Why We Are Committed to Dance
The Dodge Dance Initiative
Dance is like poetry. Many people are uncomfortable with it. They feel like they can’t enjoy it because they don’t understand it. As a leading private funder of the arts in New Jersey, Dodge believes in the arts’ ability to offer us emotion and insight, enhancing our individual and collective lives. Dance is no exception.
The Dodge Foundation established its Dance initiative with two overarching goals: to help fund and strengthen dance companies and choreographers, and to boost dance education in schools so that students can learn about dance as a form of creative expression.
“Dance is like poetry. Many people are uncomfortable with it. They feel like they can’t enjoy it because they don’t understand it.”
Strengthening the Field
Given a general lack of understanding about dance, it’s no surprise that it is incredibly difficult for choreographers and dance companies to create effective boards and find funding, whether from individuals or from corporate or foundation grants. Through the Dodge Dance initiative, Dodge funds a variety of dance companies and choreographers directly, as well as Dance New Jersey, the premiere dance service organization in New Jersey.
In supporting Dance New Jersey, Dodge aims to develop and grow the field of dance, much the same way it strives to strengthen the nonprofit sector through its Technical Assistance initiative. Dance New Jersey offers an ever-growing menu of programs and services to its members including combined auditions and a job fair for the dance community, professional development workshops, and a comprehensive inventory of dance rehearsal, performance and event space throughout New Jersey.
Promoting Dance in School
An essential part of developing the field is the promotion of dance in school, to foster a lifelong appreciation for and understanding of dance. But promoting dance in the schools faces its own set of obstacles. In New Jersey, there are core curriculum requirements for dance, but little enforcement of those curriculum requirements. Additionally, the school day is already overscheduled with other requirements and programs, and few teachers know how to incorporate dance into their curriculum.
To tackle these hurdles, Dodge partners with Young Audiences to create curriculum and pilot it in several schools across New Jersey. Other dance leaders, such as Sharron Miller, Graham Lustig and Sam Pott have developed their own dance curricula as well, and Dance New Jersey helps share curricula among its members. Often, this dance curriculum gets incorporated into physical education classes at schools as a section on dance led by P.E. teachers, but dancers also help assist teachers in the classroom with movement exercises around a variety of core curriculum subjects, such as math and science.
Meanwhile, Rutgers University and Montclair State University have implemented certification programs to train the next generation of dance teachers.
The Many Benefits of Dance
“Dancing keeps us mentally and physically healthy. It boosts our self esteem, teaches us self-discipline, and gives us a sense of accomplishment,” notes Dance New Jersey’s Executive Director Macada Brandl. “And, it’s a powerful form of creative expression that’s as old human history. This is why we’re committed to promoting the energy, excitement and excellence of dance and dance education in New Jersey.”
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