Theses Doctoral

Dance Standards in Theory and Practice: A Critical Cultural Perspective

Finkelstein, Joan S.

This qualitative phenomenological collective case study examined the explicit and implicit cultural messages in our current national, New York State, and New York City dance standards through the eyes of their writers and users and a content analysis of the texts, to re-evaluate racial justice and cultural equity in these policy documents. My data were drawn from 15 individual semi-structured interviews with standards writers to unearth the cultural messages they intended to convey; 6 semi-structured small group discussions with 25 PK-12 dance teachers and teaching artists to discover how they perceived these messages; and the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 12th grade benchmarks of the texts.

Participant data were analyzed using emic inductive coding, while the text was analyzed using etic theoretical coding. The spectrum of participant viewpoints revealed both alignments and gaps between writer intentions, teacher perceptions, and the texts. My findings suggested that a Euro Western framework is implicitly embedded in aspects of the standards’ creating, performing, and responding processes, which are presented and may be perceived as colorblind and universal, and that the documents promote multiculturalism but not the social activist goals of culturally relevant pedagogy.

Based on this analysis, I propose that the standards reflect a dance education archival discourse that stems from a creative modern dance lineage, and that including other cultural frameworks for dance across all processes/strands will enhance their equity and multicultural applicability. Issues and implications identified by this research are offered for consideration by future standards writing committees, by dance educators who use the documents, and by the field at large in our ongoing dialogue about cultural equity in dance education theory and practice.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Henley, Matthew Kenney
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 14, 2023