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This essay explores factors influencing high-quality teaching in dance. The author argues that deficiencies in the skills needed to teach the content of dance (i.e., pedagogical knowledge) pose a bigger threat to effective instruction than familiarity with the subject being taught (i.e., content knowledge). The process of learning to teach not only elucidates the basics of sound pedagogy but also reveals key ideas and personal beliefs about dance that engenders better teaching and learning. The author concludes with suggestions for developing pedagogical knowledge in dance.
Edward C. Warburton, Ed.D., is in the Theater
Arts Department at the University of California,
Santa Cruz
Correspondence: Edward C. Warburton, Ed.D.,
Theater Arts Center, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz,
California 95064;
This essay explores factors influencing high-quality
teaching in dance. The author argues that deficien-
cies in the skills needed to teach the content of
dance (i.e., pedagogical knowledge) pose a bigger
threat to effective instruction than familiarity
with the subject being taught (i.e., content knowl-
edge). The process of learning to teach not only
elucidates the basics of sound pedagogy but also
reveals key ideas and personal beliefs about dance
that engenders better teaching and learning. The
author concludes with suggestions for developing
pedagogical knowledge in dance.
enter the dance studio’s reception area. There
is a pleasant buzz of activity in the air. Parents
are smiling, talking quietly as their children
dance in adjacent rooms. I feel like a character out
of Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast of A Prairie
Home Companion, a bit player in a weekly scene.
Everyone seems above average and I, the under-
cover dance educator, am busy staking out private
dance studios for family and friends. Cautious not
to interrupt or draw attention, I gather brochures
and glance surreptitiously into the dance studios.
The receptionist misses nothing, graciously allow-
ing me a complimentary glimpse at the budding
dancers. Pink feet running in pairs. Pink shoes
stretching into battement tendu. Classical music
drifts through air. A teacher’s warm voice gently ad-
monishes youngsters to dance in time. The uneven
lines, carefree circles, scarves floating and petite
tutus turning, remind me of the pure pleasure of
bodies in motion. Everyone—dance teachers, stu-
dents, and parents alike—look very happy.
On my way out, I catch a snippet of conversa-
tion, one parent whispering, “…very nice and very
patient, the other replying, …she really knows her
stuff.The words follow me outside, reminding me
of the last time I heard talk about dance teaching.
At the National Dance Education Organization’s
annual conference, I participated in a class taught
by an acknowledged expert dance educator. She was
simultaneously teaching class and talking candidly
about the choices she made as she taught. The
range of factors she considered was remarkable.
Each activity was accompanied with explicit ideas
about why and how she was presenting the work.
I recall thinking that she really knew “her stuff.
The parentsconversation at the dance studio made
me stop and think again, what is the “stuff that
makes a quality teacher so good?
There is a continuing debate in this country
over when someone is (or is not) a good teacher
who knows the right stuff. An increasingly vocal
group of educators has argued that the quality of
the nation’s workforce of teachers is in doubt.
This group contends that too many teachers have
insufficient knowledge in the subjects they teach.
Other commentators dispute this notion, instead
stressing a need for deeper understanding of so-
cio-cultural-political contexts and the psychology
Beyond Steps
The Need for Pedagogical Knowledge in Dance
Edward C. Warburton, Ed.D.
8 Journal of Dance Education Volume 8, Number 1 2008
of teaching and learning.
Everyone agrees that
children deserve competent, properly educated
teachers, but consensus breaks down over how to
accomplish this goal. Most educators concur that
the requisite skills include two broad categories:
1. content knowledge or the familiarity with the
subject being taught and 2. pedagogical knowledge
or the familiarity with techniques for teaching the
subject. A main point of contention revolves around
the appropriate combination of content and peda-
gogical knowledge needed for effective teaching.
For those who argue that the major impediment
to high-quality teaching is a lack of content exper-
tise, deficiencies in content knowledge is thought
to contribute to the increase in low-performing
students and schools. This situation is exacerbated
further, so the reasoning goes, by teacher prepara-
tion programs that underemphasize content and
overemphasize pedagogy. The imbalance could be
redressed, they argue, by allowing qualified college
graduates who “may not have completed course-
work in educational methodology to receive certifi-
cates allowing them to teach in public schools.
