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K-12 Dance Education Careers

Backround

In 2023, NDEO reached out to members teaching in K-12 education to get their perspective and insight into their experience. There were 46 members (from 21 different states) spanning across elementary, middle, and high schools (public, private, charter / magnet) who responded to a variety of questions listed below including:

  • Why they chose a career in K-12 dance education
  • How K-12 dance education in elementary, middle, and high schools differs from dance in the independent sector dance studio setting
  • Their advice for students who are considering a career in K-12 dance education
  • How to build, fund, and gain support for your K-12 dance program
  • Their best practices for curriculum design and lesson planning, class management, and relationship building with students, parents, school administration, and community partners

The responses from the 46 NDEO members served as the foundation and framework for the creation of these K-12 Dance Education Careers webpages.  

Introduction

A group of young students and a teacher make a circle by holding hands inside a dance studio.

The landscape of dance education in America’s K-12 schools is dynamic and diverse, catering to a wide array of students with varying interests and levels of experience. Through dance education in K-12 schools, many students receive their first introduction to dance, and go on to develop an appreciation for dance that will last a lifetime. Dance classes in K-12 schools increase access to dance across the country, reaching students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue dance training. While the exact number of schools offering dance programs is challenging to pinpoint, organizations like the Arts Education Data Project (AEDP) are working to gather and analyze this data.

Across the United States, dance programs are found in various educational settings, ranging from arts-focused magnet or charter schools providing conservatory-level training, to traditional public or private schools offering dance as part of the core curriculum, a fine arts elective, or integrated into other subjects.

Dance is taught in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in the United States. While dance is available at every grade level, according to data compiled through AEDP, it is most commonly offered in high schools. The data collected from 17 states during the 2018-2019 school year showed that dance was offered in 15% of High Schools, compared to 4% of Elementary Schools, 6% of Middle Schools, and 10% of mixed grade schools.

Moreover, dance education in elementary, middle, and high schools extends beyond the confines of the classroom, with opportunities available in after-school programs and extracurricular activities. These include after-school classes, dance, poms or drill teams, and dance clubs, all of which contribute to fostering a rich and vibrant dance culture within K-12 educational environments.

A group of high school dance students in white football jerseys smiling in a group on a football field

Embarking on a career as a dance educator in K-12 schools can be immensely fulfilling, providing the opportunity to share your passion for the art form while enjoying the stability and rewards often associated with this profession.

Whether you're already a part of this community or considering joining it, these webpages are designed to support and empower dance educators like you. Through resources, professional development opportunities, and a supportive network of fellow educators, NDEO can help enhance your teaching practice, enrich the lives of your students, and contribute to the growth and sustainability of dance education in K-12 schools across the nation.

Photo Credits (in order or appearance): Photo courtesy of Ann Robideaux by Shonell Best, photo courtest if Ashley Zardus of Novi Dance Company

National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)

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