To Share With Students
Students at UNCSA in Twyla Tharp's Sweet Fields. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of UNCSA

Where do you want to live?

Though this question might seem unrelated to the issue, Katie Glasner, chair of Barnard College's dance department, believes it's actually a crucial one. "A liberal arts institution in an urban area is going to offer more possibilities outside of the university setting, potentially, than a rural setting," she says. "And then there are the students who are really not comfortable in a metropolitan area and want a smaller area." If high schoolers are waffling over the type of dance program but have firm feelings about urban versus rural, geographical setting could be a definitive way to settle the matter.

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Dance Teachers Trending
Shana Habel (back left, in gray) leads a professional-development workshop for secondary dance teachers at Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Photo by Mesiya McGinnis, courtesy of Habel

"It's amazing that we're still here," says Shana Habel, arts advocate and dance advisor for the Los Angeles Unified School District. "The arts education branch of LAUSD has a lot of support for what we're doing, but that support can't always translate into funding, because the money's just not there. I tell teachers that the best advocacy we can do is to teach well."

In a city better known for Hollywood films than concert dance, the struggle to find funding for dance education probably doesn't come as a surprise. In spite of this, dance thrives in L.A. public schools, due in large part to Habel, the district's fervent champion for dance. As dance advisor for the second-largest school district in the country, Habel supports teachers in providing high-quality dance education and has advocated for the role of dance in a comprehensive K–12 program since her appointment in 2006. "I feel that I have this great opportunity to carry on the tradition in dance education that honors the philosophy that dance is for everyone," she says. Because of Habel's curriculum and professional-development initiatives and her unwavering support for the teachers she oversees, LAUSD stands out as a model for K–12 dance education nationwide.

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Dance Teachers Trending
DeGarmo leads a professional development session for his team of teaching artists. Photo by Rachel Papo

"I always had a dual path of teaching and choreography," says Mark DeGarmo. At the same time as Mark DeGarmo Dance (MDD) embarked on 28 international tours in 12 countries, the company has also partnered with New York City schools to provide programs for kids struggling in some of the toughest socioeconomic conditions. What they've learned from three decades in classrooms with these kids has set MDD apart as a model for dance education.

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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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First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award to DREAM director Kelli Quinn and student Valeria Cruz.

At the White House yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities awarded the DC-based nonprofit dance organization, CityDance, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for its after-school program DREAM. The award honors organizations that use the arts and humanities to increase academic achievement and college enrollment, and it is the highest honor a youth arts and humanities program can receive. DREAM was one of 12 organizations honored at the ceremony.

Established in 2005, the program offers free after-school dance classes and performances to kids in grades 3–12. DREAM also provides mentorship and tutoring for students in underserved communities, in an effort to promote higher graduation rates.

CityDance plans to open a new arts center, The DREAM Center for Dance, in downtown Washington, DC, in 2018. It will contain dance studios, a black box theater and study rooms. For more info, visit: citydance.net.

Photo by Steven E. Purcell, courtesy of CityDance

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

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