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Dancers Connect Interactive

DCI Grant Information

Imagine parents moving the coffee table to create living room dance studios that encourage both playful, creative problem solving and togetherness through dance. Guided by a distance dance teacher, these families solve movement challenges such as traveling around their home using three different pathways or creating a “wiggle it” dance with their loved ones. This initiative, led by UNCG
faculty Mila Parrish and supported by researchers Mabel Magalli Morana, Yahira Robinson and Mandi Taylor, aims to examine how social media can be used to teach dance and how such applications can be used to create community, and support family collaboration through movement.

Social media has transformed the way we think, the way we interact, and the way we learn. Statista reports that as of January 2019, Instagram had one billion monthly users, and Facebook had more than double that amount. Social media capitalizes on the enormous potential created by connecting communities and linking individuals with shared interests and expertise (Alt, D. 2015; Waters & Jamal, 2011). The wide range of benefits in education include improvement of communication and motivation (Lehman & Richardson, 2007) more independent learning and heightened responsibility in students regarding their education and community (Parrish, 2007-2010).

Partnering with the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG), this newly proposed initiative, Dancers Connect Interactive (DCI) is a natural extension of the university’s longstanding community dance program, Dancers Connect (DC), and examines how instruction distributed via social media informs participants’ engagement in dance experiences and in DCI teachers’ instructional practice. DCI aims to assess and address the following questions:
(a) What are the advantages and limitations of using social media-distributed dance instruction?
(b) How will dance activities such as movement challenges, improvisation, and dance sharing be supported and challenged in the social media environment?
(c) How will the university dance students’ perceptions of teaching, collaboration, and community evolve in the process?

The research team will develop and implement 16 short age-based dance activities to be distributed by DCI among the families of the more than 80 students participating in the program per semester. We are interested in how we can support interest in dance beyond performance preparation and encourage families to dance together. As described above, participating families will receive a short movement challenges through social media, complete the challenge, and then post solution to DC social media.

DCI is the extension of previous research and extends scholarly research in the application of distributed technologies for K-12 students and teachers. Mila Parrish’s publications have established that interactive distributed instruction can support creative teaching and participation in dance (Parrish, 2006). Parrish’s research into the pedagogy of play (Parrish, 2018) and the use of distributed instruction to reach students in rural communities revealed the potential of such applications to increase student-teacher connections, heighten access to resources, and reduce any sense of isolation (Parrish, 2008). Additionally, Parrish’s research considers the distributed lessons’ effectiveness as a practicum opportunity for pre-service dance students for content skills assessment, collaborative problem solving, reflective practice, and dance making (Parrish, 2009; Parrish, 2016). Understanding the implications of DCI will advance Parrish’s current research program. Morana, Robinson, and Taylor’s research will provide valuable and specific information on the potential impact that social media can have on dance teaching, creating, and distributing through a large community of collaborators in the arts in the future. By increasing creative and artistic opportunities with DC families, DCI will expand students’ awareness of the world of dance.

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