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Since the inception of the organization in 1998, NDEO has been committed to supporting research in the field of dance education. Our primary objectives have been to identify research priorities and in disseminating research through our website, database, scholarly journals, reports, conferences, and other avenues. We see research as integral to our mission to advance dance education for all, as it can help promote better pedagogical practices and raise awareness of issues related to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Jane Bonbright, NDEO Founding Executive Director, highlights the importance of research for advancing the field: “My research was and is directed to providing direction to a field searching to establish dance as an art form in education at the turn of the century forward. Dance education research gave us data upon which to build our identity and provide directions to a new field–exactly why dance education research was imperative and mattered.”
Dance education research shapes the field, helping us reflect on where we have been and providing direction for our future. Research informs dance pedagogy, uncovering safer and more effective teaching methods across dance genres. It influences administration and policy, demonstrating the need for and benefit of more inclusivity, equity, and accessibility in dance education. And it can provide the data, statistics, and stories needed for effective advocacy and promotion of dance education. As NDEO member Paola Maria Bassignana of Teachers College at Columbia University puts it, “Research in dance education is a way to promote tomorrow’s goals by looking at the past and today’s issues.”
Research is also important because it connects disparate areas of the dance field, as Peter Cook of the University of Southern Queensland in Australia reminds us: “Dance education research considers phenomena regarding all aspects of dance performance, composition, appreciation, education, impact, and dissemination. Dance and dance education research is a constantly evolving field that has discipline focuses and is inter/disciplinary in that it has crossed into many fields.”
Beyond our field, dance education research has influenced many other areas. “Dance research attests to the importance of the arts in education, funding, governance, health, and society's well-being, making a case for advocacy in legislation and proactive politics invested in developing our society's spiritual, physical, and intellectual capacity through dance,” says Dr. Gabriela Estrada, Advisory Council Research Advisor. As Kikora Franklin of Penn State University summarizes: “Dance education research has impacts on fields beyond dance and dance education.”
Photo credits from top to bottom: Courtesy of Once Upon a Dance by Dan Lao; Courtesy of Katrina Brown-Aliffi by Youngjae Hur