We do not fully understand the chronological trends concerning dance programs at American schools. We are collecting information on dance in the schools over time. Some images we have found are difficult to assess just what is happening. We note younger children doing interperative dancing in the early 20th century. Many schools provided lessons in social dancing, but we are not sure about the chronology. One major development I think in the 1930s was the effort by Henry Ford to promote folk dancing in the schools. As a result, for many years we see schools teaching square dancing, often in the gym classes. This was popular through the 1960s. We are not sure about dance programs currently conducted in American schools.
Here we see a scene from a public elmrntary (primary) school in Washington D.C. The photograph was taken in 1893 (figure 1). We are not sure this is a dance exercise, it may be more oriented at posture. That was something that was taken very seriously (19th century). Posture became a matter of serious concern (19th century). Posture became associated with health and illness. Experts indroduced the idea of ideal and pathological postures --like the familiar kyphotic, lordotic, flat back and sway back. Swedish gymnastics and German krankengymnastics laid the foundation for modern physiotherapy. The new expanding middle classes were particularly concerned. Self-care books appeared on yhis and other topoics. Thery sold in the millions. Children were taught to stand up amnd sit up straight. And with notions of illness at the time there were still notions of morality. One author writes, "the line between [posture] and moral position had become completely blurred." Gillmam]
And we see device being sold to force good posture on children. We also motice both indoor and out dance lesson that often give the impressio of posture exercises. We see another Washington D.C. image with dance lessons. It could be a single school dance lesson. Or it could be a system-wide program in Washington, D.C.
We note girls at L.H.S., a New York elemenary school in the 1890s. We are not sure if it is a dance lesson or exercise.
We note a dance lessom in an elementary school near Chicago during 1935. The school seems to have passed out spcial sandals. We notice another dance class also in the 1930s. have no information about this photograph, exceot that it comes from a school in Yonkers (New York City). We are not sure if this is dancing lessons at the school or a school social. The children look like older elemenary schildren or junior high school students.
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