ELIZABETH POLK (Subject of A Time to Dance)
Elizabeth Polk’s broad professional background marked her as one of
the country’s authorities in teaching the joy of movement to
emotionally, physically and mentally handicapped children. She had a
long and rich career teaching dance at every age level from pre-
schoolers to adult education classes and in settings ranging from
housing projects to college campuses.
Born and educated in Vienna, Austria, her early music and dance
studies included not only ballet, but Dalcroze eurhythmics, modern
dance and gymnastics. She performed as a concert dancer, and later
acquired a physical education license enabling her to launch her own
dance studio in Austria. In the United States, she pioneered creative
dance and worked with normal children at the Children’s Center for
Creative Arts at Adelphi University, as well as in her own studio. She co-
founded the National Dance Teachers Guild, and taught methodology in teaching dance to children in Adelphi’s dance department.
At the request of the NY State Board of Education in Albany, Mrs. Polk developed teaching modules for gymnastic, physical education and music teachers as part of a revamped curriculum. Her career as a dance therapist began as a recreational dance teacher at the noted Lexington School for the Deaf where she worked for thirteen years. She worked for thirty years as a dance therapist at several New York City schools for special children, including a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children.
A charter member of the American Dance Therapy Association, she helped the new organization establish standards of training and professional competence. She was active in the New York Chapter throughout her career. In 1995, at the age of 93, she was honored at the ADTA’s 30th annual convention as a chief pioneer in dance/movement therapy, with a lifetime achievement award.
She directed “Orchestrated Music for Special Children,” produced by Hoctor Records, and "Wake Up, Calm Down" for Educational Activities. The choice of popular and folk tunes in these records have proven valuable teaching guides to those working with young normal children, and special populations. They remain her legacy to dance therapists of the future.