The issue of teacher competency in dance has
been addressed largely through the dissemina-
tion of best practices and models of dance in
education. In general, these texts present bal-
anced approaches, with suggestions for content
and pedagogy linked to helpful guides for lesson
planning, implementation and assessment. These
are invaluable resources created by expert danc-
ers and educators. The concern is not the lack of
good resources, but a lack of informed readers. In
contrast to the population of general education
teachers, the few dance teachers in public and
private schools with training in pedagogy are far
outnumbered by those without any exposure to a
formal (or informal) course of study in educational
methods and materials. For years, dance educators
have been making the argument that more, not
less, attention be paid to pedagogical knowledge
for prospective dancers and teachers.
In the past, when I have argued in favor of
mandatory pedagogy courses for students in
postsecondary dance programs, I have based my
arguments on demographics and career prospects.
It is a fact that the vast majority of artists—some
estimates range as high as 90%—who remain in
the arts past college or professional career end up
teaching at least part-time.
I have gone so far as
to make it an ethical issue, suggesting that it is
impossible to defend a dance curriculum as caring
about students’ needs when courses in pedagogy
are absent from the list of required courses.
arguments against this position conform to the
view of those who advocate for content over peda-
gogical knowledge: intensive study in a domain
gives individuals all the information needed for
teaching in it. My timeworn retort has always
been that “steps are necessary but not sufficient
for teaching dance.
As my thinking and research on this question
has developed, so has my argument expanded be-
yond the “necessary but not sufficient” platitude.
In short, I contend that deficiencies in the skills
needed to teach the content of dance (i.e., pedagogi-
cal knowledge) pose a bigger threat to high-quality
instruction than familiarity with the subject being
taught (i.e., content knowledge). I base my argu-
ment on a series of interrelated points.
First and foremost, the process of learning to
teach dance illuminates the elements of sound
pedagogy, providing the basic tools for preparing
and improving lessons. This is where I make the
“dance training is necessary but not sufficient
argument. Truly effective teaching, however, re-
quires consideration not only of what and when to
present information but also of how to present it.
Consideration of the latter issue makes explicit the
sometimes mysterious nature of dance, dances, and
dancing. It forces one to dig down deep to uncover
foundational ideas and structures in the discipline.
This effort highlights the importance of “teach-
ing for understanding,which is a very different
enterprise than training for recall of steps and
routines. One also learns to teach dance to learn
about one’s own assumptions about dance. This
process underscores the role that personal beliefs
play in determining who receives dance instruction
rich in creative and critical thinking. In what fol-
lows, I expand on these ideas. I conclude with some
reflections on developing pedagogical knowledge in
Pedagogical Knowledge in Dance
A recent study asked principals to weigh in on the
controversy regarding threats to teacher quality.
Principals (N = 242) completed a survey in which
they rated how frequently, in their experience,
teacher ineffectiveness was caused by five factors:
1. deficiencies in content knowledge; 2. deficiencies
in lesson-planning skills; 3. deficiencies in lesson-
implementation skills; 4. deficiencies in ability to
establish rapport with students; and 5. deficiencies
in classroom management skills. The last four of
these factors were judged to represent varieties of
pedagogical knowledge. According to the principals
surveyed, those who are alarmed by purported
deficiencies in content knowledge have it wrong
on threats to teacher quality. The most common
Journal of Dance Education Volume 8, Number 1 2008 9
cause of teacher ineffectiveness cited by principals
in this study were deficiencies in three “in-class”
teaching skills central to teachers’ interactions
with students: lesson-implementation skills, ability
to establish rapport with students, and classroom
management skills. In sum, pedagogical knowl-
edge, not content knowledge, proved to be the more
frequent cause of teacher ineffectiveness, as judged
by the administrators who work most closely with
The extension of these findings to personal ex-
perience may provide some insight into the value
of pedagogical knowledge in dance. As someone
who began teaching while still dancing profession-
ally, I basked in the certitude of my years in the
studio. I studied my favorite teachers. I convinced
myself that meticulous, well-organized lessons
would yield immediate results. Outside of class,
I wielded my content knowledge like a hammer,
every conceivable barrier to instruction was to me
a nail pounded down by experience. My lessons
plans were tight. My manner was professional.
