STUDENTS SHARE DANCE IN THE COMMUNITY
by dance major Jamie Stults
In January a new relationship began between the UW Dance Program and Pacific
Northwest Ballet, possible thanks to the collaboration of dance graduate student
Kelly Knox, PNBs Stephanie Scherpf and The
Pipeline Project*. For years the
Outreach program has promoted the appreciation of dance in the community.
During winter quarter nine students joined PNB in this effort, helping to
teach dance to fourth graders at two Eastside elementary schools.
Dance was only one aspect of the fourth graders experience. The kids
studied the sixty panels of Jacob Laurences Great Migration series,
which portrayed the period between 1916 and 1919 when thousands of African
Americans left the South seeking a better life. They then worked with original
music and choreography inspired by Laurences work. Through lyrics, paintings
and movement the students better understood this event in African American
history. Finished pieces were performed by the kids at Kirkland Performance
Center on April 4 and 5.
UW undergraduates worked with professional teachers from the PNB School to
present dance to the curious fourth graders. The teaching of children and
observation of experienced teachers was enriched by biweekly seminars, in
which students compared observations and explored issues in education and
advocacy in the Arts. Valuable guest speakers contributed their knowledge,
including Stephanie Scherpf, Director of Outreach and Education at PNB, Anne
Green Gilbert, founder of Creative Dance Center and national leader in childrens
dance education, and UW Art History student Katie Henry, who taught the UW
and elementary students about Laurences work.
Yet the greatest impact on UW students happened in the classroom with the
kids. They encouraged the bashful, corrected the confused, and applauded effort
and progress. Not every child embraced dance; UW students had opportunity
to practice patience and creative problem-solving. Enthusiasm, however, dominated
the interactions. UW students were able to share their joy for dance with
eager kids and in doing so found new fulfillment in their art.
*The UW Pipeline Project is an outreach program that sends UW students out
into local K -12 settings for a variety of tutoring opportunities.
For more information:
The Pipeline Project - www.washington.edu/uwired/pipeline
PNB Outreach - www.pnb.org/outreach