George Lucas Educational Foundation

Dance, anyone?

Dance, anyone?

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Despite the great Sir Ken Robinson's pointing the fact out, in his popular TED talk of a few years ago, dance is still the most marginalized of disciplines in schools, and it is not even listed as a subject area on this website. The name of this group is Art/Music/Drama. The denial of the role of the moving body in learning is pretty complete and not only here. However, the good news is there is much to understand and value about how dance helps children (and adults for that matter!) understand their worlds, communicate with others, and discover their own expressive personalities. If there is any interest here in discussing the ways in which dance is a powerful tool for transformative learning, write away!

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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

Hi Everyone -

I'm really excited to see how lively this conversation is. I tweeted about this conversation and an organization responded with an interesting educational game that fuses dance and drama (for the early years). You can check it out here: (Source:

On a personal note, I'd like to say that as a student dance helped me tremendously in my studies. I minored in dance in college and it was then that something clicked with me. My dance teacher used to say "Dance is its own language" and as I danced more and more, the more I found that statement to be true. I don't know how to explain it but realizing that statement made me appreciate and look at my studies in languages and cultures in a completely different lens. Some things are just not not translatable and that alone inspired me to use movement when I couldn't fully express what I wanted to say.

Anyone else or your students have a similar experience?

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

I want to thank Karen Bradley for starting this 'dance' of postings, I am new to but I find this community inspirational...
Being a retired classroom-teacher, (but still a teacher...and totally new to South Florida) I do not have an affiliation with a school or dance studio yet...), but I can contribute 2 small resources to continue this choreography of educators:


Esther Wertheimer is a contemporary sculptor world famous for her large bronze celebrations of human movement and human affection/connection...
Unfortunately there is not a single book of her sculpture (partly because she is still very much alive and partly for 'other'reasons...)
I am fortunate to have a wonderful museum catalogue of her work, published years ago by the Canadian Embassy in Japan, but it is not available online and is obviously out-of-print. However, I did find the website link enclosed here, that is her Florida Art Gallery and they
Do Have about 30 photographs of her sculptures... Many of which express the Primal "Mother and Child" Connection and the Human-Human Connection among children and among adults. Her bronze sculptures evoke Dance, very powerful and very graceful dance... You could share these images with your students for art projects, writng projects, dance projects etc.

2. I come from a background in Tai Chi and yoga, so that is where I have developed much of my Physical Education... Because I have recently moved, I have very few books, and mostly have relied on library books, but I did a quick search for "Tai Chi for Beginners" and found Paul Crompton's paperback book of the same title...available very inexpensively as "very good condition" used books (at least a dozen or so copies) for less than $10...)

If you are interested in learning and/or teaching tai chi to your students in school, I would suggest going to your local bookshops and browse the many books available to see which one(s) you like...

There a thousands of youtube videos as well, but I cannot recommend any single one or product in video or DVD format ....

Tai Chi is a soft martial art form that can be very appealing to both girls and boys, men and women... It is definitely dance, but a very slow 'dance', which of course can be speeded-up to 'martial' speed, which is obviously then "very fast"... :-)

Hope this helps your dance perspective...


Christine Termini Passarella's picture
Christine Termini Passarella
Founder of The Kids for Coltrane Project in Education

Hi Allen!

Wow that sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us. I think it would be terrific to introduce our students to tai chi. I love the way you describe it as a slow dance. I will certainly look into this. I have always admired folks doing tai chi. What a peaceful art form to bring to children.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

Hi everyone,

I came across this article in Smartbrief and thought it was very applicable to what this discussion is talking about.

Article on EdWeek: Schools Integrate Dance Into Core Academics

I'm excited to see more attention to dance and the arts in media.


Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Thank you Karen Bradley:

Dear Dancers and Arts Educators,

This is one of the best gifts I can share with you all
for the Holiday Season Vacation Time
and your Students and Families and Friends...

It is the link from the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" (APOD) the evening before Thanksgiving: Nova-Ember: Star & Fire: 24, 2010...

(You may have to "buffer" this high definition video
before playing it, if you do not have a High Performance video card...)

I check-in daily at this website because it helps me remember where we all came from...long ago... but not forgotten...

The "Flowing Auroras: Time-Lapse Photographs Over Norway"
by Tor Even Mathisen
is an HD video with quiet music and whispered song...

It tells you why the "Ancients" and the "Native Cultures"
knew that Nature is alive and holy...
I can't make this stuff up; this is our Sky speaking...

Presented courtesy of our government:

No drugs needed; show this to your students if you wish...
Giving thanks to you all here at

This is why I have to dance...

Allen Berg
Kepler's Apprentice

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Colleagues,

I often run up against the artificial division of Arts & Sciences:
"Should I post this video link in our Arts group or our STEM group?"
etc. So I vary my choices, but our Arts group is my Home Group, my
Primal Group, so this "1 Circle Proto" Dance/Arts Performance by Tony
Orrico is going to join our "Dance, anyone?" Discussion for now...

As you will see, he is a contemporary "Vitruvian Man" with a precedent going back to Leonardo Da Vinci's famous drawing of the same name.

A viewer's prefatory note: This is an 18 minute repetitive performance piece by a very physically strong disciplined dancer...that can be challenging to one's observational perserverence (as it is physically challenging to the performer as well), so one may abridge your viewing experience if you so wish by simply 'skipping ahead' through portions of the video, to reach the conclusion drawing and performer's strenuous exit.

"Dance, anyone?"...This one is not for the weak at heart...
This dude is courageous, even lying down...
He earned his "Da Vinci" moniker...

Geometer Allen

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Colleagues,

I'm a dancer, I gotta move...
and a teacher, so I gotta learn...and share...

I came across this youtube video from searching something else...
that's how life is sometimes... :-)

I used to live and teach around the SF Bay Area, so this video "hit home"...even though now I am on the "other coast"...
Neighborhood and 'hood are in my Urban-Z Zone, my Turf DNA...

So here is some Moves from the raw re-al-i-ties...

(The tv news commentary I'll not comment on; the Moves are here
4 U 2 C...)


ann paris's picture

At my school they can have dance in place of P.E. It works out great! Evidently in my area, it is difficult to find teachers who are qualified in both dance and other subjects to fill up a day. It is a shame that schools don't take professional experience into consideration, only degrees. Luckily I have a triple degree in musical theater and music education with a minor in dance. I also like to make them choreograph in groups as their final vocabulary test for each dance style we study. They have to use the vocab. in a group dance. The kinesthetic learners remember the steps because they have to USE them, not in a sentence, but in a DANCE they never forget!


Mary-Helen Rossi's picture
Mary-Helen Rossi
Business Director at Merge Education

Great idea for another group - and i don't think it should be limited to the arts at all.

Christine Termini Passarella's picture
Christine Termini Passarella
Founder of The Kids for Coltrane Project in Education

Ann, how wonderful to learn that your district gives P.E. credit for dance classes. I am certain your students benefit from your lessons in many ways. I use dance with my students during my classroom instruction. I connect the arts to literacy, social studies, math, science and character education. In my school they also bring in fabulous teaching artists who offer dance, but unfortunately the program is only offered to one grade a year. I feel your frustration.
I remember when I was in high school, I had the option of taking tap and jazz classes for P.E. and I can report to you that both classes had a powerful impact me.
Congratulations on the work that you are doing. You are an asset to your school!

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