Each dance combination and practically every
word was accounted for.
In class, I was a disaster. My dance training was
no match for the rigors of teaching. I impeded the
progress and motivation of my students. My lack
of pedagogical knowledge showed up in precisely
the ways reported by principals in the teacher qual-
ity study. I did not understand how to implement
a lesson or adjust it to the demands of different
populations. My so-called repertoire of rapport
consisted of jokes and occasional encouragement;
classroom management relied on healthy doses of
intimidation. I was a highly ineffective teacher.
My problem was that I understood learning as
the memorization of externally provided input, as
a passive act of knowledge and skill reception. Ac-
cordingly, I knew that my students could only think
about (or otherwise use) knowledge and skills that
they have already committed to memory (mental or
physical). In my mind, knowledge and skill inevita-
bly preceded thinking. I implicitly subscribed to a
hierarchical model of learning in which high-level
cognitive (e.g., analysis), emotional (e.g., caring),
and physical (e.g., jumping) operations grew out
of low-level ones (e.g., comprehension, sympathy,
strong feet). This view of learning is common among
novice teachers and tends to yield an impoverished
“transmission” approach to teaching.
It soon dawned on me that becoming a teacher
meant going beyond the steps. It required the
development of pedagogical knowledge, from cur-
ricular design to lesson implementation to final
assessment and back again. One of my graduate
school professors, David Perkins, summed up the
endeavor as learning to “teach for understanding,
where the art of teaching involves the science of
building understanding.
From preparing the
foundation with clear learning goals through the
structuring of relevant activities to ongoing as-
sessment, education requires a rigorous kind of
competence and care.
I also found that learning to teach revealed
aspects of dance that until then were left unsaid
and thus undiscovered by me. For example, an-
other teacher, Penelope Hanstein, encouraged me
to think about dance as a domain of knowledge.
Generally, domains are defined as bodies of disci-
plined-based knowledge that have been structured
culturally, and which can be acquired, practiced,
mastered and then advanced through the act of
creating. The discipline of dance includes different
styles, such as ballet, hip-hop, improvisation, jazz,
or modern dance. I came to understand these dif-
ferent dance styles as entailing different domains
of knowledge, all of which demand distinct (some
might say unique) modes of moving, thinking, and
understanding. This fact became painfully obvi-
ous to me when I tried to move from an advanced
ballet class to an advanced contact improvisation
class. It is a qualitatively different experience to
learn balletic versus improvisational movement.
To be sure, there are overlapping movement ideas
and concepts. But, as Howard Gardner argues, the
development of knowledge and skills are largely
shaped by the structural constraints a domain
places on the process of learning.
One way to think about the structural con-
straints in dance is to consider the difference
between vertical and horizontal domains. Horizon-
tal domains, like postmodern dance or electronic
music, are established in such as way that most
of the components are susceptible to individual
transformation, with novelty possible in a variety of
dimensions. Ballet and violin playing, on the other
hand, are the prototypical vertical domains, with
highly structured, rule-based components that are
resistant to novelty and where adherence to style is
most important. Horizontal domains allow novelty
to occur in all dimensions, resulting in divergent
developmental patterns for learners; in contrast,
vertical domains possess certain stable elements
that are existentially fundamental to the domain,
thus permitting alteration only around certain
My exposure to pedagogical knowledge alerts
me to the nature of domains and the fact that
the horizontal versus vertical dichotomy is by no
means absolute. I began to understand that it is
10 Journal of Dance Education Volume 8, Number 1 2008
a qualitatively different experience to learn and
teach ballet versus improvisation. Moreover, it
became abundantly clear that a single teaching
method (like one hammer) does not work for every
challenge. These days, I encourage my students to
be wary of those who claim to be using exclusively
“constructivist-oriented” pedagogy when teaching
beginning dancers in the art of contact improvi-
sation. Similarly, I would encourage students to
question those who claim to be training expres-
sive ballet artists, but who employ primarily “drill
and skill” techniques in class. This all or nothing
tendency may be one reason why talented, well-
meaning individuals with years of experience and
education in dance are often ineffective teachers.
Exposure to pedagogical knowledge about domains
inculcates a kind of mental flexibility when con-
sidering what combination of teaching methods
will work best for the instructional challenge one
faces. In this way, the development of pedagogical
knowledge has helped expand my instructional
range, moving from ballet to contact improvisation
and back again.
