Dancing to Learn: The Brain's Cognition, Emotion, and Movement

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Dancing to Learn: Cognition, Emotion, and Movement explores the rationale for dance as a medium of learning to help engage educators and scientists to explore the underpinnings of dance, and dancers as well as members of the general public who are curious about new ways of comprehending dance. Among policy-makers, teachers, and parents, there is a heightened concern for successful pedagogical strategies. They want to know what can work with learners. This book approaches the subject of learning in, about, and through dance by triangulating knowledge from the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and cognitive and neurological sciences to challenge dismissive views of the cognitive importance of the physical dance. Insights come from theories and research findings in aesthetics, anthropology, cognitive science, dance, education, feminist theory, linguistics, neuroscience, phenomenology, psychology, and sociology. Using a single theory puts blinders on to other ways of description and analysis. Of course, all knowledge is tentative. Experiments necessarily must focus on a narrow topic and often use a special demographic—university students, and we don’t know the representativeness of case studies.

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About the Author:

Judith Hanna earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, an M.A. in political science from Michigan State University, and a B.A. in political science from UCLA. She is an Affiliate Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, an educator, writer and dance critic.

Review:

The research for the hypothesis undertaken by Dr. Hanna and all others involved, is impressive. . . .The author's style is academic with an excellent fifteen pages of reference works and a clear and precise index. I thank the author for giving me a new insight into an art form I very much enjoy. (ImagineMag!: A South African Arts & Culture Magazine)

Hanna’s review of the extant literature on the neurological impacts of dance specifically and exercise more broadly is wide reaching.... [T]he range of material she draws on may be very persuasive to her imagined reader, skeptical about the importance of dance in education.... The many examples that Hanna reviews of dance education programs are one of the most valuable resources in the book, and a reader interested in examples of dance-integrated learning will find leads on exciting pilots and thriving dance programs.... [The] case studies are quite rich and fascinating.... On the whole, the work is wide and fast moving, a strong model of one way that comparative cross-cultural anthropology integrating neuroscience and cultural research can be deployed in educational activism. (American Anthropologist)

Dancing to Learn does not provide all the answers about the impact of dance on the brain but it does provide more than enough evidence to proudly refute any outdated, biased, and misinformed claim that dance is irrelevant to cognition and education....Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement encourages us to find our way back to what first drew many of us to this profession—the healing inherent in dance. (American Journal of Dance Therapy)

Dancing to Learn: Cognition, Emotion, and Movement explores the rationale for dance as a medium of learning to help engage educators and scientists to explore the underpinnings of dance, and dancers as well as members of the general public who are curious about new ways of comprehending dance. Among policy-makers, teachers, and parents, there is a heightened concern for successful pedagogical strategies. They want to know what can work with learners.

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