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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Hayes, Elizabeth
Dance in academe: [dance in the universities: yesterday, today and tomorrow],   pp. 340-[345] PDF (6.1 MB)


Page 340


by Elizabeth Hayes
Director of Modern Dance, University of Utah
For many years the principal function of
dance education in colleges and universities
was that of providing a pleasurable form of
physical and sometimes creative activity for
the masses. The program was not designed
to prepare students to become professional
dancers. College prospects who had a pro-
fessional dance career as their goal were
advised to forget a liberal education and to
rush posthaste to New York where they could
study first-hand with famous professional
dancers who were teaching in order to sup-
port their companies. As interest in dance
and the demand for qualified teachers
increased, physical education curriculums
were expanded to encompass the specialized
preparation of dance teachers. The first
teacher-education major curriculum for dance,
established by Margaret H'Doubler at the
University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1927,
provided an exemplary model for other insti-
tutions. The program centered around a scien-
tific understanding of the human body and
how it operates as well as around an aware-
ness of human behavior, and the universal
need to create and communicate. The new
curriculum utilized opportunities afforded by
the University to study biology, human
340
anatomy, physiology and kinesiology as well
as psychology and philosophy. Students were
exposed to courses in the related arts-
particularly music and art history. And within
the dance curriculum itself there were courses
in rhythmic analysis, dance history and dance
philosophy-especially as it applied to edu-
cation, and there were also opportunities for
student teaching. The technique offerings
were limited in comparison to present day
standards, and there were no formal labora-
tory classes in composition; but there were
ample opportunities for students to improvise
and to make creative discoveries in their
technique classes, and to compose dances
extracurricularly. Regrettably, not all institu-
tions that later undertook the training of dance
teachers patterned their programs after such
a well-rounded model.
The scope of dance education in universities
as described above remained little changed
for some fifteen or twenty years. However,
creation of the famous Bennington College
Summer School of Dance in the middle thirties
brought dance educators and professionals
together with the result that dance in educa-
tion was now made technically more chal-
lenging than before, and college students
were introduced to formalized approaches to
dance composition. Student dance concerts
in universities became increasingly mature


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