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Dance Education & Technology

Current practices in K-12 dance pedagogy mandate technology integration in students’ comprehensive dance education. Limitations in quality instruction and staff development and evaluation, though, hinder appropriate use and acceptance. As one of the few teachers of dance technology for educators in the nation, I receive numerous invitations to speak nationally and internationally on the subject of technology integration and lead interactive online instructional workshops. In the process of teaching hundreds of artists, choreographers, university professors, and university students, I have developed my own methods for integrating technology in the dance classroom that focus on student self-discovery, choreographic inspiration, clarifying difficult concepts, self-reflection and productive dance thinking. Publications on the topic include: Parrish 2017, Parrish 2014, Parrish, 2008; Parrish, 2007; Parrish, 1999; Parrish, 1998.

As an arts educator, I have a unique opportunity to nurture creative thinking, self-direction and personal efficacy before, during, and after instruction. Interactive web based “smart” technologies assist in this process. When students are in charge of their own learning and assessment, their work is more focused and self-directed, and as a result students learn to take initiative and to be responsible and accountable for their work. My research in dance technology been published in scholarly journals and presented at the last nine NDEO conferences and the last three DaCi conferences.  My goals in technology pedagogy for dance are aimed to assist student self-efficacy, to increase opportunities for students to customize and take charge of their own learning, and to develop collaborative ways of working together and sharing information with a wider audience.

My research has established new trends in dance education through the thoughtful integration of technology. In addition to the development of Discover Dance (2000),  one of the first interactive multimedia products for K-12 dance education, my research has investigated the use of technology in several thematic areas. These areas include: dance documentation, interactive performance, distributed instruction, and the development of instructional methods for teacher education. Since my initial investigations, other research threads have emerged including the development of interactive and distance technology exclusively for dance educators.


As my passion for dance technology continued, I became fascinated with how technology could extend the landscape of dance education into international exchanges between global classrooms made possible by the use of video webcasting, video conferencing, and dance databases. I was asked by Liora Bresler to contribute a chapter on the topic in the International Handbook of Research in Arts Education Technology in dance education. (Parrish, 2007). This handbook is considered to be the definitive reference on core topics related to research in arts education, (with contributions from scholars in art education including eminent American educational philosopher, author, social activist, and teacher Maxine Green).


The growth of telecommunication, video sharing sites, specifically YouTube, and social media, have exponentially increased the number of people interested in dance and dance education. Technology presents new ways for students to think about their learning, express their ideas, and problem solve. Toward transformation: Digital tools for online dance pedagogy (2016), details this increased digital connectivity in all aspects of the profession, from instruction to performance, and examines the increased opportunities for students to customize and control their own learning. This article examines the use of online instruction and new media technology in teacher education programs and presents strategies for the integration of technology in the dance, technical training, and creative practice of dance as well as the benefits and limitations of online instruction for dance.


Media advances have changed the ways in which we interact, communicate, teach and learn. Flipped Assessment in the Choreographic Process (2017), examines the use of smartphones and handheld devices, to “flip” instruction transforming assessment in teacher education. The application of handheld devices within new media technology in teacher education is also addressed. My scholarly work defines new models for thoughtful use of technology for dance in the areas of documentation, distributed instruction, dynamic performance, and pedagogical approaches.

Technology & Dance Education Publication

Toward Transformation Publication

Dancers Connect Interactive (DCI)

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 undergraduate researchers Magalli Morana and Yahira Robinson, 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. Instagram and Facebook have over 2.1 billion monthly users globally. 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. The wide range of benefits in education include improvement of communication and motivation (Eyrich, et al.,2008; Alt, D. 2015); more independent learning and heightened responsibility in students regarding their education and community (Parrish, 2008).

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, 2008; Parrish, 2014).

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Smartphones and Flipped-Assessment

​Can student controlled smartphone assessment modalities support creative skill development, efficacy, and metacognition in dance? Traditional classrooms are controlled and moderated by the teacher and students seldom make decisions about their own learning. Using freeware applications on their smartphones, however, dance students can collaboratively discuss, create, and evaluate dance. By defining key learning outcomes aligned with student’s long-term goals, students move past initial quick solutions to more informed, thorough ones (Parrish 2016). 

In my coursework, I use smartphone technology to reform traditional evaluative methods and construct “flipped” assessments which are created by students, for students, serving to prepare students for making critical judgments and decisions on their own. In the process of “flipping” assessment students talk through a problem, learn to visualize relationships between existing knowledge, identify what they are interested in, what they already know, and what they need to discover. Quickly, students learn to draw inferences, spend time encoding the terms of a problem, unpack the component parts, postpone conclusions, and as a result, develop awareness about their own thinking and learning process (Parrish, 2017).

Flipped Assessment publication

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