Dance is an art form characterized by use of the human body as a vehicle of expression. Dance has been described as "an exciting and vibrant art which can be used in the educational setting to assist the growth of the student and to unify the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the human being." (Dance Directions, 1988). Dance is immediately accessible for most people--no special equipment is needed, just the ability to move.
Until recently, dance was taught mainly as an activity included in the physical education curriculum. It is now recognized as an art form comparable to music, drama, and the visual arts, and equally worthy of study (Carter, 1984). Nevertheless, it has been observed that, of all the art forms, dance is experienced the least (Dimondstein, 1990).
This Digest examines the rationale for dance in education, the status of dance education, and selected issues in dance education.
Dance education programs include opportunities for the development of:
* Critical thinking and analytical skills;
* Cooperation and teamwork;
* Self-expression and self-esteem;
* Organization and problem solving;
* Cultural literacy; and
* Communicating emotions through movement.
Many of the curriculum guides contain specific content, goals, objectives, and limited measurable outcomes for such areas as:
* Dance techniques for social, modern, and ethnic dance;
* Aesthetic perception;
* Kinesthetic sense;
* Creative expression;
* Choreography; and
* Dance criticism.
For example, Michigan Dance Education Guidelines (Michigan State Board, 1987) include outcomes concerned with specific dance technique/vocabulary; specific historical and cultural information; production of unique, creative, and expressive dance studies; analyses and critical examination of professional and peer performances; and recognition of the relationship of dance to the other arts.
Dance elements can also be integrated into other subject areas, which may increase the likelihood of dance being included in the school curriculum (Burke-Walker, 1989). Hanna (1992) provides an example of a physics class in which principles of momentum, force, velocity, and energy are applied to dance to improve dance performance. Franke (1989) identifies connections between writing, tennis, and dance.
DANCE IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Magnet schools, model programs, and collaborative efforts A number of magnet programs are located throughout the country. These schools serve children drawn throughout a city or school district because of their special interest or ability (Kraus, Hilsendager, & Dixon, 1991).
In several large cities, specialized high schools have been established to meet the needs of gifted dance students. The High School for the Performing Arts in New York City and the Duke Ellington High School for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. are schools which have provided exceptional training for many future performers.
The Interrelated ARTS program in the Montgomery County, Maryland, public schools is based on Howard Gardner s theory of multiple intelligences (1983), which suggests many linkages with the arts. The Interrelated ARTS teacher goes to the classroom to work with students on curriculum objectives in language arts, social studies, science, or mathematics, taught through use of various art forms, including dance (Weincek & Richardson, 1991). Arts Connection, a New York City-based organization, developed a middle school/junior high school curriculum called "Dance: A Social Study." Funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities, this curriculum included 40 lessons on Black dance in the Americas, facets of Latin American/Caribbean dance, and Native American dance (McLaughlin, 1988).
Collaborations also exist between professional dance companies and public schools. Two examples include the San Francisco Ballet program, which includes ballet company members and dance educators, and the Boston Ballet Company's South End Community Dance Project (McLaughlin, 1988).
MULTICULTURALISM IN DANCE EDUCATION
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Carter, L. C. (1984). The state of dance in education: Past and present. Theory Into Practice, 23(4), 293-299.
Dance directions: 1990 and beyond. (1988). Reston, VA: National Dance Association.
DeBryn, M. (1988). Discovering the needs of K-6 dance education. Holland, MI: Faculty Grant, Hope College.
Dimondstein, G. (1990). Moving in the real and feeling worlds: A rationale for dance in education. In A. S. Akins & J. LaPointe-Crump (Eds.), Encores II: Travels through the spectrum of dance (pp. 48-50). Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. ED 325 460.
Franke, J. S. (1989). Coaching, dancing, and writing: Parallel skills. Teaching English in the two-year college, 16(4), 274-279. EJ 405 034
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
Gingrasso, S. H., & Stinson, S. (1989). Dance dynamics. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 60(5), 31-60. EJ 398 439
Hanna, J. L. (1992). Connections: Arts, academics, and productive citizens. Phi Delta Kappan, 73(8), 601-607.
Hilsendager, S. (1990). In transition--American dance education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 61(2), 47,49,51. EJ 407 881.
Kraus, R., Hilsendager, S., & Dixon, B. (1991). History of the dance in art and education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
McLaughlin, J. (1988). A stepchild comes of age. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 59(9), 58-64.
Michigan State Board of Education. (1987). Michigan K-12 program standards of quality. In The Dance Education Program (pp. 31-33). Lansing, MI: Author.
New arts partnership to support AMERICA 2000 communities. (May 4, 1992). America 2000, p. 1.
Pappalardo, M. (1990). Survey of dance in grades 7 thru 12. Unpublished manuscript prepared for the National Dance Association, Reston, VA.
Posey, E. (1988). Discipline-based arts education--Developing a dance curriculum. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 59(9), 61-64. EJ 393 013
Schwartz, P. (1991). Multicultural dance education in today's curriculum. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 62, 45-48.
Weincek, B., & Richardson, A. (1991). The Interrelated ARTS program: Making arts connections with the basics. In L. Overby (Ed.), Early childhood creative arts (pp. 183-190). Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.