Art Connection: Moving in Education

[RHYTHMIC CLAPPING AND STOMPING] Kids need a way to express. Yes, it is very
important that they’re able to speak and
articulate intelligently. But let’s be real. There’s moments where
we’re not comfortable doing that and kids need an outlet,
and to be able to move, and to be able to be creative
and express in a different way is so important and vital. [RHYTHMIC STOMPING] I think it’s important to
teach dance for many reasons. I think one is I
personally feel that you have to teach kids how
to use their bodies and not be afraid to move. We like to think that we ignite
the creative voice in students of all ages. And through dance, they
can tell their stories. They can create. They can explore. Students can develop
all kinds of attributes that help them become complex
thinkers, imaginative leaders as well as followers. They are really able to develop
themselves and articulate who they are through dance. [MUSIC PLAYING] Your knees. One foot. The Repertory
Dance Theater, RDT, was founded in 1966 as a
professional modern dance repertory company, which was
unusual and daring at the time. Very revolutionary and
we’re still revolutionary. Generally, we serve around
25,000 to 27,000 students a year, and that is within
the breadth of our programs. So whether we are
going to them or they are coming here to see
a show or something, that’s every program. [CHATTER, LAUGHTER] We offer creative
movement classes, which is where we
go into the school and we teach one
classroom at a time. Creative movement session, which
can be anywhere from a half an hour to 45 minutes,
and that kind of depends on the
school’s schedule. I leave that up to them. We also offer assemblies
where the students will all come into the gym and the
company will come and do a performance. We also do, in the schools,
professional development for the teachers
themselves if they’re interested in doing more
movement in their classrooms. And then they’re also welcome
to come here to the theater to see Voyage or whatever show
we are doing that year geared towards elementary students. And with that, we offer
a study guide and also some different ideas for them
to take back to their school and use inside the classroom. [CLASSICAL MUSIC] I’ve been working
with RDT since 2004, but more closely in
the last six years since I’ve been
here in Northwest. In my time here
at Northwest, RDT has also asked me
to be on the board to help with the
educational component. And RDT works very
closely with my students throughout the year. When I took the class
at school it was– at first it felt kind of
uncomfortable, but then as we went on I was
getting really used to it. I was having a lot of fun. And the best part of it was
when we got to go on field trips or when we all were able to– like when the teacher had us
make our own beat and then when we all presented
it together, it sounded really cool. I like that they don’t treat
us as like we’re little kids. They treat us as if we’re adults
and that we can handle our own. And that they’ll be like,
here’s the choreography. I want you to learn it
and show me how you do it. And maybe we can make some
changes to adjust for you and what type of human you are. All of the teachers were really
encouraging and very energetic. So like that brought
a lot of the kids, including me, up
a lot, so like we have more confidence
in ourselves to dance in front of all those people. You need something that
will be there to be like, oh, I get to go to
dance class now, and I get to be my own person. I get to come up with
the choreography. I get to use my own music. And that’s what we do here
at Northwest Middle School is we make sure that we get
to come up with our own dance moves. And our teacher she’s just
like, here, I’ll pick your music and you can just throw
whatever you want in it. And I’ll come check and make
sure it’s something different that you’re not used to. And I want to push you
further than you usually are. That’s why I think the arts
are important because it pushes you to do things
that you’re not used to. I also appreciate
the fact that RDT is an incredibly diverse
company and their dancers come from all different
walks of life. My school is very diverse. I think we have 29 countries
represented and 32 languages that are spoken. And RDT has Caucasian,
African American, Latin American dancers. And my students
really need to be able to see people
who look like them. [MUSIC PLAYING] After we leave a
school, we always leave them with as many
ideas as I can possibly give them physically. In their email, in their
binds, through just experience, as I can. And then I just hope that they
will take one or two ideas and try them out,
see what happens. Our world needs dance. Our world needs art. RDT is at the forefront
of pushing for just that. We all know that the
arts are at the very top of the chopping block when it’s
time to get rid of something in education. And what I absolutely
love about RDT is they are there to say,
no, and push, and make sure that our students are being
served the way that they need to be served. And I will be supportive
of RDT and what they stand for till the day I die. Well, you know, we really
believe in the power of dance. It can change lives. It can inspire students. It can help them connect
with the world at large. It can help validate
who they are. And all you really need to
do is to go into a theater and be open to the
ideas, the music, the language of movement. And we know that we can
change lives through dance.

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