Ross, J. Art and Community: Creating Knowledge Through Service in Dance. In Deasy, R. J. (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development (p. 23). Washington, D.C.: Arts Education Partnership.
Author Affiliations: NA
Program Description: Jazz and hip-hop dance classes
Program (Study)Location: NA
Study Presented: 2000
Participant Type: At-risk and Incarcerated adolescents aged 13-17
Sample Size: 60
Data Type: Qualitative: Teacher observation, interviews, reflection journals, in-class discussions, written syntheses
Evaluation Focus: This study sought to address the following questions: How does dance instruction affect self-perception and social development for at-risk and incarcerated adolescents? How does participant/observation research by undergraduates in a dance-centered service-learning project affect perceptions of the purposes of arts generally and dance specifically in the undergraduates’ and the lives of others? (p.12)
Summary of Impact: Produced hypotheses about why dance may be a medium particularly well suited to “fostering positive self-perception and social development for disenfranchised adolescents,” including the influence of teachers and teaching styles generally employed in dance; culturally valued leisure activities; the release of physical and psychological stress in which “expression, not conquest” is the activity’s goal (in contrast to team sports); the focus of instruction on practicing non-linguistic bodily expression, which is a primary vehicle through which maladaptive social behaviors are conveyed; and the need and opportunity in dance to express individuality within a group, which provides practice with issues central to developing positive social identity and adaptability” (p.23).
● Dance may be a medium well suited to fostering positive self-perception and social development for disenfranchised adolescents.
● Congruence of dance, service (providing data to prison administration about the dance program’s effectiveness), and research (placing college dance students in a social/therapeutic context and requiring reflection about impact and uses of the discipline) is an effective tool for advancing college students’ learning.
KEYWORDS: dance, hip-hop, jazz, juvenile, service learning, youth