The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

U of I Repertory Dance Company

I don’t think I will ever grow tired of writing the praises of the amazing fine arts program we have here in the Urbana School District! My fine arts education in grade school was limited to a weekly trip to the music room with Mrs. Howell, a very, very, very old woman teaching us from very, very, very old books. (She did teach me how to play the recorder in fourth grade, though); a weekly visit from the Art Lady (I honestly don’t think I ever knew her actual name); and, in fifth grade, joining the beginning band where I first started playing the trumpet (a instrument I still play to this day, unlike the recorder, on which I can only play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Hot Cross Buns”). Our fine arts experiences expanded slightly in middle school but it wasn’t until high school that the opportunity to really dig into them was made possible. Sadly, due to my bizarre desire to take an abundance of academic courses, my high fine arts experiences were limited to all of the bands (concert, jazz, marching, symphonic), and the concert choir. (I did audition for the show choir my junior year but didn’t make it, ending a glorious reign of Valencic boys in the Washington Community High School Company.)

Knowing how much I missed out on the fine arts is, in part, why I am always so excited by the options and the opportunities presented to my students now. In addition to the regular classes of visual arts, music, dance, and drama, we get to have performers from the University of Illinois visit our school on a fairly regular basis. One such event took place last Friday. The U of I Repertory Dance Company came to showcase the different styles of dance that they learn in their program. Students got to see examples of modern dance, jazz, ballet, hip hop, and African dance and to learn about the choreography process. It was an awesome experience!

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At the end of the performances the dancers allowed students to ask them questions. Not every student got to ask his/her question, but the performers told them that they could write them down later and have their teachers deliver them. This doesn’t actually happen very often, but I had one student who wrote a letter to one of the dancers. I don’t know what she (the student) wrote and I don’t know if she (the dancer) will respond, but I do know this: if the performance had a positive impact on at least one student, it was definitely worth it!

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