For Jody Gottfried Arnhold (MA, 1973), there have been many in recent years as she has witnessed the growth of TC’s unique doctoral program in dance and performance education. ‘Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy and Leadership she funded and inspired, when she looked back on her time on campus in the early 1970s.
She remembered the beautiful dance studio on the 4th floor of Horace Mann Hall with large windows and a striking view of Broadway and 120th Street, as well as a black box theater on the ground floor. “There was a lobby, a ticket office, a little theatre, although I think I remember it was bigger, and changing rooms with lights around the mirror, and it was perfect,” Arnhold recalled in a recent interview.
These memories prompted Arnhold to begin interviewing some of his former classmates about what they remembered about the space, and eventually arranging a visit with the trustees of Teachers College to explore what was left of the old layout.
But Jody Gottfried Arnhold’s interest was not just his personal curiosity. Instead, she saw the restoration of a modern, fully up-to-date dance studio for teaching, performance and for research projects as the logical next step for the project she helped inspire in 2016. Its mission has been to make Teachers College a national leader in dance education, expanding its leadership in the field, through its unique doctoral program as well as the Arnhold Institute which champions and leads policy-relevant dance education research – to blaze new trails in PK-12 education and eliminate disparities in the availability of high-quality dance education for children, families, and the communities.
Now Jody and John Arnhold and the Arnhold Foundation have donated $5 million to build the Arnhold Dance Education Research Studios, a state-of-the-art 5,000 square foot facility that will reclaim the ground floor of Horace Mann Hall with – space dance studios. The new space will both advance research and teaching around dance education and also foster collaborative projects with community groups and cultural partners.
“This marks another milestone for arts and education at Teachers College that will help ensure that teaching dance is an essential part of a well-rounded education.”
“The new Arnhold Dance Education Research Studio space will affirm and advance core elements of the founding principles of Teachers College: to empower teachers and schools to provide culturally relevant opportunities for growth and development for every child, everywhere,” said TC President Thomas Bailey.
“This marks another milestone for arts and education at Teachers College that will help ensure that teaching dance is a central part of a comprehensive education,” Bailey said.
As planners begin to draw up plans for the studios, the dance education doctoral program launched in 2016 with funding from the Arnholds prepares to enroll its fifth cohort and hear doctoral dissertations from its first class of future leaders. in the field. In total, Jody and John Arnhold and the Arnhold Foundation have now donated $15 million for the doctoral program, the founding in 2019 of the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy and Leadership, and new studios.
“We are extremely grateful to Jody and John Arnhold and the Arnhold Foundation for helping us realize the full potential of the PhD program and the Arnhold Institute as we blaze new trails and transform dance and dance education. nationally and internationally,” said Barbara Bashaw (Ed. D. ’11, MA ’96), Arnhold Professor of Dance Education and Executive Director of the Doctoral Program in Dance Education and the Arnhold Institute.
The brilliance of the new facility will cap off an impressive resurgence in dance education at Teachers College. The school had developed the concept of dance as an arts education within academia in the early 20th century with the pioneering work of Professor Gertrude Colby and long remained a leader in the field.
Today, teaching dance at Teachers College is inextricably linked to Arnhold’s personal perseverance, his vision which began to take shape in the 1970s with college education and public school work. of New York, and her passionate belief that American youth need a dance education to reach their full potential.
At a time when the United States grapples with political divisions, as well as the impact of two years of COVID-19-related closures and disruptions on students nationwide, Arnhold can sum up his rationale for expanding the three-word dance education: “To save democracy.” And Arnhold makes a powerful argument that it’s not hyperbole – that young people who spend part of their school day in a dance studio can provide a framework for physical fitness, for creativity and critical thinking, and for fostering perseverance and hard work that will one day transfer to the workplace.
“I’m all for science, technology, engineering and math…but these scientists, technologists, mathematicians and engineers need the arts – they need to have the arts,” Arnhold said, addressing the emphasis today on so-called STEM courses. “It’s the soul, it’s what holds everything together. And having generations of people who haven’t had that in their life, in their upbringing, I think that’s a big problem.
Indeed, Arnhold remains so focused on advancing dance education in part because she feels that the current state of dance education in America has, in her direct words, “a way to go. Browse”. Precise numbers are hard to find. But after decades of arts budget cuts, most U.S. K-12 schools (88% according to a 2017 survey) don’t offer a sequential dance education curriculum. Many people and organizations across the country are working to change that.
New York City has bucked this trend in recent years, and Arnhold has been at the center of this reversal. The roster of public school dance teachers in the city more than quadrupled from 2004 to 2016 and continued to grow. Many of these new teachers trained at the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College, which she endowed with a gift in 2012. And many were trained with techniques honed at the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) 92nd Street Y qu ‘Arnhold founded with Joan Finkelstein. , who became head of dance education for the city’s Department of Education, now earning her doctorate through the Teachers College program.
One remarkable thing about Arnhold’s passion for dance education is how it grew organically from both his passion for the arts and for learning. Her childhood studies in Washington, DC, with modern dance pioneer Erika Thimey inspired her to attend the University of Wisconsin, which had an acclaimed program. But a detour into general education brought her to New York City to teach in public schools, where her desire to better teach underprivileged students on Manhattan’s West Side combined with her graduate studies at Teacher College. At PS 75, Arnhold would both teach dance and create a model curriculum and forge strong ties with the local community. Hispanic Ballet —of which she is President Emeritus.
“I’m interested in equity and access,” Arnhold said. “I want dance education for every child in every school, regardless of their postcode.” This philosophy has led to a number of projects, including helping the city’s Department of Education develop its master plan for K-12 dance teaching and learning. She is the executive producer of the New York Emmy nominated documentary PS DANCE!. Its sequel, PS DANCE! THE NEXT GENERATION airing throughout June and will air again on July 17.
But his efforts to support Teachers College over the past six years have been instrumental in tying all this work together, creating a new generation of teacher educators and thought leaders who are developing strategies to expand and improve teaching. dance across the United States.
Since the Arnholds’ first donation in 2016, five cohorts of more than 40 students have worked toward their doctorates in dance education, nine of whom are preparing to defend their theses and graduate with the first batch of degrees in 2023-24. The members of the pioneer group are already highly accomplished educators. They include Finkelstein, who is studying how to make dance education standards more culturally appropriate, as well as leaders like Pascal Rekoert, who currently directs the dance teacher preparation program at Central Connecticut State University, and Chell Parkins, who is a Ballet Hispánico Dance Education Fellow. – in residence.
The new studios that will be funded through Arnhold’s $5 million donation is a logical next step for the initiative. The installation will connect Horace Mann’s grounds to the offices of the Arnhold Institute, allowing scholars and researchers to interact with teachers and dancers while bringing their ideas to life. The studios will also house the offices of the doctoral program.
Stephanie Rowley, Vice President, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at TC added, “In any discipline, research is essential to find out what works for each learner. For the Dance Education PhD program, this means providing the best possible space to examine and share successful methods of embodied research, teaching, and learning.
“Research will take place in these studios — research by students, by faculty, by institute fellows,” Arnhold said. “These people need space.” Going forward, Arnhold said she would also like to see the program expand its geographic reach so that teachers spread the gospel of dance education to every corner of the United States. “We have to go national,” she said. “That means every child in every school, every child in every school in every city and every state.”
Beyond that, Arnhold isn’t sure what’s next in his odyssey to expand dance education, but it’s far from over. “We’re building a field here and it’s really an opportunity for dance teachers – there’s no end to what they can accomplish,” said Jody Gottfried Arnhold. “If I have no other idea, they will!”