students. Only actions needed are tap or swipe. 2wice also has a succinct biography of Merce Cunningham included. It’s also possible to “like” specific images within the app, which allow for student-dancers and educators to retrieve the photos quickly. In short, I discovered a myriad of pros to use this app.

Cons:
The three videos in the app stream directly. Fast-forwarding, rewinding, or pausing the video is not possible. This is particularly challenging if you’d like to have a brief class share while sharing the footage.

Rating:
4 out of 5

Pinterest!

Name of the application: Pinterest

About the app:
Pinterest is most likely not the first app you think about when looking for educational dance resources, but it has proven to be an extremely helpful resource over the past months to me. As many of you probably know, Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool that exists in website and app format.

Possible classroom applications:
Pinterest is a great resource to search for rubrics, explore classroom management or lesson plan ideas, discover ways to differentiate lessons, and find acrostics or photos to post in your classroom. There are endless topics one can research in dance education. Additionally, middle and high school students could use this app as part of  research projects.

Pros:
The app is free to use, and to see content you don’t need an account. Also, it’s easy to create a board (a group of images, videos, or websites) to send to students’ email addresses. This will provide the class with a specific bank of research material.

Cons:
The app and website don’t offer safety features that block sexually explicit content, therefore it’s essential to monitor usage for students during classroom activities. Also, when connected to other social network sites, it’s easy to be distracted by people’s posts.

Rating:
3 out of 5

Great app to connect Dance to ELA: Dance Writer!

My first unit plan for a recent set of students in the Bronx focused on devising movement. Since many students never had dance before being in my classroom, I wanted to create an experience that made them feel accomplished while building on their prior knowledge. Many of these students had expressed their passion for ELA and mobile devices during my initial assessment of their interests, so for my first few lessons I focused on connecting dance to writing words in both cursive as well as typed font.

I found a terrific app that provided my pupils with confidence and excitement. The app, called Dance Writer, is an easy-to-use app designed by Typotheque that functions on both iPad and iPhone platforms. Simply put, the app converts text into a choreographed sequence of poses based on the shapes of the letters, enabling users to send animated messages to their friends via email, or just enjoy the graceful movement on their own displays.

The app has limitations, and only can change fourteen characters at a time into movement. A second less exciting aspect is the fact that the virtual dancer returns to the neutral position after each executed letter. Conversely, this could provide the class with a worthy scaffolding opportunity into choreographing their own transitions between “movement letters.”

The app costs $2.99, and is definitely worth every penny. If you’re not convinced, or just wish to use it on a less frequent basis, you can also use the application online by clicking here. This free online version allows more than fourteen characters at a time, and offers the user to make changes while the letters are being executed. The online platform is also the best way to use the application on your smart-board.

I give Dance Writer 4 out of 5 stars, since it provided my students with an interesting and enriching experience. This app has a lot of potential, but should definitely be cheaper than the offered price, especially considering it’s offered for free online.