“The truest expression of a people is in its dances…Bodies never lie.” ~Agnes De Mille
“Dance is the only art in which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made.” ~Ted Shawn
Dance as art represents creative self-expression through the medium of human movement. The essence of dance is to feel, create, compose, interpret, perform, and respond. Dance is the physical expression of an idea developed through a process of research, inquiry, and movement discovery. As students inquire into dance, they gain skills in creating, performing, viewing, and responding. Improvisation and selection lead to the product of dance works using traditional materials or the latest technologies. Participation in dance endows students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century workforce. For example, dance-making or doing choreography involves beginning with an intent or inspiration followed by framing the intent as a movement problem to be solved – a set of skills that can be extended to problem-solving in other aspects of life. Dance students also display skills in world and historical dance, educational dance, aesthetic education, and expressive dance together with the characteristics of determination, self-direction, perseverance, dedication, risk taking, and team work that are the hallmarks of the dance artist.
The purpose of dance education in preschool through high school is to broadly educate all students in dance as an art form and to promote physical activity for fitness. Students demonstrate competence and confidence in a variety of genres and styles. They perform across cultural and professional boundaries. They communicate and inspire. They take responsibility and show initiative at the expected moment. Investigating the meanings and significance of the works of artists, choreographers, and technicians across time and space provides for the examination of ideas across disciplines. Students connect the concepts of dance to history, science, politics, religion, literature, drama, music, visual arts, and physical fitness. Dance can provide connections with any subject matter and help students to understand concepts important in other disciplines. Analyzing and critiquing dances – past and present – supports understanding of the relevance of the work in its time and culture.
Aesthetic inquiry leads students to make discriminating choices about what they do and see in dance. Appreciating aesthetic values increases a student’s capacity to perform with expression, create dance with clarity and authenticity, and communicate verbally and in writing the intent and context of dance works. Students participating in school-based dance programs gain confidence in communicating and defending their ideas and decisions. They demonstrate a strong sense of self-worth and satisfaction.