African dance in diverse higher education settings: Perspectives from the practices of five experienced instructors
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This dissertation research explored issues concerning the integration of African dance techniques in higher education. The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of and intended objectives for teaching African dance forms to a diverse population of American college students through the insights of five individuals who teach African dance techniques courses in five different American universities. The participants selected were currently teaching within dance programs offering African dance study in differing curricular formats at universities in southern and midwestern states. Each participant was an experienced dancer, performer, and teacher of traditional African dance forms. Working within a qualitative research methodology, themes and conclusions emerged directly from data collected from in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Each participant was treated as a case study. Within these case studies, the lived experiences of the participants were investigated through their descriptions of teaching African dance forms, thus creating a portrait of the complexities of each separate case. The study concluded with a statement of objectives emphasized by the participants as important for enabling students to learn more about themselves in order to then sense how they might navigate and adapt to communities in which they are both familiar and unfamiliar. Internet research into curricular offerings of several American colleges and universities with dance programs having courses in African dance forms broadened this study by offering an overview of how African dance study is currently being implemented in dance programs across the nation. The Internet research examined who was teaching African dance forms in selected American universities, where the courses were placed within the curriculum, and the levels of African dance techniques courses offered. Since the research participants in this dissertation offered possible ways for American dance curricula in higher education to be reshaped, redefined, and reimagined, this research is particularly important to the future field of dance education as the backgrounds and needs of students entering higher education become more diverse.