Revealing Beliefs
As suggested by the foregoing discussion, the
process of acquiring pedagogical knowledge takes
one on a journey that is quite distinct from that
of acquiring content knowledge. Learning to teach
is an inherently reflexive process. One’s assump-
tions and beliefs are challenged. In teacher educa-
tion programs in particular, prospective teachers’
opinions about learning are met head-on by a large
body of educational research. One important area
of research on teaching is directly related to the
content versus pedagogy debate, namely the nature
and impact of teachers’ beliefs about teaching and
Teachers’ beliefs derive directly from personal
experiences in a subject. These beliefs have been
shown to influence how teachers structure tasks
and interact with learners.
My experience of
dance training, for instance, provided a kind of
road map for teaching dance. This so-called in-
herited practicehad a profound influence on my
initial beliefs and practices. Three other important
influences on beliefs have been identified in the
development of teaching practice from novice to
expert: self-selection effects in prospective teach-
ers, the impact of preservice teacher training, and
the influence of inservice education and teaching
A subset of this theory and research
relates to teacher beliefs about critical thinking:
purposeful and goal-directed cognitive skills or
strategies that increase the likelihood of a desired
My work in this area has focused on
the development of teacher beliefs about criti-
cal-thinking activities for different populations
of learners. I have surveyed both the general
population of teachers and focused more directly
on dance educators.
I have found that individuals who choose to
teach in dance, compared to non-teachers, do so
with a strong belief in the value of critical-thinking
in dance. This finding suggests a pedagogical-pref-
erence effect. Prospective dance teachers’ showed
strong pedagogical preferences for models of dance
education that champion critical-thinking, often
called conceptual” approaches to dance. These
conceptual models resonant with critical-thinking
initiatives in that they focus on the deliberate prac-
tice of key movement ideas using explicit frame-
works for thinking in, evaluating, and performing
The finding of a pedagogical-preference
effect in self-selection of a career in teaching aligns
with findings in the general population.
I also found, however, that prospective dance
teachers’ beliefs in the efficacy of critical-think-
ing was considerably stronger for those dance
students who were judged to be high in ability,
motivation, and knowledge (i.e., high-advantage
learners). If taken to its logical end, one would
find high-advantage learners receiving enriched
instruction that results in high-level performance
that in turn makes still more enriched lessons
likely. Conversely, low-advantage learners would
receive few enriched lessons, making it unlikely
that they would develop sufficiently strong skills
to warrant enriched instruction in subsequent les-
sons. A self-fulfilling advantage effect would thus
emerge, one that would keep the “in” group in and
the “out” group out.
To summarize, prospective dance teachers
showed both pedagogical-preference effects and
learner advantage effects. As prospective dance
teachers gained preservice training and teach-
ing experience, however, these beliefs moderated
significantly. In particular, while preferences for
high-advantage learners remained intact, preser-
vice education was associated with a significant
increase in support for use of critical-thinking
activities for both high- and low-advantage ones.
This finding suggested to me that exposure to peda-
gogical knowledge resulted in greater awareness
of the domain of dance and strategies for optimal
teaching for all learners.
My experience and research has convinced me
that preservice training is essential in the develop-
ment of teaching skills and personal beliefs. But
one additional finding surprised me. I found that
Journal of Dance Education Volume 8, Number 1 2008 11
despite, or perhaps because of, their years in the
studio classroom, more experienced dance teach-
ers consistently favored high functioning learners.
They implicitly believed that “talent will out” no
matter what they do; that is, the most talented
dancers will improve regardless of instructional
approach. This finding contradicted studies of
teacher development in other areas. It presented
a striking counterpoint to studies of expertise in
other areas, where more experience was associ-
ated with more, not less, egalitarian views.
research suggested that, regardless of preservice
or inservice teacher education, the typical devel-
opmental path of dance teachers’ beliefs was only
partially consistent with attainment of expertise in
teaching. So, if experience and education does not
make me an expert, I thought, then what exactly
makes an expert teacher expert? I wanted to know
the stuff that experts know. What stuff do experts
believe that I don’t?
Surveys are all well and good, but at some point
a good researcher has to begin talking with people.
