Jody and John Arnhold have donated $6.085 million to Teachers College to launch an institute dedicated to developing leadership and expanding the evidence base in dance education through new research and the reevaluation of existing knowledge in the field.
The Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership will champion research that provides a rationale for public policies that will eliminate disparities in the availability of high-quality dance education, especially in pre-K-12 public education. Dance is often one of the biggest casualties of an overall lack of access to the arts and opportunities for embodied learning.
The gift to establish the Institute builds on the Arnholds’ 2016 commitment to TC of $4.365 million, which established a new doctoral program in dance education. It is the only doctoral program in dance education in the country. The first cohort of doctoral students matriculated in Fall 2018. With the two gifts, the Arnholds have given a total of $10.45 million to Teachers College to advance dance education nationwide.
“The establishment of the Arnhold Institute at Teachers College is a critically important step toward realizing the vision to which I’ve devoted my career – a quality, sequential dance education for every child,” said Jody Gottfried Arnhold (M.A. ’73), who taught dance in New York City public schools for 25 years and earned her master’s degree at Teachers College in Dance Education.
The establishment of the Arnhold Institute at Teachers College is a critically important step toward realizing the vision to which I’ve devoted my career – a quality, sequential dance education for every child.
—Jody Gottfried Arnhold (M.A. ’73)
“This is an enormous opportunity for Teachers College to affect the fundamental conditions of growth and human development for young people nationally,” said Teachers College President Thomas Bailey. “We want all young people to experience the artistry of dance, as well as the cognitive and personal development that are enhanced through the discipline.”
“There is nothing in the nation like the Arnhold Institute,” said Barbara Bashaw, who has been named Arnhold Professor of Practice, Director of the Dance Education Program and Director of the Arnhold Institute of Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership after leading the doctoral program as a visiting associate professor during the past year. “Dance education is a very young field. We need more research on pre-K-12 learning, on teaching approaches, and on equity issues.”
This is an enormous opportunity for Teachers College to affect the fundamental conditions of growth and human development for young people nationally.
—TC President Thomas Bailey
Research conducted by the Arnhold Institute will be disseminated to inform policy and practice, providing much-needed guidance and evidence-based recommendations for dance educators, school systems, universities and cultural organizations across the country and around the world. The main focus of both the doctoral program and the new Institute will be the advancement of pre-K-12 dance education in public schools.
The Institute also will serve as a hub through which Teachers College students and faculty can collaborate with practitioners from the broader dance education landscape. These relationships will inspire new thinking and scholarship and foster professional networks and standardized practices to further formalize pre-K-12 dance education and teacher preparation as a field of academic study and inquiry. The leaders who emerge will change the face of dance education.
Creating a Dance Education Pipeline
The creation of the Arnhold Institute is the crowning step in a series of creative and philanthropic efforts undertaken over the past several decades by Jody Gottfried Arnhold – called “the godmother of dance” by The Wall Street Journal – all aimed at creating a pipeline of professionals who can serve the field of dance education on different fronts.
[Read a profile of Jody Gottfried Arnhold that appeared in the fall/winter 2016 issue of TC Today, the magazine of Teachers College. Read a roundtable discussion among nationally recognized dance leaders about the need for the Arnhold Institute.]
As a dance educator in the New York City Department of Education, Arnhold saw firsthand the transformative effect of a quality dance education on students, their classrooms, the school, and the community. An early partnership between her school and Ballet Hispánico showed her the power of a dance educator and cultural organization working together in a school. She subsequently became Ballet Hispánico’s board chair and helped build it into an internationally acclaimed performance and teaching force.
Dance education is a very young field. We need more research on pre-K-12 learning, on teaching approaches, and on equity issues.
—Barbara Bashaw, Arnhold Institute Director
Arnhold’s other contributions include founding the 92Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL); serving as Co-Chair of the New York City Department of Education Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance (pre-K-12); providing support for dance educators, especially new teachers and pre-K teachers; creating a graduate dance education program at Hunter College as a pipeline for prepared and certified dance educators; and creating the Teachers College doctoral program, which focuses on the headwaters of the field by preparing university-level faculty to teach dance educators and conduct research. She also served as executive producer of PS DANCE!, the 2015 EMMY-nominated documentary film that has called widespread attention to dance education in New York City.
