Advocating for Inclusive Dance in the Public Schools
PODCAST BY SILVA LAUKKANEN
In this episode of DanceCast, Silva interviews New York-based dance educator and advocate Sandi Stratton-Gonzalez. Sandi shares her dance beginnings and describes how she always identified as a teacher, even as she pursued performance opportunities, which directly led to her career as a dance educator in the public schools. She ended up working for 20 years at the first fully inclusive public school in the country, where there was also a robust performing arts program. Sandi reflects on the value of those experiences and how they informed her later work in city-wide efforts to represent dance educators and advocate for students with disabilities. She talks about how she’s staying active in the field post-retirement and adapting to online spaces.
Sandi Stratton-Gonzalez taught dance to children with special needs in inclusion and self-contained classrooms for more than 20 years at PS 372 in Brooklyn. Recently retired from the classroom, Sandi is the coordinator of the Arnhold Programs for Dance Educators and the Dance Transition Team Leader at the Office of Arts and Special Projects in NYC. She is a professional development facilitator with the Arts for Students with Disabilities Team (NYC), advocacy director for the NYS Dance Education Association and teaches dance for students with disabilities for NDEO. A member of NDEO since 2005, Sandi works with the NDEO Dance and Disabilities Task Force, whose goal is to increase the organization’s capacity to support the dance and disability community. She is co-author (with C. Gallant and D. Duggan) of Dance Education for Diverse Learners: A Special Education Supplement to the Dance Blueprint and has been published in Dance: Current Selected Research Volume 7 and Dance Education in Practice, where she is a member of the editorial board. Sandi was an adjunct professor at Hofstra University from 2008-2018, teaching Dance in Elementary Education. Prior to teaching fulltime, Sandi was the founding artistic director of Soundance Repertory Company (1984-1999), and her choreography has been presented throughout the Northeast.