There Is No Dance Without Dance Education, Jody Gottfried Arnhold Says

by Joe Holman
There Is No Dance Without Dance Education, Jody Gottfried Arnhold Says

Then, in 2018, came the doctorate program at Teachers College and the establishment there of the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership. “We need the research,” said Barbara Bashaw, the Arnhold Professor of Practice in Dance Education. “Our students are getting jobs before they graduate.”

One of the first graduates is Chell Parkins. The program, she said, gives her the theory and scholarship to promote dance education more effectively. That’s what she is now doing as the first Arnhold Director of Dance Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

THIS CHAIN OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS could not have happened without Arnhold’s strategic vision. Nor could it have happened without Arnhold money. “I had something I wanted to do, and John has supported every one of my ideas as it got bigger and bigger,” Arnhold said. “That’s not a given, and I’m very lucky. I married the right guy.”

She has built a pipeline, a network, an army. The institutions she has established are led almost exclusively by people inspired by her, mentored by her, pushed and supported by her, who take her advice and promote her ideas. That one person can wield so much influence might trouble some. But it cheers the many who have benefited.

“She sees people’s potential and helps them realize it,” said Finkelstein, who just earned her doctorate from Teachers College. “She could spend that money on anything. She’s spending it on dance and dance education.”

“It’s not just me anymore,” Arnhold said. “It’s all these people who got the message.” And she isn’t finished. There are still hundreds of New York City public schools without dance teachers. “Then there’s the rest of the state, and the country, and the world,” she said, laughing.

“I want to tighten the web so nobody can escape a dance education.”

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