Anyone who teaches dance probably knows that is can change the lives of it’s practitioners. I’ve seen students go from shy, hesitant kids to empowered, confident individuals over the course of a semester or year, heard stories of physical and psychological growth from parents who barely recognize their children on-stage at the end of year recital, and read countless reflections from first-time college dancers about how the experience of taking a dance class completely changed the way the think, feel, and act. Over the past several months, I’ve also read many reports about how dance is changing the K-12 setting, engaging students in new ways and helping them to develop critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in addition to benefiting their physical wellness and helping them learn about everything from geometry to the solar system. This research has been in support of The Evidence Report, a project of the National Dance Education Organization with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. I was fortunate to be chosen as a co-author of the project, in addition to venerated dance researchers and educators Karen Kohn Bradley and Jane Bonbright. Writing this report was an act of true love, at times incredibly daunting but ultimately very rewarding. We scoured countless published and unpublished documents, evaluated to evidence contained in each, and wrote recommendations for further research in the field. It is my fervent hope that this document will be used in support of establishing, funding, and maintaining dance programs in every K-12 school in the country, and that the educators (including the dance educators) who read it will fully realize the power of dance to teach so much more than technique. We have a responsibility as dance educators to consider our students holistically; that is, to encourage their emotional, psychological, and cognitive growth in addition to their physical improvement within the realm of dance technique. Let this work, and the work of so many great researchers cited within, be our guide as we work tirelessly for the field of dance education.
Read The Evidence Report at the NDEO webpage: http://www.ndeo.org