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Midvale Journal

Midvalley students focus on arts in March

May 08, 2018 10:32AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

Midvalley kindergartner Lily Pernod-Nicholsen didn’t know “grown-ups can stand on one foot” before Repertory Dance Theater came to teach her class how to move to the music.

Her classmate Avrie Marchant learned to squat like a frog to jump backwards and Braden Staker liked the running part best.

The students were learning how the body can move and not just in forms of dance like ballet or hip hop, said Lynne Larson, who is RDT’s education director and artistic associate.

“We want the students to explore different ways the body can move from reaching to twisting,” she said. “We want to empower them to create their own dance through choice. It’s an opportunity for them to learn without necessarily having a right or wrong answer.”

In addition to giving Midvalley’s 410 students 30 minutes of instruction at their appropriate grade level, RDT holds an assembly at the school that showcases eight dances as well as addresses core standards in dance and dance history. 

Principal Tamra Baker, who joined the students for a bit of dance, said that it supports the school’s Beverly Taylor Sorensen grant, which has music teacher Teresa Culberson teaching students rhythm and reading music notes.

With the support of a Canyons Education Foundation grant, students are able to play with KidStix on xylophones, glockenspiels and tunable pitch drums as well as on tambourines, cutting boards and homemade drums made from No. 10 aluminum cans and silicon hot pads.

“We’re excited to build a program, which is helping the students in several ways,” Culberson said. “It’s proven that music helps with reading, the flow from left to right and their comprehension. Students look forward to singing, playing instruments, rhythm and have more depth of knowledge and creativity. They’re enjoying school more so they aren’t dreading having tests as much when they come. It’s boosting their attitudes.”

Baker said it also helps with giving students a chance to move around so they can focus on their subjects more as well as learning parts of a whole or learning fractions with the upper grades.

She also said that with March’s focus on the arts, students will have a chance to work on a visual art project.

“It will be tied into something they’re already reading or learning in math or social studies or science. It’s a way they can talk about what they’re doing and be able to express their understanding,” she said.

The dance lesson was rewarding in itself, kindergarten teacher Ashley Bell said.

“I hope they learn that it’s OK to be silly or to have fun in school,” she said. “It’s OK for them to overcome being nervous or scared to be who we want to be and to learn different ways to dance and that’s OK if it’s not all the same. It’s important that students move around because it engages them in their academics more.” 

She said it also helped to teach them that they can be leaders.

“They (RDT) provided teachers with resources, but in that 30 minutes, it gave me more ideas we can do as ‘brain breaks.’ And the exercises are ones that students can lead themselves or do on their own. Making them own is an important part of learning,” she said.

For kindergartner Alexa Loya-Santos, it was just about having fun with her classmates. 

“I liked learning to dance like that because it was fun,” she said. “I learned some crazy moves.”