Almost five years ago, I began an ongoing multi-site
case study, using ethnographic methods, of expert
dance educators. I continue to observe, participate,
and talk with this group all across the country. One
common theme that I have heard repeated again
and again speaks directly to the issue of personal
beliefs, teaching approach, and learner advantages.
These experts share what one of them called the
“100 percent” doctrine. Expert dance educators
appear to believe in critical-thinking activities for
all learners, and they hold high expectations for
everyone, including themselves. Instead of “talent
will out” instructional tendencies, these experts be-
lieve “achievement will out” regardless of students’
ability, motivation, or previous knowledge in dance
as long as the educators’ pedagogical knowledge is
leveraged in appropriate and systematic ways. Most
experts told me a variation on the same theme:
namely, that if they did not get 100% of students
to achieve at a high level, then they did not believe
they had done their job as a teacher.
Improving Dance Teacher Quality
When I started teaching, I had no idea that I would
make it a career choice. I quickly learned that there
is little standardization in dance education circles
about what makes a good teacher good. Decisions
about teacher quality still seem to be made ad ho-
minem, often based solely on an individual’s dance
experience and professional reputation. She is a
famous dancer; he is a known choreographer. These
individuals must know how to teach dance. The
majority of U.S. institutions of education at all lev-
els, both in the private and public sectors, have no
comprehensive guide or certification procedure in
place to help distinguish between those who know
their stuff and those that are just full of stuff. The
National Dance Education Organization is active
in this arena and, with state agencies and private
sector organizations like the National Registry of
Dance Educators (, new initiatives are
attempting to redress this problem with valuable
certification and professional development oppor-
tunities. The individuals involved in these efforts
understand that once dancers know what, when,
how, and who they are teaching—when pedagogical
knowledge is as valued as content knowledge—our
community will be stronger, more informed, and
more respected.
This essay has attempted to fuel those efforts
by showing how deficiencies in the skills needed
to teach dance (i.e., pedagogical knowledge) pose
a bigger threat to effective instruction than famil-
iarity with the subject being taught (i.e., content
knowledge). The process of learning to teach dance
illuminates the elements of sound pedagogy, provid-
ing the basic tools for preparing and implementing
lessons. It provides an opportunity to expand one’s
understanding of dance and revise beliefs about
teaching and learning in dance. I conclude with
a short philosophical argument in favor of peda-
gogical knowledge in dance education. In short, I
believe that nothing in dance education will change
until we convince young dancers that pedagogy, like
choreography, is their work.
My pedagogy as choreography stance owes
it formulation to Sue Stinson, the quintessential
dance educator. Her “Scholar/Artist Lecture” titled
“Research as Choreography” given at the American
Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation
and Dance’s 1994 National Convention inspired
many of us young dance educators and researchers.
In her lecture, Stinson told us that one of her most
important tasks is to help dance students recog-
nize that “scholarly research, like choreography, is
their work.
She described the ways researching
is akin to choreographing: gathering content and
generating raw materials, beginning initial drafts
and searching for the right (not formulaic) form
and structure, making decisions about what works
and why, putting the work into action (on page or
onstage), with many revisions and re-envisioning
throughout the process. The beauty of Stinson’s ap-
proach is that she brings research to her students,
rather than the other way around.
Perhaps if we bring the art and science of teach-
ing to our colleagues and students in this way,
pedagogy as choreography, we might engender
12 Journal of Dance Education Volume 8, Number 1 2008
new kinds of dance, dances, dancing, and dance
education. The effort to advance dance through
the improvement of teacher quality can be found in
many dance education texts. This essay argues for
something else. I believe that one of our top priori-
ties as dance educators must be to refocus dance
on the learning and teaching enterprise, where
content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge
go hand-in-hand. If we do this, then we will build
an engaged and informed readership who seek to
learn more about the appropriate combinations
of the who, what, when, where, and how of dance
education. We should do this work so that all of us
will aspire to become like the expert dance teacher
in the beginning of this essay, making the good
work of dance education feel, to paraphrase Erick
Hawkins, like a clear place.
