Teaching East African dances in higher education in the U.S.: reconciling content and pedagogy.
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Higher education institutions in the United States have integrated Africa dance courses into academic programs and curriculum. Previously, ”the usual course concentration in dance departments have been on concert dance forms derived from European classical ballet such as modern dance” (Vissicaro, 2004, p. ix). With ever evolving diversification of student population, higher education institutions have witnessed augmentation of academic courses in dance theory, history, and philosophy, as teachers began to honor many world dance traditions (Vissicaro, 2004). As such, different African dance forms are part of higher education curriculum. In Africa, dances exist and are taught and learned in their traditional contexts in communities that create and perform them. Nesbit (2012) has cautioned that in teaching African dances in higher education, “separation of the “content” of dance as a list of formal elements from the “context” of dance, where culture resides, not only has the possibility of firmly establishing one while allowing the other to slip past unnoticed, but also does not reflect the way all teachers teach.” (p. 6). Therefore, adapting these dances to a higher education paradigm and aligning their material against western formal education standards, which is characterized by use of mirrors, recorded music, assessment rubric, quantified grades, classroom management strategies, and feedback provision criteria has implications on pedagogy, assessment, class management, lesson plan development, as well as dance material that is selected for teaching.