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Vol. 16 No. 1 (2021)

The Emerging Critical Pedagogies of Dance Educators in an Urban STEAM After-School Program for Black Girls

  • Ayana Allen-Handy
  • Valerie Ifill
  • Raja Y. Schaar
  • Michelle Rogers
  • Monique Woodard
February 1, 2021


The preparation of urban educators has gained widespread attention across education policy, research, and practice. As US urban cities have become more diverse, the teacher workforce has not kept up, and the racial/ethnic demographics of students and teachers are disproportionately incongruent. In order to eradicate an education landscape that perpetuates white, middle-class ways of knowing and being, often at the expense of the cultural practices and cultural wealth of historically marginalized students of color, urban teacher education must be centered toward justice and rooted in critical pedagogies. The literature, albeit bleak, reveals that these perspectives must also be applied to urban dance education. Dance education programs have been significantly eliminated from urban schools over time, and although dance has historical roots in African and African diasporic cultures, dance education continues to be Eurocentric. This phenomenological case study examines the emerging critical pedagogies of undergraduate dance majors and minors who served as dance teachers in an urban Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) after-school program for 7-12-year-old Black girls. Findings reveal that (a) navigating race, place, and space; (b) mentorship and practice; and (c) critical reflection and self-efficacy were critical components of the urban dance educators’ emerging critical pedagogies. Implications for urban dance education and the broader field of urban education are provided.