In 2019, when Teachers College established the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership, the goal was to help create a world in which the art of dance and opportunities for high-quality pre-K–12 dance education are accessible, equitable and excellent for all learners.

That same vision guides the work of dance education luminary and advocate Jody Gottfried Arnhold (M.A. ’73). A generous gift by Jody and John Arnhold funded creation of the Institute and, three years earlier, TC’s doctoral program in dance education. And it’s consistent with the century-plus legacy in dance education of Teachers College, which is recognized in scholarship as the birthplace of dance as an academic field in U.S. pre-K-12 and post-secondary education.

Now, in its inaugural symposium — to be webcast on April 8th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. — the Arnhold Institute will make good on its mission. Titled “Pioneering Visions for Access and Equity in Dance Education,” the event will examine 100 years of dance history beginning with the Harlem Renaissance and focus on two early Black leaders who shaped the field of dance and dance education at the crossroads of Teachers College and beyond.  

[Click here to register for the symposium and/or to view the talks after the event. All of the Arnhold Institute Symposium lectures are free and open to the public and will be available on the Arnhold Institute website for repeat viewing after the initial celebratory broadcast on April 8th.] 

MAKING THE PAST ACCESSIBLE Barbara Bashaw, Arnhold Professor of Practice in Dance Education, Executive Director of the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy and Leadership, and Director of TC’s Dance Education Doctoral Program, had planned for an on-campus event, but says she embraces “the opportunity to make the symposium scholars and BIPOC history accessible in a virtual, online format.” (Photo: TC Archives)

“We believe it is important to reexamine dance and dance education history and reclaim the work of important Black and African American pioneers because those histories and accomplishments have largely been ignored,” says Barbara Bashaw, Arnhold Professor of Practice in Dance Education, who serves as the Executive Director of both the Institute and the doctoral program.

We believe it is important to reexamine dance and dance education history and reclaim the work of important Black and African American pioneers because those histories and accomplishments have largely been ignored.

—Barbara Bashaw, Arnhold Professor of Practice in Dance Education and Executive Director of the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy and Leadership

Four guest scholars at the symposium will examine history and celebrate the work of dancer and dance educator Beryl McBurnie (1913-2000), a native of Trinidad known as “La Belle Rosette” who studied at Teachers College, performed during the latter part of the Harlem Renaissance and actively promoted Caribbean dance and culture in the United States; and Charles Holston Williams (1886-1978), the founder, organizer and first director of the Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group, the first national touring company composed of college students, and one of the earliest groups to perform a repertoire of African dance, spirituals, and modern dance in U.S. venues. Punctuated by a video performance of historically reconstructed dance, the Arnhold Institute Symposium will also explore the past century as a path to reexamine how dance and dance education can create a better world in the 21st century and beyond.

We believe it is important to reexamine dance and dance education history and reclaim the work of important Black and African American pioneers because those histories and accomplishments have largely been ignored.

—Barbara Bashaw, Arnhold Professor of Practice in Dance Education and Executive Director of the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy and Leadership

The symposium draws on the work of four renowned scholars. John O. Perpener III, an independent dance historian, is the author of African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (2001). Mary Ann Laverty, a dance educator and former President of the National Dance Society, is the author of Finding a Way Out: Charles H. Williams and the Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group (2012). Judy Raymond is Editor-in-Chief for Trinidad & Tobago Newsday and author of the biography, Beryl McBurnie (2018). Ojeya Cruz Banks, who will speak on “Revisioning Dance Education through Black, African, Indigenous Perspectives,” is Associate Professor of Dance and Black Studies at Denison University.

After each presentation, doctoral students in the Dance Education program will join the scholars to ask questions in a recorded Q&A with each scholar. 

“Given the Arnhold Institute’s vision and mission, we wanted to align the inaugural symposium in conjunction with ‘Creating a Better World: Teachers College Celebrates the Harlem Renaissance,’ the College’s ongoing celebration of the Harlem Renaissance, where it will be a part of a series of lectures and events across the College,” says Bashaw. “Originally we planned it as an on-campus gathering for March 2020, but we embrace the opportunity to make the symposium scholars and BIPOC history accessible in a virtual, online format.”