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Learning Through Dance

Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho is the premiere, professional ballet company and Academy serving the Treasure Valley and the state of Idaho. Our mission is to engage with Idaho communities to create immersive dance performances and educational experiences that are accessible to all. Ballet Idaho provides important artistic experiences that greatly enrich the creative vitality of Idaho communities.

Making sure Boise students have the opportunity to experience arts and culture is a priority of Ballet Idaho. Ballet Idaho ensures Boise students have access to fine arts and culture through the educational forum of dance. Our Learning Through Dance (LTD) program is a 10 week artist-in-residence program, implemented throughout the school year. This program is administered by professional dance educators and fosters cultural awareness and creative interpretation.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

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

How do dancers work with space, time and energy to communicate artistic expression? The following anchor standards support this essential question:

Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. (DA: Cr2.1.3b) Develop a dance phrase that expresses and communicates an idea or feeling. In week four of the LTD program, students create and perform a dance based on the nouns and verbs in a story that they have prepared. This lesson helps students understand the methods of communication and self-expression available in dance.

Anchor standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. (DA: Pr51.3a) Replicate body shapes, movement characteristics, and movement patterns in a dance sequence with awareness of body alignment and core support. In week one of the LTD program, students learn spatial awareness and movement techniques by mirroring the instructor’s movements and following the instructor in various patterns around the room.

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

The following are responses from LTD students when asked, How you can communicate in a group without speaking?

-By communicating with your body and facial expressions. If you have bigger movements, the audience will understand more. (Collister)

-You can communicate in a group without speaking by ‘talking’ through dance. (Collister)

-You rehearse what signs (mime) mean. (Collister)

-I can communicate in a group by body language. (Koelsch)

-By using your body instead of words. (Washington)

-I can communicate non-verbally. (Washington)

Post test results from 2021-22 LTD program (Spring session; no schools participated in the fall session due to COVID-19 and scheduling changes in classrooms):

* 323 of 428 students scored over 83% on assessment survey
* 336 of 428 students correctly defined choreography as designing movements
* 396 of 428 students correctly drew themselves in 2nd position

Impact

Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 428 students in Idaho schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students.

Responses from Teachers regarding the LTD program:

-Highly gifted and traditional classes come together for this program, encouraging participation, coordination, both in body and communication.- (Collister)

-I felt inspired to use more movement in my instruction. Dancing the math equation was so cool!- (Washington)

-I was very pleased to see a shift in the mindset of the boys in my class. They really enjoyed lessons and understood that everyone can dance!- (Washington)

-I love using dance & movement in class, it keeps them up and their brains turned on!- (Koelsch)

-The class has learned how to better work and communicate with each other.- (Koelsch)

-Most kids were surprised to know professional athletes benefit from ballet (the program) is great for introducing the arts, following directions and inspiring creativity.- (Koelsch)

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.

A teacher from Collister Elementary shared these thoughts after a breakthrough LTD session with her students, This program has helped facilitate conversations about growth mindset and trying new things. Dance can be energizing, relaxing and expressive, so we try to match our ‘brain breaks’ accordingly.

The Learning Through Dance program not only impacted the students throughout program, but many teachers were also influenced throughout the program leading to changes in thoughts on movement throughout the day and how their students process information.

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