“As a result of Jody’s foresight, commitment and generosity, there are now generations of new certified dance teachers teaching in K-12 schools and a growing corps of faculty at universities and colleges – and now, because of the Arnhold Institute, there will be strong, trained voices using data to create a broader environment that supports and enhances the power of dance and dance education,” says Bashaw.
A Proud History
Teachers College has been a pioneer in the field of dance education since the early 20th century, when Margaret H’Doubler (pronounced “Dobler”), a visiting physical education professor with a degree in biology and philosophy, worked with TC faculty (including Gertrude Colby and John Dewey) and subsequently returned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to develop the nation’s first dance degree program in 1926. Nested within the physical education department, she built upon Colby’s vision of “creative dance,” in which each person becomes a “creative dance maker” with an individual vocabulary of movement.
“There is a great history here,” said Teachers College's former Provost Thomas James, Professor of History & Education. “John Dewey’s book, Art as Experience, has been seminal in understanding the aesthetics of fields in the arts and particularly the preparation of pedagogy. We have faculty in philosophy, history, music, cognitive science, kinesiology – so dance is a natural completion of the arc.”
The College maintained a master’s degree program in dance education until 2005. In addition to Arnhold, TC alumni include many accomplished and influential leaders in the world of dance, including Martha Hill, the first Director of Dance at the Juilliard School; Beryl McBurnie (“La Belle Rosette"), founder of Trinidad's Little Carib Theatre; Rachel Moore, President and CEO of LA’s Music Center and former Executive Director of American Ballet Theatre; Catherine Tharin, Dance Curator; Annie-B Parson, the choreographer and Co-Director of Big Dance Theater; and Sin Cha Hong, the noted South Korean dancer, choreographer, vocalist and writer.
Hitting the Ground Running
But where the master’s degree program prepared dance educators, the doctoral program established with the Arnholds’ previous gift is unique in focusing on those who educate dance educators – master teachers who work at the headwaters of the field. The Arnhold Institute will build on that effort by ensuring a central presence for dance within education.
Jody Arnhold has demonstrated time and again how big ideas are transformed into breakthrough initiatives through the power of strategic philanthropic partnerships with outstanding academic institutions. Her big idea – and dream – of making dance education an essential part of every school child's experience is now closer to being realized through a partnership with Teachers College and its extensive research and teaching expertise.
—Suzanne M. Murphy, Vice President, Development & External Affairs
“Jody Arnhold has demonstrated time and again how big ideas are transformed into breakthrough initiatives through the power of strategic philanthropic partnerships with outstanding academic institutions,” says Suzanne M. Murphy, TC’s Vice President for Development & External Affairs. “In this case, her big idea – and dream – of making dance education an essential part of every school child's experience is now closer to being realized through a partnership with Teachers College and its extensive research and teaching expertise.”
Among the early priorities of the Institute will be:
- To establish a network of key partners, policy makers, and centers within New York City, across the United States and abroad to share data, leverage human and financial resources.
- To conduct a gap analysis to compare actual “current state” with potential “desired future state” of dance education policy and practice.
- To cultivate research examining pre-K-12 dance teacher educators and their students in the United States. For example, a historical examination of the first pioneering dance teacher educators would form a landscape from which to examine qualitatively the current context and issues of pre-PK-12 dance teacher educators and the university programs they lead. The development of a comprehensive survey of pre-K-12 and postsecondary dance education programs, their faculty, students, and graduates would provide a complementary source of quantitative data.
- Develop the strategic plan for a Dance Education Leadership Academy, a continuing education program aimed at developing leadership capacity for pre-K-12 dance educators and dance teacher educators across multiple sectors of the field, aiming for a coalition of 50 states and representation from abroad (implementation in years 4-6).
Longer-term objectives will include the development of:
- policy models to support dance education in states and localities;
- a framework for educational policies and standards that could be used by schools, school systems and universities to enable the requirement of dance education within school curricula;
- professional development for education and policy decision makers especially principals and school leaders to incorporate the goals of high-quality dance pedagogy into their vision of change in education; and
- presentations for professional meetings of school leaders and policy makers to showcase the great value of dance in plans for improving schools.
“Children are our youngest artists, and we all have a responsibility to them,” says Arnhold. “I want dance at the table, wherever and whenever education is discussed.”