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Dance Pedagogy Programs


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I have been a ballet instructor for almost 25 years, in many different areas of the spectrum. I have taught at universities, professionally affiliated company schools and private studios. I currently own a small ballet school and have a few high school students interested in pursuing dance at the college level, but as teachers, rather than performers. Can anyone shed some light on any college dance programs that have a strong focus on teaching? I know that there are several out there that have degrees pertaining to K-12 teaching in states where dance is mandated as a part of the school curriculum ( Ohio and North Carolina come to mind)--but I am more interested in knowing whether there are any higher-ed programs that have a strong focus on training their graduates to teach dance in the studio environment, at the pre-pro level, and at the college level.


My experience with college programs is that most are performance oriented, and offer, at best, rudimentary education in actual dance pedagogy skills. Many graduates of these programs, whether they ultimately perform for a while or not, end up teaching. My area is home to a college with a relatively prestigious performance program, and quite a few of the graduates become teachers--but in my experience, they have not been adequately prepared as dance educators. I would like to be able to direct my students to programs that have a strong emphasis on dance education.


I would appreciate any feedback that anyone can offer.

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Canada's National Ballet School offers this option in partnership with two Universities, York and Simon Fraser. It takes 5 years to complete.

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Texas Woman's University... but again, it is probably not totally ballet focused (which is good in a way as it offers more career pathways)

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Butler University's dance program offers a concentration in dance pedagogy. I also understand that Hope College (in Holland, Michigan) has a dance pedagogy program.

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Butler University now has a ballet pedagogy degree program. When I was a student there(late '80s), pedagogy was offered only as an elective in the Bachelor's program for a degree in performance.

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For teaching at college level, an MFA will certainly be required. There seems to be quite a wide range of MFA degree geared towards teaching. Do a search, I believe we had a recent discussion on this topic.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Tangerinetwist, are you sure Butler has a ballet-focused pedagogy program? It does not appear that way on their website. In fact, it looks as though one has to take jazz and modern as well (if you click on "View Curriculum" under "Bachelor of Arts in Dance - Pedagogy").


Oklahoma University's Pedagogy Program is ballet-focused. Unfortunately, I could not find any faculty bios, so I am unable to judge the quality of the program.

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Programs at Butler are ballet based; however, many ballet based programs (for example, IU's performance program, which is very much ballet based) also require some modern or jazz classes. This might not be such a bad idea for pedagogy majors. Outside of large cities or college programs, a lot of teachers may also be required to teach the occasional modern or jazz class (certainly not the ideal situation but the reality in a lot of places). Not to mention that contemporary ballet choreography requires some knowledge of modern.

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What concerns me is whether the school would work around someone who perhaps is retired or injured and no longer able to learn a completely new form of dance well enough to be able to teach it, not that a mere four years of study will really qualify one for that anyway.

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In response to how Butler's pedagogy program would suit the more "mature" artist, I would contact the department directly. I was a student there almost 20 years ago, and the entire program was performance-based. A lot of technique classes were required in ballet(this is what the Butler program is most well-known for) and modern as well as Spanish, Slavic, jazz, and tap. Participation in Butler Ballet involves rehearsals as well as on-stage performance. Michelle Jarvis is the current department chair and my former advisor. I would ask to speak directly with her for more information on individual circumstances.

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Butler's program is ballet-based, through and through. The jazz, modern, tap, etc. are adjunct courses to help round the dancer. I was once told that 'Butler Ballet' (the performance opportunities) is an elective that any of the concentrations may choose to take--but that may have changed for at least some of the degree years. The performance majors must take it (but why wouldn't they :) ).


The pedagogy majors take primarily the same courses as the performance majors, as do the administration majors. Each concentration has a few courses unique to it, though. Butler Dance Concentration Curricula


On a day-to-day basis, the teachers (and even Ms. Jarvis) don't really know who is a performance majors, who is a pedagogy major, and who is an admin major--mostly because there is apparently no reason to know. The dancers can change their concentration during the four years.


The pedagogy majors do take specific course(s) for teaching techniques and do student teaching at Jordan Acadamy of Dance (Butler's pre-professional school). The students are required to observe class at Jordan for a specified time period and then actually teach the class a couple of times toward the end of the semester. (I think how many times they teach depends upon Jordan's schedule, the number of pedagogy majors at the time, and Butler's schedule). The teacher and Ms. Jarvis observe and critique the pedagogy major's class teaching (privately, of course).


There are often Butler dance students who begin their degree work after dancing professionally for a few years or more. Most typically, those students have come for a pedagogy or admin concentration, but they still dance.

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