DEL Lab School Recognition

There’s just under three weeks until Ben Franklin Elementary School’s Dance Showcase. Students are spending some time at the beginning of their day honing their skills in preparation for that day – not with learning specific steps or memorizing dance terminology, but with flash cards.

It’s not the most conventional method of learning that comes to the minds of most when hearing the term “dance class”, but it’s one that is getting a fair amount of recognition for the Binghamton City School and West Middle School dance teacher Tina Christina-Price.

Christina-Price was recently recognized as one of 12 dance educators to have their school recognized by 92NY Dance Education Laboratory as a DEL Lab School. The recognition was awarded for work done with students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School to create an inclusive learning environment where students work on task-solving activities through dance.


Tina Christina-Price began as a dance teacher in the Binghamton City School District in year. For the first few years of her tenure with BCSD, she taught in a more traditional “lead and follow” sense. However, once the COVID pandemic reared its ugly head, she needed to find a method of teaching dance more conducive to a virtual environment. A tough task indeed, but one that led to the method-embodied style of learning that DEL endorses – which includes supporting diverse learners and inclusive teaching.

In the case of Christina-Price and her students, it involves emphasizing ideas over specific moves.

“Kids like to have an experience that gives them ownership to what they’re doing. It’s not to say teaching them technique - tap, jazz, ballet, modern - is not appropriate,” Christina-Price explained. “What’s even a greater lesson that embraces everything about that genre is ‘What’s the history behind it? Where did it come from? What costumes do they wear? Who choreographs? Where is it performed? Who does it appeal to?’ But we have to get to that.”

After discovering DEL and going through their teacher certificate program, Christina-Price started this style with her students at West Middle School, and it was a hit. Now, in the 2022-2023 school year, an elementary school-level pilot program has made its debut at Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin Elementary Schools. Jefferson students performed what they learned at the West Middle School winter concert back in December 2022, and Franklin students will have their own dance showcase on June 6.


During their practice for that event, are the trusty aforementioned flash cards. On those cards are verbs – words like freeze, melt, and dodge. Then over the course of two minutes, each group of students came up with a series of movements to illustrate those words. No two groups’ final product were the same, but all followed the same central idea while allowing each group to express their interpretation of the words. 
The students are the choreographers, not the teacher.

“We look for action words. So if you are maybe studying an inventor, and that inventor is described as a strong, powerful person that is willing to take risk, what would that pose be? What would it look like? How would it feel? Did they march through life trying to discover things, or did they creep looking for interesting things to discover because he was curious? Once we begin to put together all those actions that make up not only people, but plants, elements, weather, and just about everything in life, then we can have that experience that allows us to say, ‘Oh, I get it.’”

The students’ classroom teacher benefits as well. They’ve been taking part in these sessions too, and have been learning new ways of using movement to get kids out of their chairs to communicate words and ideas. The benefit for students is they learn a more applied version of dance, not just a genre performed in a concert setting. It’s taking words along with their meaning and putting it to movement, using critical thinking to piece it all together and giving everyone a greater sense of ownership over their learning. 

“Seeing their faces and their bodies just get into what they’re doing and loving the experience… It just fills me with so much joy because it tells me that I’ve taken my passion for dance, and I’ve planted a seed in them,” Christina-Price notes. “Each child finds their own way to do steps in their own relationship, and that’s what is so cool. It can be something unique to each child because they themselves are unique.”

To learn more about 92NY and DEL, click here.