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Learning Through Dance

Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho’s arts education and outreach programs provide accessible and diverse arts programming for individuals throughout the Treasure Valley instilling a lifelong appreciation for the arts. Programs include:

The Learning Through Dance (LTD) program places a professional dance educator in third grade classrooms for 10 weeks to teach kids 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.

Our Academy Scholarships are awarded to deserving students with limited financial resources who have demonstrated talent, musicality, and a high level of motivation.

Our Youth Ensemble performs for students in school assemblies and in the community for special events. Performances at schools provide insight into technique training, stagecraft, stage etiquette, and choreography.

Our By Special Invitation program provides individuals from a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds the opportunity to attend Ballet Idaho performances for free.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

Where do choreographers get ideas for dance?

The students addressed the 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 questioning ‘How do dancers work with space, time, and energy to communicate ideas and artistic expression?’

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 asking ‘What must a dancer do to prepare the mind and body for artistic expression?’

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, elements of dance, dance technique, dance structure, and context. In order to answer ‘How is dance interpreted?’

Programs are designed to establish artistic literacy and provide the best educational outcome and experience. These goals are achieved by focusing programs on discovering the expressive elements of dance, developing knowledge of movement terminology, and gaining the capability to reflect, critique, and connect dance to personal experience. All programs aim to increase cognitive abilities and creative thinking skills by incorporating math and science concepts.

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

Third grade students participating in the LTD program have the opportunity to travel to Ballet Idaho or have Ballet Idaho’s Youth Ensemble travel to their school for a performance and interactive presentation. The final week of the LTD program offers students the chance to perform new skills, challenge their thoughts and share in each other’s success as experienced dance instructors guide them through the evaluation. The children benefit from performing for, and interacting with, Ballet Idaho’s Youth Ensemble and fellow students from area schools. Students participating in our arts education programs are given a post survey questionnaire based on the Idaho State Content Standards for third grade as well as National Core Arts Standards.

Statements from LTD students:
“I learned that King Louis XIV created ballet, and boys originally danced ballet.”
“That choreography is designing movement.”
“You can communicate without speaking by communicating through movement.”
“I learned that more than just girls do ballet, and that ballet is the beginning to a lot of dancing.”
“Ballet calms me down.”
“I didn’t know I could dance math”

Students participating in the Student Matinee are given a post performance survey asking them to reflect on how dancers train for a performance, elaborate on plot, and evaluate their own self-awareness in regards to good audience etiquette.

Impact

Our Learning Through Dance program reached approximately 800 students in eleven schools, including Title I schools with high populations of low-income students and students in special education programs. One local teacher noted that through LTD, “students gained confidence, knowledge and needed life skills by participating in this program.” Students participating in LTD learned “how to self soothe and find a calming energy inside of themselves.”

Further feedback from teachers and faculty:
“The students had a terrific time and are always very excited when it’s time to dance.”
“The boys ended up liking it more than the girls I think.”

Our Student Matinee outreach program brought more than 2,100 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 2015, Ballet Idaho presented Act 2 of The Nutcracker to 1,078 students from kindergarten through sixth grade at The Morrison Center. In April 2016, over 1,200 fifth grade students from eighteen Treasure Valley schools, including Title I schools and home school groups, experienced Act I of The Sleeping Beauty performance.

Reflection

Ballet Idaho’s mission is to promote classical and contemporary ballet by encouraging artists to greatness and inspiring the public to value the performing arts. We enrich our community through quality performances, disciplined training, dance outreach, and education.

Ballet Idaho’s arts education and outreach programs reached new audiences, taught Idaho students dance movements and communication skills, and provided students access to cultural experiences. These programs are integral to inspiring the public to value the performing arts in providing artistic opportunities and experiences that greatly contributed to the creative vitality of our community.

Ballet Idaho implemented all projected outreach programs include Learning Through Dance and Student Matinees. In 2015, our education programs made the art of dance more accessible to students and residents in the Treasure Valley, including rural communities surrounding Boise, ID.
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. One local teacher noted, “LTD is an excellent resource for all students, but especially for those in high poverty areas where there is so little culture and exposure to art programs.”

Feedback from the Student Matinee audiences:
“I understand how hard dancers work to make an exciting performance and they did a spectacular job” – Student
“I liked how every time they wanted to talk they would dance their thoughts” -Student
“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!” – 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

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