Research and Advocacy

A lifelong writer, I take great joy in combining my love of words with my passion for movement. My specialities include advocacy writing, promotional and marketing materials, research, blog content, and grant writing.


Shannon Dooling Dances Blog

  • Dance curriculum and dance lesson plan ideas; dance teaching activities, tips, and tools; commentary on dance education, choreography, and arts and society, personal narratives about the intersection of feminism and the arts, and monthly inspirational takeaways.

National Dance Education Organization Blog

  • Shannon maintains and contributes to the blog at

NDEO Reports and NDEO Works (2014-present)

  • Regular columns in the Journal of Dance Education and Dance Education in Practice, respectively, published by Taylor & Francis, a publication of the National Dance Education Organization

Advancing Dance Education through Online Professional Development

  • Guest Blog Post on the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) website. Read here.

She Strikes a Pose to Break a Sweat With Vogue Classes

  • Was a reference for and quoted in this article for The Wall Street Journal by Jen Murphy. Read here.

How to Reignite Your Creative Spirit

  • Guest blog post on the Dance Ed Tips Blog. Read here.

The Artistic Process of Dance 

  • Article in the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education Newsletter, Issue 1, Vol 3, January 2017. Read here

Making Leaps and Bounds in Dance Teacher Certification

  • Guest Post on The Education Commission of the States’ Ed Notes Blog. Read here.


The Evidence Report (2013)

  • Co-Authored with Karen Kohn Bradley and Jane Bonbright; with additional research by reviewer Valerie Durham; edited by Lori Provost and Sherrie Barr; published by the National Dance Education Organization under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Abstract: ” The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) undertook a review of recent studies of how dance impacts learning, with particular attention to several areas determined to be under-researched in the 2004 Research Priorities in Dance Education: A Report to the Nation (Bonbright). These areas included: Creative Process, Neuroscience/Brain Research, Student Achievement, Affective Domain, Student Performance, Equity, Cultural and World Dance, and Children-at-Risk. A group of researchers combed a variety of databases, including recent theses, dissertations, and articles within the Dance Education Literature and Research descriptive index (DELRdi), the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), and a newly discovered collection of reports from the U.S Department of Education’s Arts-in-Education programs in professional development and model programs. The researchers prepared evaluations and summaries of each study, article, or report that provided insight into the evidence of how dance education impacts teaching and learning in the first decade-plus of the 21st century.”
  • View The Evidence Report at the NDEO website:

Like A Unicorn In Captivity (2012)

  • Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master’s of Fine Arts.
  • Abstract: “In the process of creating the original dance-theatre piece Like A Unicorn in Captivity, I sought the answers to two primary research questions: “What happens when you realize that your idol isn’t perfect?” and “What happens when you recognize her flaws in yourself?” The work began as a response to and an interpretation of the work of writer and aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh, incorporating multimedia, spoken word, and movement in an exploration of celebrity,  hero-worship, identity, relationship, ambition, creativity and duty. As we investigated these notions, the cast and I embarked on a transdisciplinary choreographic process, one that combined movement-based and theoretical research across dance, theatre, design, music, history, literature, feminism, and women’s studies. This paper offers an explanation of the inspirations behind the piece, how I arrived at the notion of transdiciplinary choreography, what the practice looked and felt like in progress, and a description of the work that resulted from the process.”

In the Middle of Something Great: Collaborative Dance in the Middle School Setting

  • Paper presentation given at the National Dance Education Organization National Conference in Chicago, IL.
  • Abstract: “Teaching dance in a middle school was an adventure like no other. All of my research and years of experience teaching in other settings didn’t quite seem to prepare me for the challenges (and joys) of working with this population. While dance can have tremendous benefits for middle school students in K-12 schools, I found that my usual teaching style wasn’t effective in this setting. Teaching middle school dance required that I rethink my approach to dance education, especially when it came to collaboration.”

Transdisciplinary Choreography (2012)

  • A “research-influenced” auto-enthography written for Women’s Studies 601: Approaches to Women’s Studies, with Dr. Katie King.  In this piece, I write about the influence of the course texts on the creative process for Like a Unicorn in Captivity (MFA Thesis Concert, 2012).  I explore the notion of “Transdisciplinary Choreography” merging not only the creative and performing arts disciplines but also the humanities in the creation of thoroughly researched choreography.

Hidden in the Hands Four: An Exploration of Self, Gender, and Community in Contra Dance Events at Glen Echo Park (2011)

  • A brief ethnography of my experience dancing and immersing myself in the Contra Dance culture at Glen Echo Park for five weeks in fall 2011, originally written for Dance 784: Dance in Global Context, with Professor Miriam Philips.
  • Presented at the University of Maryland Graduate English Organization Annual Conference 2012, The Body Electric.