Dance As A Gateway Drug To Coding

Via was a Chalkbeat story about DanceLogic, a program in Philadelphia “designed to educate, inspire, and cultivate girls of color in STEM.”


The premise: Both coding and dance use repetition and combination, so using dance as a hook to attract girls to the program could lead to an interest in coding.


Each Saturday, the girls participate in dance class from noon to 1:20 p.m., take a short break, and then go into coding class until 2:30 p.m. Sessions run from October through June, culminating with a performance at the annual West Park Arts Fest.


For example, she said, the class developed a dance score using coding language to note choreography. “In the future, I hope to expand on this with the girls and see how it progresses with their understanding of both worlds,” she said.

The program has had some indirect, though semi-predictable result such as participants finding their math classes easier understand. There were other beneficial outcomes which illustrate the value of arts based education, but don’t fit neatly into grant applications because they need to be the result of organic decisions by the participants.

Students have shown an eagerness to take charge of the choreography and exchange ideas about what the dances should be. Bridgers said she’s seen many of the girls who participate develop into strong leaders and mentors. “We make a space for these young women to expand their agency and autonomy in the field of STEM,” she said.

One danceLogic student even developed her own coding curriculum and taught younger children in her neighborhood library, said Lindley. DanceLogic also hired the student when the pandemic forced a switch to virtual learning, charging her with designing and implementing a virtual video-game design class for children, Lindley said.

A student taking the initiative to teach coding to younger kids is a powerful testament to the influence of the DanceLogic program in her life. But you couldn’t have written a grant saying that X students would be inspired to start their own programs. (Unless it was a grant to train people to teach others, of course.)

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment