Service-learning is a methodology that can enrich your college dance program, help
professors present and publish, and at the same time really save our art form. Seriously.

The dance world is full of struggle. Most companies, arts councils, and dance centers
are continuously underfunded and understaffed. We are stretched thin. Imagine if your
company had a relationship with a local college and had several volunteers a year, for a
few months at a time - to help you do what you need and want to do? (And, at the same
time, you are giving college students real life experience in the dance community and a
behind-the-scenes look at the life of your professional company.)

Second, service-learning courses can help bring dance to more people and
communities. That’s what we want, right, more children dancing and more people
seeing and experiencing dance?

Service-learning courses can get more college students out into the community
teaching classes and performing at schools and senior centers. Students see how
dance can fit into the community, the role of dance in education, and the power
of art. They can take their dancing beyond the daily technique classes and the
“spring concert.”

While the concept of working in the community is a simple and logical one, this still is
not happening in many college dance departments. Students spend a lot of time in
technique classes, composition classes, and performing in concerts on campus. While
the vast majority of dance majors will become dance educators - or at least teach dance
in some way throughout their career - many college dance programs do not currently
offer a dance education course. Service-learning courses provide insight, skill-building,
and reflection.

For college professors, the benefits of teaching service-learning courses include:

A way to publish, present and network through a national service-learning network
An opportunity to gain recognition
A chance to collaborate in the community

Photo by Rob Kunkle,