Dancing around the Edges: Dance in the Primary School

By Miriam Torzillo.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Dance is part of mandatory primary arts curricula in Queensland, Australia. Yet despite an extensive body of literature supporting its contribution to education and its appeal to young people, the teaching of dance by generalist classroom teachers is minimal, if at all. This has been attributed to teachers’ resistance to teaching dance, possibly due to lack of experience and understanding of the value of this art form. Nonetheless, there are some schools in Queensland where teachers actively teach dance to their students. This presentation describes a case study in two Queensland primary schools where dance is taught. It explores teachers’ and students’ experiences of dance. Teachers in this study tended to draw upon their experiences of dance as a creative process gained during their professional development days, and their developments were strengthened by the encouragement and validation of a critical friend or mentor. Students found their expression through dance to be pleasurable and fulfilling. They commended its collaborative nature, the element of choice, and the relative freedom creating dance gave them “to be” in their bodies. Findings suggest that rather than learning more content, dance professional development for teachers should be hands-on experiences of creating dance in a collaborative setting. Research into what actually happens in dance classrooms is needed in order to “give voice” to teachers who have developed professional practice knowledge in dance, and can therefore provide images of what is possible in dance education.

Keywords: Dance Education, Dance in Primary Schools, Teacher Change

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.25-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.400MB).

Miriam Torzillo

Lecturer and Postgraduate Student, School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Miriam Torzillo teaches arts education at James Cook University in Cairns, and works as a dance specialist in primary schools. She is currently undertaking doctoral studies in education at JCU.