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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.

Due to Idaho school closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Ballet Idaho was unable to complete its spring session of the LTD program and had to cancel the Beauty and the Beast Student Matinee.

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 spacial 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.

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.

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

Responses from LTD students when asked, “How can you communicate in a group without speaking?”

“You can come up with a movement to show that word”

“Body language and dancing”

“I can communicate with movement”

Post test results from 2019-20 LTD program (Fall and winter sessions)

*180 of 186 students scored over 83%

*173 of 186 students correctly defined choreography as designing movements

*174 of 186 students correctly drew themselves in 2nd position

Students participating in the Student Matinee are given a post-performance survey asking them to reflect on what they experienced.

Impact

Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 186 students in Idaho schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and school closures, Ballet Idaho was unable to complete the Spring sessions of the LTD program.

 

Responses from Teachers regarding the LTD program:

“Learning through the arts helps children develop an appreciation for a cultural experiences they may not otherwise have any interaction with. Arts integration is important at is helps develop creative problem solving skills. It also helps to develop social skills, motor skills, language skills, and social skills. I believe a program like this would help foster learning and self-esteem through risk-taking, decision-making and inventiveness.” Jefferson Elementary

“We watch our students benefit from the physical activity, mental stamina, and development of the LTD program.” Koelsch Elementary

Our Student Matinee outreach program brought more than 1,800 Treasure Valley students to the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts to experience The Nutcracker. Treasure Valley schools, including Title I schools and home school groups, and Idaho Homeschool groups joined Ballet Idaho for this performance.

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.

On March 15, 2020 the Boise school district announced its closure for at least two weeks, through spring break. At this point, the spring LTD schools had completed three of the ten weeks of the session.

When the school closure was extended and it was apparent students would not just miss one week of class, the participating schools were notified that we regretted not being able to finish the session and that they would receive an update and information later about the program for the next school year. The teacher from Centennial Elementary in Nampa wrote:

‘We love having you guys come each year and LOVED Carlene as our instructor this year. I am hopeful that next year things might be calmed down, and we can again participate in your LTD program. It is to great for the kids, and they are sad to miss the ending of the program this year. ‘

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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