Professional Artists Return for In-Person Middle School Dance Classes

New York City is a renown center of the arts and it provides the opportunity for unique partnerships between Poly and professional dancers of every style. For the first time since the pandemic, guest artists have returned in person to work with Poly students in our Dance Studio. Engaging with these artists infuse our program with creative energy and inspiration.

The passion of Spain’s traditional art form lit up the Dance studio when Laura Peralta, a teaching artist with the New York City Center taught flamenco skills to Grade 6 students on October 19. Peralta was the first of Dance, Debate, and Drama Coordinator Ashley Hacker‘s guest artists in Middle School this fall. She taught the basics of flamenco to two of Hacker’s sixth grade dance classes with the students quickly picking up the skills from this wonderful guest teacher.

Poly has had an ongoing partnership with STREB, whose mission it is to share choreographer Elizabeth Streb’s “Extreme Action” movement style and PopAction technique. Action Heroes Jackie Carlson and Lucy German from STREB worked with fifth graders in Hacker’s dance class on October 27 to teach them safe movements, including how to fall and pivot 360 degrees in a seamless maneuver, in the first of three visits by STREB artists. Carlson returned to the fifth grade class with Justin Ross on November 1 and again on November 5 when students put together all they had learned in their previous classes. These high-energy sessions give students new insights into what dance and movement can be while melding athleticism to improve both confidence and coordination.

Dancer, teacher, and choreographer Winston Dynamite Brown, who has danced with Taylor 2, a section of the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, worked with Grade 8 on November 1 in the first of nine sessions. Students are learning the Taylor modern dance technique and will have a class of Esplanade set on the technique.

Gina Gibney Dance Company: “Hands Are for Holding”

In the afternoon, guest artists with Gina Gibney Dance Company’s program “Hands Are for Holding,” which “uses movement to start conversations with young people about healthy relationships,” worked with seventh graders. Will Noling and Thomas Tyger Moore told the students that some of the same elements needed for dance—patience, communication, cooperation, balance—are also necessary for healthy relationships and led them in considering whether or not a relationship is healthy. They then also presented the video of a dance in which partners treated each other in healthy and unhealthy ways.

Looking ahead, guest dancers will continue in Hacker’s classes through Trimester 2 and Trimester 3 and into Semester 2. STREB will continue working with our Grade 5 students. Grade 6 will work with City Center’s teaching artist from Alvin Ailey with two meetings per class and another teaching artist for two more meetings. Grade 7 students will work with the Gibney dancers for three meetings and grade 8 will work with Paul Taylor Dance for nine meetings. Choreography in the Spring Dance Concert in April will showcase work from all these collaborations.