Dance Education


Perpich Center’s Dance Education Specialist serves Minnesota dance educators through standards implementation, curriculum development, instruction, and assessment in K-12 schools. The Dance Specialist also supports physical education and general education teachers with implementing movement into their classrooms.

Mary Harding is Minnesota’s Dance Education Specialist. Through workshops, demonstration schools, and other professional development opportunities, Perpich Center’s Dance Education Specialist presents regularly on the value of arts education and the power of dance. Customized workshops and meetings can be created to cater to a school’s needs, and private consultations can be done virtually, in person, or on location at a school. Harding actively engages in the following topics:

  • Equity, access, and inclusion
  • Standards-based grading
  • Culturally responsive and culturally sustaining teaching
  • Student choice and voice
  • Program development
  • Dance education and community connections
  • Assessment in the dance and physical education classroom
mary harding, dance education specialist  |  763-279-4281

Harding is both the Dance Education Specialist and the Arts High School Dance Instructor at Perpich. In her dance career she has performed professionally with ballet, jazz, and modern companies. While a member of the Zenon Dance Company, Harding taught master classes and dance residencies in schools across the nation.

In 2002, The National Dance Association and Sportime named her the National Dance Teacher of the Year. In the same year, Mary received the SURDNA Arts Teachers Fellowship.

Mary received her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the College of St. Catherine. Her research, “Peer Coaching in the Arts Classroom,” received the Sister Ann Harvey Action Research Award in 2008 and was published in the June 2009 edition of Journal of Dance Education. Harding was on the National Core Arts Standards Writing Team in 2012. In 2020, Mary was appointed to the National Dance Education Organization’s Board of Directors.


Saturday, April 15, 2023 from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Let’s gather this spring! Let’s dance together and inspire each other with presence, breath and artistry! Let’s deepen our self-awareness as both movers and teachers as we navigate teaching dance in this time. This is the second half of this year’s Dance Summit. Part Two features Elayna Waxse, freelance choreographer and dance educator, and Helen Buck-Pavlick, Fine Arts Education Specialist for Ohio.


Affirm, Discover, and Connect

Why dance education matters?

Perpich Center believes in art education for all. We are here as a resource to ensure all children can participate in and benefit from the arts.

  1. Higher Student GPAs
  2. Kinesthetic Learning Leads to Greater Student Achievement
  3. Student Persistence and Sustained Attention
  4. Increased Critical Thinking – Deeper Comprehension of New Information
  5. Activates Multiple Brain Systems – Deeper Emotional Learning
“Evidence Report on Impact of Dance”, Jane Bonbright, Karen Bradley and Shannon Dooling, National Dance Education Organization

“The reflective activity that we did with our partners in this workshop was really effective. I loved connecting one on one with dance teachers that I didn't know well previously.”

Erin Brown, Dance/Theater Teacher, Minneapolis Public Schools

“As a result of today’s workshop, I plan on learning more about the history of the form I'm teaching so that I can communicate to students from whom and where the movement came. I also plan on discussing how certain qualities of the form (alignment, weightedness, rhythm, music) are similar to or different from other dance forms, and that those qualities are not superior ways of dancing.”

Rachel Clark, MN Teaching Artist and Dancer, ARENA DANCES

“I loved the ideas for engagement and building community virtually. I will definitely be sharing these ideas with teachers I work with and using them with my own students. It was such a great reminder of how we can still get some movement into learning and how that movement opens doors to additional learning.”

Melissa Bertsch, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools

“There were many 'ah-has' that I had today, some including how to incorporate the use of technology in my dance unit as well as throughout my curriculum. The demonstration gave many different ways and ideas to use technology to enhance learning such as using 'gifs' to give students another visual aid.”

Kalyn Merten, St. Charles Public Schools

“I can incorporate literacy and dance easier than I first believed! Overall a great workshop!”

Kaitlin Stein, Brooklyn Center Community Schools
In response to Using the Body, Voice, and Movement to Unlock Texts Workshop

"The range of tactics and ways to engage - movement classes, theoretical discussions, practical pedagogy sessions, all in the same day."

Sam Johnson, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists (SPCPA), in response to the Dance Summit

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Workshop Examples

  • Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Pedagogy – Who Is Known?, Shifting the Power in the Dance Composition Classroom, Memory Quilt, Peer Coaching in the Dance Classroom
  • Literacy – Using Children’s Books as Dance Inspiration, Artist Journal, Using the Body, Voice, and Movement to Unlock Texts
  • Interdisciplinary – Gravestone of Wheat, Self portraits, Cephalapod Dances, Dance and Architecture – Bringing Your Building Alive through Site-Specific Work
  • Physical Education – Vintage Jazz, Create A Dance, Using Sports Imagery to Create a Dance, and general consultation/facilitation on Dance
  • Standards and Assessment – The New 2018 Standards
  • Minnesota Dance Summit
  • Summer Workshop
  • Dance/Talk
  • Creating Community – If You Knew Me
  • Dance Demonstration Schools
  • and more!