|Times photographer O'Rourke|
Monday, October 25, 2010
Giving the chance to dance
Since kids in underserved communities don't have the resources to come to the Patel Conservatory, we strive to bring our programs to them through educational outreaches. Ballet instructor Amanda Roa recently began teaching a dance class at RCMA’s Wimauma Academy, an elementary school in Ruskin that serves predominantly hispanic children of migrant workers. The class was featured in the St. Petersburg Times.
Roa shares what her experience has been like for the past few weeks...
“I really wanted to do the dance outreach at RCMA [Redlands Christian Migrant Association] because the few outreaches I taught at the school last year made me realize how much I connect personally with the mission of the RCMA organization.
What most inspired me about this dance outreach is that I have the tremendous gift and responsibility of teaching most of the students dance for the first time. The students at this school have no (or little) exposure to formal dance (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.) except through these classes that occur once a week through Patel.
I teach a class of kindergarten through 3rd graders with the school music teacher, the amazing Ms. Hebe Tello. We start the class with a ballet warm-up for about 45 minutes to an hour. This is critical because if the students gain some tenants of ballet technique (posture, flexibility, coordination, body placement, isolation of different body parts, basic terminology, musicality, etc.), they can use those tools to do anything in the future with dance.
For the rest of the class, they are learning some choreography that they’ll perform for the school holiday show in December. The holiday performance showcases the talent of every student at the academy, so we’re excited to be working up to this goal with the group we have. I also like to intersperse movement games to give them a mental break and to explore different ways to approach dancing and moving.
The main challenge up to this point has been simply introducing the students to what dance is, how you behave in a dance class, and keeping them engaged, because they are all doing something very new. But I’ve already seen some big improvements in the students. There are a few specific students in the class that have shown a huge transformation with their coordination, strength, posture and flexibility.
Though as an educator, I understand that children and young adults are sponges, sometimes I am still amazed at what they can accomplish if they just have the right resources and decide to commit.
I am very honored and blessed to be able to share my degree, my experience and my passion for dance with them.”