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... Although providing dance instructors with formal training on behavioral coaching strategies can improve dancers' performance, promote a positive experience, increase the likelihood that dancers continue to participate and gain the associated benefits of dance, there are potential barriers to accessing this formal training. For example, barriers may include limited availability of dance instructors, inaccessibility of training due to geographic barriers, and/or high associated costs (Anderson et al. 2013;Quinn et al. 2021;Rogoski 2007;Wanburton 2008). the COVID-19 pandemic impeded the ability for dance instructors to participate in trainings due to public closures, stay at home orders, temporary loss of work, etc. ...
Few dance instructors receive formal training on how to teach dance skills using behavioral coaching methods and may employ an authoritarian teaching style that utilizes coercive feedback, which can adversely affect dancers’ experiences. A behavior analytic approach to dance education may provide dance instructors with strategies that increase the accuracy of dance movements and positively affect dancers’ satisfaction with their dance classes. Using a concurrent multiple-baseline design across five dance instructors, we evaluated the outcomes of a virtual training informed by the behavioral skills training framework on dance instructors’ implementation of an introductory behavior analytic coaching package consisting of four strategies: task analyzing, emphasizing correct performance with focus points, assessing performance through data collection, and using behavior-specific feedback. We selected these strategies to provide dance instructors with a solid foundation to behavioral coaching methods. It is promising that all dance instructors who participated in virtual training met mastery criteria and maintained their performance at a 1-month follow-up. Future research may consider exploring virtual adaptations that promote more efficient training methods for teaching dance instructors to implement behavioral coaching methods.
... It is well established that pedagogy matters when it comes to teaching dance (Warburton 2008;Risner and Schupp 2020;Koff 2021). Without pedagogical knowledge, teachers are less likely to be agile educators who can respond to their students, varying educational contexts, and the shifting realities of the field and communities. ...
Full-text available
Many graduate dance programmes require a pedagogy course to ensure that graduate students, who are future faculty, have the capacity to successfully educate the next generation of dance practitioners. The majority of graduate dance programmes in the United States prioritise Western theatrical forms, yet increasingly there is a call to decolonise dance curricula by broadening the scope of dance forms present in degree programmes. For this to happen, graduate programmes must make space for students to rigorously develop as postsecondary dance educators. In graduate teaching courses, this requires a shift away from ‘best practices’, which may unintentionally privilege Western constructs of dance and pedagogy, and towards cultivating ethical approaches for dance teaching that reflect teachers’ personal and cultural values, the aesthetics of a given dance form, and the community of students being taught. Using an autoethnographic approach in combination with qualitative content analysis, this article examines a dance educator’s journey revising her approach from one that instills ‘best practices’ for teaching modern or postmodern dance techniques to a model that develops graduate students’ competencies as ethical dance educators and embraces a range of dance forms. This pedagogical shift is requisite for approaching equity in tertiary dance education.
... They should also encourage their students to employ their newly obtained knowledge and skills in different situations (Çimer, 2012). Thus, as Warburton (2008) puts forth, the process of pre-service education training is a convenient period to conduct interventions to bolster effective teaching through challenges and correcting pre-service teachers' own misconceptions to achieve the target results. ...
... In an essay exploring factors affecting the quality of teaching in dance education, the author makes the case that deficiencies of pedagogical knowledge might pose a larger threat to effective instruction than content knowledge (Warburton 2008). A recent study of 150 older adult ballroom dancers further highlights the opportunity dance instructors have to enhance meaningful involvement for their dancers, as authors found this resulted in positive self-fulfillment within their cohort and was an important determinant for retention (Wang and Chu 2016). ...
Dance is an enjoyable activity among older adults, but motivations and determinants for successful engagement are less understood. Our aim was to assess these factors among community-dwelling older adults participating in a ballroom dance program. Twenty-one participants (71.4 ± 4.7, 66.7–76.1 years; males: n = 8, females: n = 13) engaged in an hour-long, twice-weekly ballroom dance program over 10 weeks. We qualitatively analyzed (1) field notes, (2) arts surveys, (3) instructor interviews, and (4) focus group interviews post-intervention. Participants enjoyed the workshops and reported the physical, psychological, and social benefits. Participation motivators included personal enrichment, opportunities to socialize, and physical health. Participants overwhelmingly wanted an opportunity to challenge themselves and form new relationships while staying active. The group dynamic fostered a sense of community and facilitated coping through enhanced self-esteem and social support. Participants’ high attendance rates and responses indicate that the dance workshops successfully met their goals. Practitioners can use this information to adapt pedagogical strategies for community-based arts programming to support successful aging.
