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Learning Through Dance and Student Matinee Programs

Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho’s education programs provide accessible arts programming that encourages students to express themselves creatively through dance and helps them develop an appreciation for the historic culture of 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. LTD empowers children by providing interactive and performance-based arts instruction that fosters confidence, creative thinking, and communication skills.

The Student Matinee program works in collaboration with area school districts to bring students to abbreviated versions of performances held at the Morrison Center. These matinees introduce students to the joy and beauty of ballet by allowing them to experience a performance by a professional dance company in a fully produced theatrical setting.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

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

Students addressed this essential question using three anchor 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.

Our program curriculum is designed to establish artistic literacy and provide the best educational outcome and experience. Students gain a better understanding of how dance is interpreted, how choreographers get ideas for dance, and how to communicate ideas through dance. 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.

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

Statements from LTD students:
“ I learned that there are different categories in dance.”
“ You can communicate by dancing.”
“ I learned that most of the ballet language is French words.”
“ I learned that King XIV created ballet”
“Only boys were allowed to dance ballet at first.”

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

How did the dancers communicate during the performance?
“They used dance and body movement”
“They did not use words but they used the music and dancing”
“They communicated by dance and expression. Everything they did, like parts of the dancing told the story”

Further Feedback from the Student Matinee audiences:
“Thank you so much for the opportunity to see such a wonderful production. My students thoroughly enjoyed it and talked about it for quite a while. It is something they will remember for a lifetime!” – Washington Elementary Teacher

“Ballet Idaho has done a wonderful job of supporting art education in the Treasure Valley thought their student matinee performances” – Boise School District employee


Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 900 students in fourteen schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students and students in special education programs.

A Taft Elementary teacher stated that through LTD. “ Not only are students engaged, and having fun, they learned so much about dance, team building with classmates, and themselves.”

Further feedback from teachers and staff:
“I think that the overall best thing my students took away from this class was confidence. This class showed them that if they work hard at something they will succeed.” – Chaparral Elementary Teacher

“… it taught my class that dance is not just a “girls” activity… A few of my boys enjoyed it so much that it convinced them to further their dance education and partake in classes even after it was over.” – Chaparral Elementary Teacher

Our Student Matinee outreach program brought more than 3,200 Treasure Valley students to the Morrison Center to experience a professional ballet performance. Teachers received study guide materials to prepare and inform students about ballet terminology, history, and background information about the performance. In December 2016, Ballet Idaho presented Act 2 of The Nutcracker to 1,650 students at the Morrison Center. In April 2017, approximately 1,500 students from 23 Treasure Valley schools, including Title I schools and home school groups, experienced the magic of Peter


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.

In 2016, our arts education programs made the art of dance more accessible to students and residents in the Treasure Valley, including rural communities in Marsing, Nampa, Kuna, and Meridian, ID.

A Marsing Elementary teacher noted, “Learning Through Dance is the best enrichment activity we have had in our program in the past 12 years!”

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 benefited from performing for, and interacting with, Ballet Idaho’s Youth Ensemble and fellow students from area schools.

Students had the opportunity to experience a fully produced, professional ballet performance at the Morrison Center for Performing Arts through the Student Matinee program. Study guide materials prepared students for their ballet experience. “It was very well done. Thank you for giving our students this wonderful learning experience.” – Owyhee Elementary Teacher

Our arts education programs 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.