This past year was full of new opportunities to move and groove for our P.S. ARTS dancers! Take a look at some of the highlights of our 2014-2015 school year dance programs:
Dance with Ms. Williams at Baldwin Hills Elementary (LAUSD)
Last school year, P.S. ARTS had the opportunity to expand the after school dance program at Baldwin Hills Elementary thanks to the generosity of the Crail-Johnson Foundation and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
Students in the P.S. ARTS after school dance program at Baldwin Hills Elementary became familiar with the vocabulary of dance, learned about choreography and improvisation, and experienced the joy of movement. Throughout the school year, students explored various movement styles including American social dance, traditional African dance, contemporary ballet, hip-hop, modern dance, and jazz, participated in the choreographic critique and review process, and performed at the school’s Winter Program, Black History Month Celebration, and the end of year Talent Gumbo-Multicultural Day Performance.
Students learned about dance legend Alvin Ailey and his most famous work, Revelations; they studied African-American Spirituals and how they were used to express deep suffering, endurance, hope, and a yearning for freedom. Inspired by this piece, students choreographed and performed their own tribute to Alvin Ailey at the school’s Black History Month celebration in February. Students also paid tribute to Janet Jackson by performing their own rendition of Jackson’s Rhythm Nation to celebrate the song’s theme of racial harmony. During rehearsals, students discussed the historical importance of both Ailey’s and Jackson’s pieces and compared the similarities and differences between the two works, placing an emphasis on how intention can be portrayed through movement.
“One of my male dancers who was extremely shy in the 2nd grade (when I began working with him) eventually became student body president. During his culmination speech, he publicly thanked me for encouraging him to dance. He expressed that it was through dancing that he overcame his shyness and built the confidence to run for student body president. He was a model student, and I was happy to have had a part in the building of his self confidence and personal growth.” – Ms. Williams
After School Dance/Music with Ms. Seabreeze at Baldwin Hills Elementary (LAUSD)
Launched in the spring of 2015, this residency was an extension of the already established after school dance program at Baldwin Hills. This extended dance program exposed students to the history of hip-hop and its pioneers and their contributions to the art form. Students explored various movement styles including popping, locking, and breakdance; they mastered basic hip-hop techniques and used tempo, level, rhythm, sequencing, and leading while learning about and creating their own choreography.
The residency culminated in a performance at the end of year Talent Gumbo-Multicultural Day Performance where students were challenged to utilize and share all the dance skills they learned over the course of the semester.
Arts Rotation: Dance with Ms. Wade at Billy Mitchell Elementary (LESD)
As part of our Arts Rotation model in Lawndale Elementary School District, P.S. ARTS Faculty rotate through the elementary schools in trimesters, so that each child gets yearlong arts classes in three disciplines (Music, Theater, and Visual Arts). This past school year was our first chance to add in a fourth discipline, dance, to the mix! Ms. Wade discussed culture and dance styles from around the globe and introduced her K-5 students to jazz, African, hip hop and more in preparation for their final performance that included pieces to Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, Waka Waka by Shakira, and Happy by Pharrell Williams.
P.S. ARTS student Nico explained it best in this heart-warming message to the audience, “I learned a lot in dance class about culture and different dance moves like a jazz square. I like dance class because it makes me feel inspired.”
Classroom Studio: Dance with Ms. Picard at Lost Hills Elementary and A.M. Thomas Middle School
This past spring, in partnership with Wonderful Education, P.S. ARTS launched its first ever in-school dance program in the Central Valley at Lost Hills Elementary and A.M. Thomas Middle School in Lost Hills, CA. Thanks to the support of Wonderful Education, a vital supporter of P.S. ARTS’ mission for over a decade, students from pre-school through 8th grade learned about the fundamental elements of dance and were exposed to such styles as jazz, hip-hop, ballet, and musical theater. After a semester of hard work, students proudly performed at a school wide assembly for an audience that included parents, peers, school administration, and members of the community.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching dance is to encourage confidence. You can actually SEE it in the student. It is visible in their visage, their posture, their eyes. Their smile and belief in themselves is turned up. That confidence can fuel everything in their daily life. They walk in ready for class and rehearsal with a higher sense of themselves and that is a beautiful thing to watch, nurture, and instill in every student.” – Ms. Picard