The dance world is dominated by instilling technique and discipline in the dance training. Technique and discipline have been inculcated through training regimes that are dogmatically transferred through the generations — from teacher to dancer —and who in turn perpetuate technique and discipline in their teaching. Within a multicultural setting, dancers are required to start afresh and to subscribe to a standardisation that is often unattainable due to gender, physique, and bias. The standardisation reinforces a coloniality of power. This article examines this phenomenon and serves to promote inclusive strategies towards training vocational dance. Theories of learning are explored that advocate towards a long-term transformation strategy that takes the notions of deficit dancers and the coloniality of power within the dance education system into account. Consideration is also afforded to Nakata‘s (1998) cultural interface theories, which incorporate these aspects with a strategy on dance vocational training —the constructs of a professional learning community (PLC) that may not be seamless in implementation. Through reflective and reflexive inquiry, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) somatic training modules are case studies for a gap analysis framing of such a strategy. By actively participating in co-creating new knowledge and futures, a sense of agency is afforded the individual student.
This chapter speaks to new directions and needs within education and specifically dance education. The value of developing ‘soft skills’ or twenty-first-century competencies are noted and reviewed in respect to dance education. The second part of the chapter has a focus on the emergence of dance education in contemporary China, noting the interplay between curriculum policy and politics.
Dance-based interventions are offered to diverse populations experiencing various life challenges. A growing number of studies demonstrate how dance has an impact on different health parameters. However, there are a paucity of studies documenting the content and pedagogy of the dance for health programs. This study examines how six facilitators with different backgrounds foster health and wellbeing through inclusive practices in dance among diverse populations with special needs. To highlight their pedagogical approaches, the data collection included ethnographic observations via video recordings, individual semi-structured interviews providing biographical information, ‘look-alike’ descriptions of each facilitators’ in class behaviour, and verbalisation of an activity with numerous details. A thematic analysis of the entire corpus revealed the strategies used by each facilitator to offer dance as an inclusive artistic practice for everybody and the knowledge informing the adaptation of the dance activities. Regardless of the diverse backgrounds of the facilitators, the results show the importance of crafting dance for health practices and framing emerging knowledge to inform future dance programs and, ultimately providing purposeful activity for enhancing health and wellbeing of people living with different needs. Future studies should examine how craft practices might be constructed as a joint interdisciplinary venture.
Dance instructors have limited access to training and professional development in behavioral coaching. Manualized interventions have the potential benefits of being readily accessible and affordable to dance instructors wanting to implement evidence-based behavioral coaching procedures. This study examined the potential efficacy of a manualized behavioral coaching intervention, the POINTE Program, to improve student dance performance. Four dance instructors and 4 students, ages 6 to 13 years participated. A multiple baseline design across skills was used to evaluate the student outcomes. The instructors successfully used the POINTE Program to identify target dance skills and select behavioral coaching procedures, and implemented selected coaching procedures with fidelity. Their implementation of behavioral coaching procedures (e.g., auditory feedback, video modeling with video feedback) resulted in improved target dance skills for all students. The results offer initial evidence of the efficacy of using a manualized behavioral coaching program designed to increase dance performance.
This collaboration between the dance and learning technology departments at Bath Spa University, sought to develop a dance repertoire module with the use of mobile technologies, in order to enhance collaborative and discursive opportunities for students. The introduction of mobile technologies into a face-to-face teaching environment initiated a blended model of teaching and learning whereby the technology became a partner to the existing practice. The module was taught within the first year of the BA(Hons) Dance course, with 39 female and three male undergraduate students participating over a two-year period. The purpose of the project was to apply specialist ICT knowledge to teaching spaces, in order to diversify established practices. In light of this purpose, the project design was driven by Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) whereby historically established working methods are brought to question through a new tool; the mobile application ‘Coach’s Eye’. Through the collection of tutor observations, student journals and post-project interviews, it was clear that Coach’s Eye had facilitated a more democratic environment and greater range of activity. The extent to which the addition of technologically-supported learning improved student engagement and enhanced the learning would require further research utilising data designed for that purpose.
