ERIC Identifier: ED348368
Publication Date: 1992-09-00
Author: Overby, Lynnette Young
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Teacher Education Washington DC.
Status of Dance in Education. ERIC Digest.
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.
RATIONALE FOR DANCE IN EDUCATION
Education in the arts has
been found to have a positive effect on both student motivation and academic
performance (Hanna, 1992). The AMERICA 2000 Arts Partnership recognizes dance in
its nationwide initiative to encourage arts education in the schools. As part of
the partnership, schools in Missouri, Nebraska, and California have initiated
dance components in their curriculums. U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar
Alexander recently commented on the formation of the Arts Partnership, "If I
were helping to rethink the curriculum of a school in my hometown, I would want
instruction in the arts to be available to every student...and integrated into
most of what we teach" (New arts, 1992).
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.
STATUS OF DANCE EDUCATION
At least 15 states have developed
dance curriculum guidelines, including California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho,
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, North Dakota,
South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin (Hilsendager, 1990). Except for North
Carolina, however, no states have mandates that the guidelines be implemented
(Gingrasso & Stinson, 1989).
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
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.
IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Dance is usually taught as a part of the
physical education curriculum. In a survey of 31 state departments of education,
89% of elementary school dance was taught by physical educators (DeBryn, 1988).
Secondary dance programs have been described as "understaffed, underfinanced,
and unapplauded" (Posey, 1988). A recent nationwide survey of secondary schools
found (a) the majority of dance classes are taught in physical education
departments, and (b) the styles of dance most frequently offered are aerobic
(45%), folk (11%), ballet (9%), social (8%), and creative or ethnic (7%)
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
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
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).
ISSUES IN DANCE EDUCATION
With the current emphasis on incorporating dance into the total
educational curriculum, professional preparation programs in dance will
undoubtedly have to expand from an exclusive emphasis on technique to a broader
perspective (Posey, 1988). Hilsendager (1990) estimates that fewer than 500 K-12
dance educators embrace the more comprehensive view of dance education.
Ten states have dance teacher certification (Georgia, Idaho,
Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin)
(Hilsendager, 1990). In states that have guidelines for dance education but no
certification, classroom teachers, physical educators, and even music
specialists may serve as dance teachers. No state requires a dance credential
for dance educators working in private studios.
IN DANCE EDUCATION
Multiculturalism should be acknowledged in the dance
education curriculum. Much of modern dance draws upon dances of other cultures,
and through a study of folk dance, an appreciation of the similarities and
distinctions of various cultures is also gained. Dance may be used as one of
many windows to the history, religions, and customs of people (Schwartz, 1991).
research can be used to demonstrate the strengths of a comprehensive dance
curriculum in addressing educational needs. Topics such as problem-solving
ability, self-concept, and holistic approaches to learning can be included in
the dance research agenda. Findings of such research could help build the case
for the inclusion of dance, as well as the other arts, in education.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; documents (ED) are available in ERIC
microfiche collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: 1-800-443-ERIC. For more
information, contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education, One Dupont
Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 293-2450.
Burke-Walker, D. (1989). An update on states' dance curricula: Idaho. Journal
of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 60(5), 40-41. EJ 398 439.
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
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.