Arts Instructional Guide: Dance V.1
For Classroom Teachers, Arts Teachers and Arts Community Partners
The Arts Instructional Guide (A.I.G.) has been developed by the Arts Education Branch of the Los Angeles Unified Schools District with the conviction that a substantive and sequential, standards-based curriculum in the arts is the inherent right of every student. The arts play a vital role in cognition: through exploration, inquiry and reflection, they literally teach children how to learn.  The arts offer students access to their own history and culture and that of others. Through the problem solving processes of arts-project learning, the arts offer self-discovery, values clarification, critical thinking, collaboration and organizational skills. They offer new avenues to understanding in content across the curriculum, and they foster empathy and life-long pleasure in learning.

Dance, music, theatre and visual arts offer distinctive pathways to explore the human experience. Dance communicates human thought and emotion wordlessly, through the body in motion, and dancers intuit and define themselves in time and space; music gives us immediate access to mood and memory, using its unique language to express thoughts and feelings through time; theatre allows a community to tell its stories and helps us comprehend the internal dramatic structures within all literature and experience; and visual arts opens up ways to perceive and make sense of the visual world that surrounds us, and allows us to make historical connections through examination of visual artifacts. Students of the arts are able to communicate across languages and cultures and access concepts that have connected us throughout history.

The arts have always created community. A dynamic, vital and well-rounded arts program plays an integral and integrative role in school culture. Making public the creative achievements of our students offers delight and color to fill the time and space they share each day. 

Teaching in and through the arts enriches the experience of teachers as well, giving them additional tools to motivate and engage their students and themselves, thus making positive contributions to school-wide achievement.

When children are very young they express themselves creatively and effortlessly. If they are allowed the space and time to play, children are natural storytellers, dancers, singers and artists; and they do not see these as separate disciplines. Building upon this ease of expression - this sense of play- and refining the skills within each discipline in support of the growth of the whole child is the responsibility of educators. As students improve, as they focus their areas of interest and their ability to present their work in increasingly formal settings, skilled and masterful teachers need to provide the resources and the context for advanced training. The Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools were adopted to guide K-12 educators through this process, and the Arts Instructional Guide defines benchmarks for students as they develop and gives teachers the specific tools to realize the full implementation of arts education for all students.

Assessment is inherent in the arts. Arts experiences are public and visible, and the interactive nature of creativity, the constant presence of an audience, viewer or sharer, requires that students alone and collectively apply criteria to assess and revise their own work and knowledgeably critique the work of others. This aesthetic examination and inquiry is embedded in the interactive “studio” or “rehearsal” processes of art production, and this is where deep and significant life-long learning resides.

The delivery of a comprehensive arts curriculum is here conceived as a team effort: a collaboration bringing together arts specialists, classroom teachers, the arts community, the school community, parents and administrators. While we are fortunate in LAUSD to have skillful and inspired arts specialists working with children, it takes a team to provide daily growth experiences in dance, music, theatre and visual arts. With careful planning, each member of this team has a crucial role to play in building capacity in all four arts disciplines. 

We welcome you to the team!