Screen capture of a virtual dance presentation.

Digital dance: 2 ASU dance alumni publish articles on virtual dance education

By

Lacy Chaffee

Two Arizona State University dance alumni were recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Dance Education in Practice. This special edition of the journal by the National Dance Education Organization focused on virtual dance education.

“It is a pleasure to witness our ASU dance alumni contributing such impactful value to the national dance education community,” said Keith Thompson, associate professor and assistant director of dance.

Maggie Waller graduated in 2020 with her bachelor’s degree in dance, a minor in justice studies and two certificates — one in arts entrepreneurship and the other in socially engaged practice in design and the arts. Her article, “Creating Art and Cultivating Intimacy During a Global Pandemic,” describes how Waller adapted “Reclamation,” her honors thesis project exploring women, apology and the body, from an in-person experience to a digital one. 

Waller successfully planned, rehearsed and presented her collaborative project using a variety of platforms, including Zoom, Facebook and YouTube. She said the project helped her grow as a dancer and choreographer.

“Little did I know that through this process of upheaval and change, I would connect deeper to the self, deeper to the community and deeper to the work,” said Waller.

Helen Buck-Pavlick was also published in the journal. Buck-Pavlick currently serves as the Title IV-A Arts Education Specialist for the Arizona Department of Education and on the National Dance Education Organization Policy Board of Directors as the Southwest regional representative. She is also a Title I middle school dance teacher in Tempe, Arizona. She graduated from ASU with an MFA in dance in 2012. In her article “Engaging Virtual Dance Students Using Social Media Dances and Technology,” Buck-Pavlick addresses the challenges of virtual dance education and how she leveraged social media dances and technology to increase student engagement and enthusiasm.

In the article, Buck-Pavlick said, “I took inspiration from popular social media and video gaming platforms, such as TikTok and Fortnite, to outline a project that would give students a voice and choice in how they demonstrated their learning.” 

Buck-Pavlick created a two-part project for beginning dance students in eighth grade where they created a TikTok or Fortnite-style dance tutorial and also learned a dance from another student. She said the project was fun and engaging for the students as well as for her as a teacher. 

“The project allowed them to see themselves as a part of the narrative of dance history and an active participant in the future of popular social dances,” said Buck-Pavlick.