Student Voice on Dance Education
by Annie Ouellette, Grade 12,
Annie takes dance classes at Cyrious Movement Dance Studio in a neighboring town.
I’m a procrastinator. Always have been, PROBABLY always will be. So when Mrs. Cerceo asked me to write a blog post (in November??? December??) and wanted it due for February, I thought “of course, it’s about dance! I can crank it out in one night.” It’s APRIL. Believe me, I sat down so many times to write this and it never came out the way I wanted it too. Maybe because it’s hard to write about something that I am so passionate about because as the end of my senior year creeps closer and closer (68 days until graduation!!), I am starting to realize that my high school dance career is coming to an end too.
I didn’t always love to dance. In fact, when my mom first told me she had signed me up for dance, I refused to go. But now, I can hardly imagine my life without it. I still cringe when people tell me dance isn’t a sport. Not a sport? Come to a dance practice and participate and let me know if you still feel the same way afterwards.
What surprised me the most is that dancing is like telling a story, and immersing yourself in dance is like reading a good book. You’re the author of each dance. Sure, in a dance class, a teacher choreographs each dance for us, (my dance teacher is brilliant, I don’t know how she does it) but the beauty of dance is that you get to make each dance your own, through self expression. Learning the moves was important, but it also mattered how you execute each move and how you make the song your own.
We move naturally. We move to express ourselves, whether it’s drooping of the body to express sadness, or a jump for joy. When we become aware of each structured movement and perform it for a purpose, it becomes dance. It’s a beautiful form of self expression.
Dance helps develop visual & kinesthetic learners. While early classes incorporate lesson plans into drawing and singing, dance is often neglected. Children learn movement patterns as readily as learning a language. Dance helps with sports too. Coordination, flexibility, strength and coordination are all major aspects of dance. Learning, remembering, and performing a dance exercises your kinesthetic memory. Social skills may be improved too, but in different aspects. Within a dance class, you must learn to work within a group dynamic, and be able to express your ideas.
“Do kids really need ART?” is like asking if kids really need English. Art is the purest form of self expression. It’s a different approach to learning culture. It can be as simple as a geometry problem or as complex as architecture. Art and creativity are incorporated into everything we do. I will argue for HOURS that dance is a sport, but it is also, without a doubt, an ART.
Dance Grant Awarded!
MSAD#33 Student Daley Pedersen; Teaching Artist John Morris; MSAD 33# Art Educator Theresa Cerceo; Maine Arts Commission Director of Arts Education Argy Nestor; Thornton Academy Dance Teacher Emma Campbell; and Thornton Academy student dancer Vojtech Machytka. Photo courtesy of the Maine Arts Commission.
AUGUSTA, ME, April 8, 2016—The Maine Arts Commission has awarded a special new grant, “Hopes for the Future,” to provide dance education to K-12 students in Frenchville and St. Agatha in the northern most part of Aroostook County. The $2,650 award to Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) 33 will give the district’s 240 students and teachers a unique opportunity to participate in the dance making process.
“We are extremely pleased that MSAD #33 will benefit from this inaugural grant. It couldn’t go to a more worthy district in a very deserving part of our State,” stated Julie Richard, Maine Arts Commission Executive Director.
The district’s Art Educator, Theresa Cerceo, and Teaching Artist John Morris collaborated in pursuing the grant. Mr. Morris is a member of the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist online roster located at https://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/Teaching-Artist-Roster.
He will guide the students through a dance-making process over the course of a five day residency that will culminate in a final show. Mr. Morris has also created an open online resource for dance located in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Resource Bank at http://www.maineartsedresources.org/. He will employ these resources as part of teacher workshops during the residency so the work can continue after his departure. “In adding dance education to the community’s experience with the arts, we will broaden their knowledge base of the arts as an academic subject,” stated Ms. Cerceo.
Funding for this grant was provided via a collaborative performance held in November 2016 at Thornton Academy in Saco. Seven schools and dance studios worked together to create the performance and raise the funds to make possible this unique opportunity for dance education. The residency will be documented on the Maine Arts Education blog at firstname.lastname@example.org so that members of the public can learn more about the residency’s process and impact.
The Maine Arts Commission is encouraging other organizations and/or arts venues to consider such collaborations to provide funding to schools to help establish either dance or theater education programs. Students have limited access to both of these disciplines across the state.
To learn more about the Commission’s PK-12 arts education programs, including the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and the teaching artist roster, or how to develop a grant like this one, contact Argy Nestor at email@example.com or 207-287-2713.
* This article is reposted from News from Argy with a View of the State House Dome.