An investigation into the relationship between philosophical principle and artistic practice with reference to the role of dance in education
The thesis commences with the examination of the place of dance in British society, and focusses on its social and cultural role, while proffering explanations pertaining to its metaphysical and symbolical significance. It is evident that changes in political and religious attitude led to censure of folkloristic pastimes and celebrations of dancing, but it transpires that during the Restoration Period a resurgence of the popularity and acceptance of dance occurred in both theatrical and social contexts. The role of the dancing master is depicted in the creation of a mannered society, when aesthetically, artistically, and technically, dance was valued. The function of dance as a form of physical exercise is examined and concludes the introductory section. In establishing the role of dance in education, a study of early nineteenth century educational philosophers and practitioners is made, and the implications of Swedenborgianism on their work is investigated. European and American influences in the form of militarism, the gymnastic movement, health and dress reform are also examined. The founding of the Women's Colleges of Physical Education established dance as an aspect of physical training, a role reinforced by the Board of Education through the publication of a series of Syllabuses on Physical Training. Drills, singing games and maypole dances were taught in schools prior to the Folk Dance Revival, when morris, sword and country dances assumed a place with court and national dances, which were also performed by children. The Modern Dance Movement developed during the inter-war period and was typified by a variety of neo-classical, rhythmical dance forms that emphasised datural movement and spiritual expression. An account is included on the implementation of modern educational dance during the post-war years, and an appraisal of contemporary practice is made. The conclusion forms a summary and analytical argument relative to the changing role of dance in education.