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Dance Literacy Games

Dance Literacy Games (DLG), (Parrish, 2006-2019) are a series of 11 kinesthetic manipulative games which activate Rudolf Laban’s Element of Dance, Body, Effort, Shape, Space, and Relationship.  Using constructivist approaches, each dance game assists student development of dance content knowledge, inquiry, and problem-solving approaches, and also facilitates collaboration and improvisational learning (Parrish, 2018).


In addition, several DLGs address activist pedagogy:

(a) Eyewitness Issue Dance (Parrish, 2007) focuses on large scale global issues including: poverty, pollution, homelessness, and imprisonment. Issue cards provide concrete and stimulating images encouraging thoughtful investigation of complex global issues;


(b) Compassion Dance: Positivism can change the world (Parrish, 2018) presents a kinesthetic approach to teaching empathy encouraging the development of a classroom culture of compassion through movement connections.  Game play encourages student to make a difference stimulating an understanding of the values of community, generosity, and tolerance;


and (c) MOMENTUM: Healthy Inner Attitudes (Parrish, 2019) supports student leadership and encourages students to become global thinkers and positive change agents in the classroom. Transformative statements guide the formation of mindful connections to big ideas while developing skills of self-confidence, humility, authenticity, and resiliency in the face of adversity.


Over the last 15 years, I have developed 11 DLGs that support the development of constructivist approaches to dance education and encourage kinesthetic inquiry and spontaneous improvised movement solutions. Sold worldwide, DLGs offer educators the opportunity to observe relationships in the classroom and a relaxed and engaging method by which to assess what the students know, what they can do, and how they are able to apply knowledge to new situations. When talking about the development of the games, dance scholar Dr. Susan Stinson posits, “Mila Parrish has the ability to synthesize her deep knowing about movement and the arts, young people, popular culture, and educational trends, and come up with exciting activities that are extremely useful in the dance classroom” (Stinson, 2008). I published an article on DLGs and the value of creative play (Parrish, 2018) and presented DLGs at international dance research conferences in China, Taiwan, Jamaica and Denmark. Photos using DLGs can be found at

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Support Statements for Dance Literacy Games

"Dance Literacy Games are an engaging standards-based way to bring improvisation and choreography into the dance classroom. They are perfect for students of any age.  As a middle school dance teacher, my students can struggle with too much freedom in an improvisation activity which is compounded by peer-pressure and trying not to look "weird." Dance Literacy Games create a non-threatening atmosphere stimulating new movement material in the classroom. Games, by nature, are supposed to be fun and different, and using this approach allows teenage students to take a leap of faith into trying something new. At the same time, the rules of the game give the students a needed boundary and guidelines to follow. Dance Quest is my students particular favorite, as it creates an improvisational "dance battle" while also creating a positive environment in which to try out and discuss new movement words and choices. Each student has a role in the game, making sure that all students are actively engaged in the dance-making process. It also makes my role as educator easier because it puts students in the center of their own learning while I can take a step back to facilitate, and not intimidate, novice dancers."

-Emily Enloe, 9th year middle school dance teacher

"Dance literacy games are such an important tool in the dance classroom.  Not only do they provide choreographic creative problem-solving practice activities to help teach how to create movement, they are also providing the dance content literacy that our students so desperately need.  The games teach student how to communicate, listen, observe, and think critically.   I use the games regularly in my classroom. I vividly remember the very time I played Dance Literacy Games at one of Dr. Mila Parrish’s national conference presentations it was such engaging embodied kinesthetic fun. She only had a few sets for sale and I made sure I got one.  Each year, I admittedly hunt Mila down to make sure I got a set of her newest game creations. Dance Literacy Games encourage me to stretch my “pedagogical chops” and seek our new ways to connect with my students.  I feel that they are extremely effective in teaching students how to create and how to communicate about dance." 

 -Kelli Abramovich, 24 year veteran high school dance teacher

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