A Hit-and-Run Model: Bringing Dance into Public Schools Through Single-Day Workshops

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Morris, Lindsay
This presentation explores the growing mini-industry of workshops-in-schools as a form of dance education, where an organization provides a single day or full week of dance training in the gym classes. This model positions dance as a special event rather than a permanent component of the curriculum, and contributes to the debate about who should be teaching dance in the public school system. By putting these workshops in the context of the global crisis of education and the Ontario teacher strikes of 2013, this presentation draws attention to the place of dance in our schools more generally. This paper makes use of interviews with directors of three such organizations in southern Ontario, and highlights the challenges that they self-identify within their own programs. It also explains the practical matters of why these organizations emerged, how the programs were designed, what the cost is to the consumer, and how the workshops look on the ground. This paper acknowledges that these workshops provide at-risk students the much-needed opportunity to experience the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of dance,but it argues that the sporadic nature of such exposure to dance may actually do more harm than good. Endorsing work by Connell and Garvis and Pendergast, this paper calls for more collaboration between generalist teachers and dance educators in order to ensure that our kids have the best possible encounters with the arts within the walls of public schools.