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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:

-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 Fall 2022 LTD Program*
*129 of 176 scored 83% or higher on assessment survey
*141 of 176 correctly defined choreography
*119 of 176 correctly drew a dancer in second position

Impact

Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 303 students in Idaho schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students.

Responses from Teachers regarding the LTD program:

-‘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.’ (Collister)
-‘Highly gifted and traditional classes come together for this program, encouraging participation, coordination, both in body and communication.’ (Collister)
-‘They were able to listen to what (the instructor) told them and they danced in front of one another.’ (Collister)
-‘I felt inspired to use more movement in my instruction. Dancing the math equation was so cool’ (Washington)

Reflection

This season, during Ballet Idaho’s 50th Anniversary, 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.
We were reminded of our legacy at our Student Matinee Program, where we partnered with Boise Independent School District to bring over 1,300 third and fourth grade students into the theater to experience the magic of our Mozart in Motion production. The energy was electric as students filed into their seats and patiently waited for the curtain to rise. Artistic Director Garrett Anderson gave a brief overview of the performance and then let students know that they should ‘applaud when they see something beautiful.’ The applause did not stop until the curtain closed. The joy on the faces of the children and their excited exclamations illustrated the unifying role Ballet Idaho plays in our community, bringing together individuals from many different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and cultures to enjoy the beauty of dance.

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