Participating in dance gives children a new opportunity to learn to persevere and excel.
Dance as a Path to Excellence
School Program Inspires Children with the Arts
Thursday, April 17, 2014
For more than 500 schoolchildren each year, a dance arts program has created an outlet, a safe haven, and a place to grow. Founded in the belief that the arts have a unique ability to inspire children toward excellence, our nonprofit, Santa Barbara Dance Institute (SBDI), works with over a dozen schools, offering both in-school and after-school educational dance programs that bestow uncountable rewards.
A school-based opportunity to be involved in quality art programming gives children another outlet to learn to aspire to excellence, an aspect that translates into their other subjects. It helps create an atmosphere for learning that is so important for any school.
“I have never felt so proud of myself. I had fun and gave 100 percent in each dance class, and then I got to perform under the big lights for all these people! I felt like a superhero.” —Adriana, 6th-Grade Student
In our full-year programs, the kids get to work toward and experience a fully staged performance at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Roughly 350 students take part in an original dance theater piece to a sold-out house of family and community members. Talk about elation! The children see the long-term goal ahead and dance their way toward it in a positive, fun, and challenging endeavor with their class. Each child becomes empowered as they gain more and more command of the dance steps, and they also develop an understanding of what it means to be part of a team. When the children perform after months and months of hard work, it is transformative for many.
Many other Santa Barbara art programs offer performance-based classes, too, with equal benefits for kids. Some visual art programs culminate in public showings for community, family, and friends. Budhi Harlow teaches drumming and dancing in schools to students, who get to participate in the Solstice Parade and final presentations. Schools themselves offer talent shows or end-of-year presentations.
“For me, dancing with my class every morning in preparation for our big performance gave us a focus and a shared goal. We laughed, we helped each other, we got a little exercise, and we played with music. We all felt that we were involved in something bigger than ourselves, and we tried hard to make it shine!
Our participation in SBDI brought a cohesiveness and a level of enthusiasm to our class in a healthy, natural way that we would not have been able to do in any other way.” —Solvang Elementary School Teacher
“I want to dance in the future because it makes me feel brave.” —4th-Grade Student