immersion grand rapids ballet school michigan

GRAND RAPIDS BALLET SCHOOL

Dance Immersion

This community outreach program was created in response to the expressed need for arts education in the public schools. Students are able to experience the joy of dancing in a positive, supportive, and educational environment. Through classes and performances, students are able to be immersed in dance and gain a greater appreciation for art.

In the fall of 2010, Grand Rapids Ballet began it’s Dance Immersion Program at Coit Creative Arts Academy. Since then the program has blossomed to serve over 2,000 students annually from Grand Rapids and Forest Hills public schools. Each classroom receives four 30-minute classes at their school as part of their regular school day. The program is supplemented through cross curricular activities and active teacher involvement. The benefits are three fold: physical, intellectual, and emotional. Students and teachers are surprised to see how the children’s gross motor skills, coordination, flexibility and strength improve in four weeks. Students benefit tremendously from cross curricular activities (Dancing out the book they are reading in class, using math to make a dance combination or making the connection between gravity and dance movements). Perhaps most importantly students are instilled with a sense of pride and confidence. Students learn to work together as a class and create a supportive environment for learning. In addition to the classes at their school, students attend at least one performance by the Grand Rapids Ballet either at their school or at DeVos Performance Hall. Each year, five students from each school are awarded 100% scholarships to continue their dance education at the Grand Rapids Ballet School.

As a teacher who participated in the Dance Immersion Program, I wanted to tell you what an amazing experience this has been for our students. The students were overwhelmingly involved in each class. They were willing to try and experiment with the lesson each week because the program was so well adapted to the needs and levels of each class. The elementary students were so excited to be learning different ways to move with their developing bodies. The middle school students were more apprehensive about the DIP classes. But, after they started taking the classes they too were enthralled. The students learned about muscles and stretching. In the beginning they could barely do it or were unable to do it, but with practice many could. I heard from a student that she has asked her parents if she could take ballet outside of school, because she loves it so much from the classes she took with DIP.Another student who was apprehensive about taking ballet, a boy, now loves that he is strengthening his body and will be better at basketball because of the DIP classes. The way the classes are presented has been terrific. These programs have been invaluable for our students who don’t get to experience these kinds of activities in their daily lives. Most kids learn to skip at an early age, but with our severely emotionally impaired children that’s not the case. Seeing the children progress and learn a new skill was such an amazing sight to see. Thank you so much for enriching our students lives.

Karen Haight