Jody Gottfried Arnhold Takes Dance Education to the Next Level

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of witnessing exciting news in dance education. Teachers College at Columbia University is launching a new doctoral program in dance education to begin fall 2017, thanks to a $4.36 million gift from Jody Gottfried Arnhold and her husband John. The news was announced at a luncheon at the school.

When I arrived, I could feel the excitement as teachers, administrators and advocates from TC and other New York cultural institutions greeted one another. I was happy to see some familiar faces: Kathleen Isaac, a 2016 DT awardee and director of Hunter College’s Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program; Patricia Dye, one of the five outstanding teachers featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary P.S. Dance!; and Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson, to name a few.

Before speeches got underway, I spoke with Tom James, provost and dean of Teachers College. He told me the program has a three-pronged approach to training master dance educators—offering specialization in teacher education, leadership and policy and movement sciences. There are also plans for collaboration with the art and music departments.

After a warm introduction by Teachers College president Susan Fuhrman, Jody Arnhold took the podium. She gave a rousing speech about the importance of dance education and how TC’s new doctoral program will take it to the next level. Pending state approval, the new program will start in fall 2017. “I look forward to welcoming the first class next year. Maybe I’ll be in it,” said Arnhold, to the delight of her peers.

Kathleen Isaac, art education professor Mary Hafeli and Patricia Dye also spoke, and a trailer for P.S. Dance! was shown. While watching the footage, I remembered what a joy it was to speak last year with Catherine Gallant, one of the five teachers featured in the film. The work she and other public school dance teachers are doing is truly inspirational.

To cap off the celebration, members of Patricia Dye’s Jow-Ile-Bailar Dance Company from Science Skills High School for Science, Technology and the Creative Arts performed an uplifting dance for the crowd, and we all sang happy birthday to Jody Arnhold. What better way to celebrate than to see this new doctoral program realized?

Since the launch of the new program’s website, TC has received more than two dozen inquiries from prospective students. For more information, visit: tc.columbia.edu/danceed.

Jody Gottfried Arnhold (in navy) stands with Patricia Dye, Susan H. Fuhrman, TC trustee Dailey Pattee, TC board vice chair Leslie Morse Nelson and members of Jow-Ile-Bailar Dance Company at the luncheon on October 18.

Photo by Bruce Gilbert, courtesy of Teachers College

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