Typhani Harris | November 2014

Dance Education Conference Recap & Master Class Preview

This past week I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 16th annual National Conference for the National Dance Education Conference Organization. While I spent some time in meetings, I did get the chance to attend a few brilliant sessions. Along with, have a week full of intellectual discourse about the wonderful art of teaching dance.

A couple of things stood out in my mind as the dance education conference came to a close.


The startling statistic that only 58 universities offer a major specializing in dance education. And, only 9% of America’s K12 schools offer dance. This is concerning. As dance educators, we already know we need to keep our voices strong and continue to advocate for dance in school. But, the scary thing is there are a couple hundred schools offering dance majors. Only a quarter of them have a focus on dance education. Unfortunately, of our dance majors only about 5% go onto professional careers leaving 95% to either teach or work in a field outside of the art. So, why are we not offering more instruction in dance education?


We had a great session on the expectations of teacher evaluations. Teacher evaluations are necessary in our schools, but how should dance educators be evaluated? The session had quite a few teachers from New York and New Jersey. They shared how their states are tackling the teacher evaluations by using the Danielson model. They all agreed that this method was effective for all teachers.

However, there are some states utilizing test scores as a component of teacher evaluation. This is completely unreliable when there is no assessment for our subject. We must be proactive with teacher evaluations. Don’t be afraid to educate evaluators about what they should see, and look for, in the dance studio. It was also a great recommendation to request your evaluator come to performances because these are our primary mode of assessment.


We must remember dance is a language and dance literacy should be honored. The term literacy has been thrown around quite a bit in contemporary education. All too often literacy is associated immediately with English language arts. However, literacy is simply encoding and decoding meaning in a symbolic system. So essentially, every subject contains its own symbolic system. Therefore, literacy in all subjects (not just ELA) should be valued.

Which brings me to one of my favorite parts of the dance education conference, presenting on the development of performance tasks for the arts! We had over 50 participants at the session and together we created some amazing performance tasks that can be implemented in the classroom this week.

This month we are offering a Master Class that takes you through the same process! Take a look at my previous articles Gist of the Performance Task and Writing Performance Tasks for a quick review and then join me on November 19th to build your own performance task!

Next Week: Strategies

Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

Next week will be the 4th of 11 articles highlighting each of the anchor standards for Dance. Each article will provide lesson seeds, samples, and assessments for the new national core standards for the arts!

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.