Perpich News

Mary Harding, Dance Instructor, Elected to the Board of Directors of the National Dance Education Organization

Mary HardingOctober 12, 2020

Mary Harding, Perpich Dance Instructor, was elected to the policy board of directors for the National Dance Education Organization in October, 2020. Her three year term begins in November, 2020.

The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to advancing dance education centered in the arts for people of all backgrounds. NDEO provides dance artists, educators, and administrators of all backgrounds a network of resources and support, a base for advocacy and research, and access to professional development opportunities that focus on the importance of dance in the human experience.

In applying for the role, Harding submitted this candidate statement: “I am applying for this Board position because I am committed to the mission of the National Dance Education Organization. I believe that my 30 years in the classroom, my leadership on standards at the state and national level, my research on assessment and peer coaching, and my multiple presentations on culturally relevant pedagogy, interdisciplinary collaborations, and innovative curriculum can support the work of NDEO. In my years in the classroom, I have endeavored to support the artistic voice and expression of every child. I ask my students questions and open the space for them to lead. I do the same as the professional development coordinator for Minnesota dance educators. I ask, listen, and support. I have worked with students from across Minnesota, a state that is known for excellence in education and for racial disparity in the educational system. I am a supervising teacher at the University of Minnesota, a dance education licensure program grounded in social justice. I am committed to social justice in the kinds of work I create with the students and the content/framing that I introduce them to. This equity work in the classroom has led me to present to my faculty, to Minnesota teachers, to teacher candidates, and nationally on culturally relevant and culturally responsive teaching practices. In addition, I have led and supported the Professional Development team on new equity initiatives including new conferences and programs to support students of color, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, and Native American students. I have experience working with the Department of Education to support teachers through policy and standards changes. I am deeply committed to relevant, thoughtful professional development. I believe that great professional development does three things: Affirm, Discover, Connect. I create my classes and my programs so that dancers affirm their way of knowing and their life experiences, discover new ideas and perspectives, and connect with community. These concepts are embedded in the practice of seeing your students. I have many memories of “affirm, discover, and connect” at National Conferences, webinars, and through my work on the National Standards task force. I hope to bring these three verbs to a broader audience.”

Mary Harding (MAED, BA) has been dancing and teaching since 1974. She has performed professionally with ballet, jazz, and modern companies in repertory ranging from “Pas de Quatre” to works by Bebe Miller, Doug Varone, and Danny Buraczeski. While a member of Zenon Dance Company, Harding taught master classes and dance residencies in schools across the nation. Since 1990, she has served as the head of the dance program at Perpich Arts High School, developing curriculum that supports student voice. Harding has worked on the Minnesota Framework for Arts Curriculum project, the Minnesota Arts Standards, the National Core Arts Standards, and has presented nationally. Her interests lie in K-12 dance standards, equity and access in curriculum development, and supporting emerging K-12 teachers through professional development. In 2002, Harding received the SURDNA Arts Teachers Fellowship and was named National Dance Teacher of the Year by the National Dance Association and Sportime. She was a featured teacher in the Annenberg Foundation’s 2005 video series, “The Art of Teaching the Arts.” Her research articles on assessment and peer coaching have been published in the Journal of Dance Education and have received multiple awards.