Recently, Carolina Ballet performed at Barwell Road Elementary as part of the Artists in Schools program. Company Dance Soloists Ashley Hathaway and Adam Schiffer spoke to, danced for, and interacted with students there, an experience the students are sure to remember for many years.
Across Wake County, United Arts’ is supporting 390 programs at 137 schools for the 2016-17 school year. Generally, Artists in Schools programs are funded through a collaboration between a school PTA and United Arts. This year, United Arts is reaching out to Title I schools without the resources to bring in these programs. We have offered to fully fund 17 programs (including two Carolina Ballet’s assemblies at Barwell Road) to 14 public elementary schools in Wake County.
The Carolina Ballet “informance” included an introduction to ballet terms and history. The two dancers spoke from the stage about their entry into ballet and their daily routines as dancers—everything from stretching and eating healthy to the long hours and types of exercise required to be a professional dancer.
The dancers also stressed that their work is an art form. Schiffer said, “Painters use brushes to paint lines; we paint lines with our body.” The dancers then demonstrated these lines to the students. The students expressed their surprise and delight as they watched the pair kick and spin and perform a short excerpt from The Nutcracker.
Students were eager to be picked by Hathaway to join her and Schiffer on the stage to practice some basic ballet moves. On stage, the chosen students were all smiles as they stood with the professional dancers and carefully followed their instruction and advice.
For the last segment of the program, Hathaway invited all the students to stand for their turn to learn a bit of choreography. “This time we will be the artistic directors and you will be the dancers,” said Hathaway. The students cheered as they stood to learn a short dance routine and put it all together with music— “I like to Move It.”
Research shows that our bodies like to move and need to move in order to better process new knowledge and create new ideas. Also, we know that participating in the arts supports a child’s development in multiple ways. And based on the smiles and enthusiasm in the room at the ballet assembly, students not only need to “move it”, they clearly do like to “move it”! That may be the best reason of all for supporting Artists in Schools!
Do you know which artists are performing at your Wake County school this year?