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Learning Through Dance

Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho’s mission is to create inspiring experiences through performance and education. Each season, we implement extensive arts education programs for students in the Treasure Valley and throughout Idaho. Ballet Idaho is seeking funds for our Learning Through Dance (LTD) and Student Matinee arts education programs. These provide Idaho students with access to arts-based education and serve students who oftentimes have never attended a professional performance or dance class. Our LTD program is a 10-week program offered in the fall and spring and is free of charge to participating schools. Our Student Matinee program works in collaboration with Treasure Valley school districts and Homeschool groups to bring students to abbreviated versions of performances. The LTD and Student Matinee programs encourage students to focus on expressive elements of dance and gain the capability to connect dance to personal experiences.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

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

LTD:
Anchor 5: Develop, refine artistic techniques & work for presentation. (DA: Pr51.3a) Replicate body shapes, movement characteristics & movement patterns in a dance sequence with awareness of body alignment & core support. In the LTD program, students learn spatial awareness, ballet positions & mirroring movement.

Anchor 2: Organize & develop artistic ideas & work. (DA: Cr2.1.3b) Develop a dance phrase that expresses & communicates an idea or feeling. In the LTD program students create & perform a dance based on the nouns & verbs in a story that they have prepared.

Matinee:
Anchor 7: Perceive & analyze artistic work. (DA: Re7.1.5) Find the meaning of artistic intent from the patterns of movement in a dance work. In the Student Matinee study guide, students explore how the dancers, costumes, music, & props help tell a story.

Anchor 8: Interpret intent & meaning in artistic work. (DA: Re8.1.) Interpret meaning in a dance based on movements. Explain how the movements communicate the main idea of the dance using basic dance terminology.

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 communicate through movement.”
—”You can use hand signs which is called pantomime.”
—”You can communicate by using body language.”
—”You can use emotions and sign language.”
—”You can show your emotion, and using steps you can let others understand you.”
Post—test results from the 2020/2021 LTD program (spring sessions)
*112 of 142 students scored over 83%
*129 of 142 students correctly defined choreography as designing movements
*129 of 142 students correctly drew themselves in 2nd position

Impact

Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 142 students in Idaho schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and school closures, Ballet Idaho was unable to complete the fall sessions of the LTD program.

—Responses from Teachers regarding the LTD program:

“(The students) have learned to step outside of their comfort zone. It has also increased richer vocabulary and built connections in language arts.”—Collister 3rd grade teacher

“I think the math equation lesson solidified a lot of close connections for most students. Also, the special recognition during the English Circle Dance (was an AHA moment).”—Koelsch 3rd grade teacher

“I like the silent self-control—not easy for my students, but good practice. Love to see them work together as groups. The repetition of vocabulary was great. The students learned French words and meanings.”—Koelsch 3rd-grade teacher

“(The LTD program) has helped the students be creative, move in coordinated ways, and to learn with their whole bodies. Having everyone doing the same thing at the same time is quite the accomplishment.”—Collister 3rd-grade teacher

Reflection

Offering our arts education programs to Idaho schools during a global pandemic helped to provide meaningful experiences to students who otherwise might not have been able to experience the arts. Our programs brought dance to new audiences, taught students dance movements, communication skills, and helped to foster confidence.

During the 2020/2021 season, our arts education programs made the art of dance more accessible to students than ever before and provided interactive and performance-based arts programming designed to foster confidence, creative thinking, and communication skills that will support students in their future education and employment endeavors.

The Learning Through Dance Program stressed the importance of physical activity by incorporating dance warm-ups followed by a review of previous material learned and introduced a new lesson each week. Students learned about dance, how to apply dance vocabulary, and how to communicate through movement.

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