Visionary Benefactor

Visionary Benefactor


Jody Gottfried Arnhold (M.A. ’73) and her husband John have given $4.365 million to Teachers College to establish an innovative and unique dance education doctoral program. The focus is on preparing master dance educators – the teachers of aspiring dance teachers – along with dance researchers and policy experts who will advance Arnhold’s ultimate goal: making dance education a staple in American public schools.  

Dance – meaning not just technique, but also improvisation and choreography –fosters “collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, citizenship,” Arnhold says. Beyond its practice by supremely gifted dance artists, she sees dance as a medium for developing an understanding of the world, as John Dewey, TC’s iconic philosopher, argued that education must be. “I really believe that (dance) will help foster world peace,” says Arnhold.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, which offered the nation’s first dance education program, and of Teachers College, where the field of dance education was conceived, Arnhold taught dance in the New York City public schools for 25 years. She has since led a major expansion and improvement of dance instruction in New York. With Joan Finkelstein, she founded 92Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL), which provides teacher training and professional development. She was Chair of Ballet Hispanico for 15 years and is now Honorary Chair. In 2012, she endowed the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College. In 2005, together with Finkelstein (then Director of Dance for the New York City Department of Education) and Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispanico’s Director, Arnhold led the development of the city’s Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance, Pre K-12.

In 2015, Arnhold teamed with director Nel Shelby and Finkelstein (now Executive Director of the Harkness Foundation for Dance) as executive producer to create the documentary PS DANCE!, narrated by veteran TV journalist Paula Zahn. The New York Emmy-nominated film offers an exuberant look at the teaching of dance in five New York City public schools. Airing on WNET/THIRTEEN in New York and on public television stations nationwide, PS DANCE! was created to promote Arnhold’s mission, “Dance For Every Child.” 

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