Movement in Orff-Schulwerk and the Role of Danai Gagne as Advocate and Model Teacher in the United

November 25, 2009 / By: Melanie Sander

The purpose of this study was to investigate Danai Gagné’s background and expertise in teaching movement and to document her influence on the spread and practice of Orff Schulwerk in the United States.  Since her emigration from Greece to the United States in 1968, Gagné has been a pioneer for Orff Schulwerk in the New York City area and has become a nationally renowned clinician who has earned respect as an exemplary teacher of movement in Orff Schulwerk training courses throughout the United States.
This study is comprised of the following areas of Gagné’s life and work:  her music and movement training during her childhood and teen years in Greece; her growth in Orff Schulwerk during her early adulthood years; her immigration to the United States and work as an Orff practitioner; her teaching at Trevor Day School and at the 2008 AOSA conference; and a summary of her contributions to Orff Schulwerk in the United States.  Historical research and data were collected and analyzed from both primary and secondary documents.  Published primary sources included articles, books, conference programs, interviews, and newsletters.  Unpublished primary sources included interviews conducted by the researcher, and submitted articles.  Published secondary sources included articles, books, dissertations, and theses.    The researcher concludes that Gagné’s skill as a model movement teacher for Orff Schulwerk can be attributed to her quality training in Greece as a child and in Salzburg during her young adult years, as well as her continued growth in movement courses in the United States.  Since Gagné’s immigration to the United States, she has brought Orff Schulwerk to New York City through the Bloomingdale House of Music and the New York City Orff Chapter, as well as mentoring countless teachers both regionally and nationally.  Gagné’s expertise as a model movement teacher and Orff practitioner are invaluable to the continued practice of Orff Schulwerk in the United States.