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Ballet Idaho: Learning Through Dance

Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho’s arts education programs provided accessible arts programming that encouraged students to express themselves creatively and helped to develop an appreciation for dance. Our arts education programs include:

The Learning Through Dance (LTD) program places a professional dance educator in third grade classrooms for 10 weeks to teach students basic dance movements and dance terminology.

LTD curriculum gets students actively learning by integrating dance with language arts, math, and science. LTD activities promote confidence, creative interpretation, and communication skills that can help prepare students for future education and employment endeavors.

The Student Matinee program works in collaboration with Idaho school districts to bring students to abbreviated versions of performances held at the Velma V. Morrison Center for Performing Arts. These matinees introduce students to the joy and beauty of ballet as they experience a performance by a professional dance company in a fully produced theatrical setting. Teachers receive study guide materials to prepare and inform students about ballet terminology, history, and background information about the performance.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do dancers work with space, time and energy to communicate artistic expression?

A dancer can tell a story or convey emotions through his or her movements. Dance is more than just a way of moving – it is a way human beings artistically express themselves on a higher level. Ballet is special because dancers technique when learning ballet movements. The five positions of the feet provide stability and body placement for all the movements practiced in ballet. Dancers understanding of proper technique provides a foundation upon which they can build dance movement and allows them work with space, time, and energy to communicate artistic expression.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation. Students were encouraged to examine space, time, and energy as basic elements of dance by coming up with performance sequences in and through space with intentionality and focus.

Anchor Standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. Students learned to connect the mind and body, and develop the body as an instrument for artistry and artistic expression by replicating body shapes, movement characteristics, and movement patterns in a dance sequence.

Anchor Standard 8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work. Students examined how intent, meaning, and artistic expression are communicated through the use of the body, by using dance terminology to select specific context cues from movement.

LTD program curriculum is designed to establish artistic literacy and provide the best educational outcome and experience. Students gain a better understanding of how to interpret dance, what inspires choreographers, and linking these ideas through movement. Our programs focus on the expressive elements of dance, developing knowledge of movement terminology, and gaining the capability to reflect, critique, and connect dance to personal experience. The shared dance experience that our arts education programs help to make dance more familiar and something students can relate to throughout their lives.

Impact

Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 580 students in ten schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students.

Responses from Teachers regarding the LTD program:

“Our students benefit academically, physically, and emotionally from their participation in the LTD program” Collister Elementary

“Students have recognized the importance and power of physical movement for health, but also for its ability to deepen relationships and communication.” Koelsch Elementary

“Movement is extremely important for our students. It helps them make important neural connections and find new ways to control their body and fight impulsivity.

– Koelsch Elementary Teacher

 Teachers observed the following student moments in the LTD program:

“I observed my students gaining control of their bodies when moving through space”

“It’s a good example of self-control in all areas of life.”

“Students learned that there are many ways to create and express oneself.”

“Students learned skills about working with a group. We use and discuss these often.”

Our Student Matinee outreach program brought more than 3,378 Treasure Valley students to the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts to experience a professional ballet performance. In December 2018, Ballet Idaho presented The Nutcracker to 1,860 students and In May 2019, approximately 1,518 students from 24 Treasure Valley schools, including Title I schools and home school groups, experienced the magical story ballet, Cinderella.

Reflection

Offering our arts education programs to Idaho schools helped to increase access to the arts and provided meaningful experiences to students. Our programs brought dance to new audiences, taught students dance movements, communication skills, and helped to foster confidence.

This season, our arts education programs made the art of dance more accessible to students and provided interactive and performance-based arts programming designed to foster confidence, creative thinking, and communication skills that will support students in future education and employment endeavors.

The Learning Through Dance program emphasized the importance of physical activity by incorporating regular dance practice designed to increase students’ range of motion, flexibility, and endurance. Students were active participants as they learned new dance moves and interacted with fellow classmates to create movement sequences. Students benefitted from performing for, and interacting with, Ballet Idaho’s Youth Ensemble and fellow students from area schools.

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