This article investigates the challenges that tertiary educators face when seeking to implement education-policy reforms in China. Our qualitative study presents the narratives of tertiary dance educators from eight universities who have actively sought to shift their pedagogical practices as acts of transgression. Their stories reveal the ways that teachers experience pressure to perpetuate authoritarian teaching practices, from their students, from other teachers, and from their institutional leaders. Viewing this learning culture through a Foucauldian lens, we critically question how an authoritarian discourse pervades the tertiary dance education system. Through this, we identify how surveillance and a continual sense of comparison (between students, teachers and institutions), sustains authoritarian pedagogies and inhibits individual teachers’ approaches to educational reform.
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To investigate teachers' beliefs about critical-thinking (CT) activities for different populations of learners, the Critical Thinking Belief Appraisal (CTBA) was administered to 145 practicing secondary teachers. Teachers rated both high-CT and low-CT activities as more effective for highadvantage learners than low-advantage ones, demonstrating strong “advantage effects.” They also rated high-CT activities as more effective than low-CT ones for both high-advantage and lowadvantage learners, demonstrating “pedagogical-preference effects” stronger for high-advantage learners than low-advantage ones. Although these results are inconsistent with the assertion that teachers favor low-CT activities over high-CT ones for low-advantage learners, the results suggest that low-advantage learners may receive fewer high-CT activities in schools, which may hinder their academic performance. Studies of the development of teachers' CT-related beliefs are needed, with the goal of establishing teacher-education practices emphasizing appropriate use of high-CT activities for low-advantage learners.
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What does it means to be a caring dance teacher? The essay reviews the rise of care in education and examines the concept of care as a moral orientation in personal and educational encounters so that connections to dance education are revealed, defnitions are arrived at, and important related issues are identifed. The essay describes three propositions for creating and sustaining climates of care and trust in our classrooms, studios, and communities of dance.
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The contributions of Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI theory) to dance education are reviewed by placing MI theory in the context of historical perspectives on intelligence and examining the assumptions behind traditional models of intelligence as well as some of the more recent pluralistic approaches. The principal tenets of MI theory are reviewed and examined in relationship to the goals of education. Through this examination it is suggested that MI theory validates dance as a domain of knowledge – as the embodiment of “intelligence possible” – and an argument is advanced for the reconsideration of the goals and purposes of dance education.
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The Critical Thinking Belief Appraisal was administered to practicing dance teachers (n = 52) in the USA to investigate their beliefs (and use of) critical‐thinking activities with high‐advantage and low‐advantage learners. Results point to an ‘advantage effect’ in dance teachers’ beliefs about critical thinking: the higher the perceived learner advantages, the more likely teachers are to favor high ­critical‐thinking activities. This effect also appears to be a more absolute belief in the efficacy of teaching high‐advantage learners than previously thought. These results extend to teachers’ classroom behavior as well as their espoused beliefs and are not an artifact of teachers’ critical‐thinking ability and disposition, or their need for social approval. Implications and the need for further research are discussed.
Experienced, early career, and prospective dance teachers and non-teacher controls (N = 167) participated in a study examining the development of beliefs about use of critical-thinking (CT) activities with different learner populations. Dance teachers' self-selection of careers was associated with support for high-CT for high-advantage learners. Preservice education was associated with more absolute beliefs in both the inherent advantages of high functioning learners and the use of high-CT activities for all learners. Teaching experience was associated with a moderation of support for high-CT instruction for all learners - with clear preferences for high-advantage students - and reduced support for low-CT instruction for high-advantage learners. For teacher educators who advocate strongly for use of CT in dance and physical education, the results suggest a need for research and development of preservice practices that promote optimal use of CT activities for all learners.
Since 1977–78, The USA National Dance Association (NDA) has selected one individual each year to receive an award as NDA Scholar and/or Artist and make a presentation at the association’s annual meeting. The following essay was originally presented as the 1994 NDA Scholar’s Lecture; a manuscript version has been published by that organization. The version published here includes a few additions that were part of the spoken lecture in 1994 but were not in the earlier publication. No attempt has been made, however, to bring it ‘up to date’ in terms of references and more recent developments; rather it remains in the historical context in which it was created.