News / USA

Nashville Ballet Troupe Dances Into Local Schools

Outreach performances inspire and educate

Brandon Sears and Lindsey Pitts of the Nashville Ballet work with children during an outreach performance.
Brandon Sears and Lindsey Pitts of the Nashville Ballet work with children during an outreach performance.

Multimedia

Audio
Mike Osborne

In the United States, ballet doesn't draw large audiences. Even in the nation’s largest cities, ballet troupes often struggle to survive. So many of them make reaching out to the wider public a top priority.

Reaching out

That's the case with the Nashville Ballet, which conducts about 150 traveling performances each year.

The Nashville Ballet's Leigh Anne Strickland doesn't need to pump up her audience. The children of Glengarry Elementary School are already excited to see a ballet performed in their school gymnasium.

"Nashville Ballet's mission is to create, perform, teach and promote dance," says Strickland, who coordinates outreach for the ballet. "So a huge part, component of that mission, is to bring the ballets and the dancers out of the studio environment to expose more people to the art form of ballet."

Learning process


The ballet coordinates these performances with State of Tennessee student requirements. So part of Strickland's job is to find connections between a ballet performance and what the children are learning in history, literature, math and science.

The Nashville Ballet’s Outreach and Community Engagement program reaches 42,000 children annually, through dance performances and interactive activities.
The Nashville Ballet’s Outreach and Community Engagement program reaches 42,000 children annually, through dance performances and interactive activities.

Even the company's portable stage backdrops find a place in the curriculum.

"A lot of the teachers like the fact that our drops incorporate a pulley system," Strickland says. "So in their science classes, when they're talking about simple machines, all the kids and teachers want to come up and see the pulley system that helps the drops go up and down."

Strickland also uses dance to meet the requirements for physical activity each school day. During the performance, she has the kids up and dancing before they even realize what they're doing.

Today, the troupe performs a ballet called "Borreguita and the Coyote." It's a Spanish folk tale about a quick-witted lamb who outsmarts a hungry coyote. Once the dancers demonstrate some of the movements, the students appreciate the skills involved.

"They use a lot of tippy-toes and they run and chase themselves," says Dana.  

"The jumping, the jumping. I never jumped that high before," Emmanuel says.

Unique opportunity

Glengarry Elementary School is in a neighborhood with a large immigrant population. According to school officials, Arabic is the first language of most of the students.

The Nashville Ballet conducts about 150 traveling performances - such as Anne Frank (pictured here) - for students across Tennessee each year.
The Nashville Ballet conducts about 150 traveling performances - such as Anne Frank (pictured here) - for students across Tennessee each year.

"For some of them, this is the only time that they'll ever experience the ballet. Their parents would not take them…could not afford to take them to see a ballet," says music teacher Donna Taylor. "The kids get an excitement about that and hopefully, in the future then, they'll make that more of priority, when they have families, to experience that kind of thing with their own children."

And Taylor says there are other advantages to having the ballet come to the school.

"They relate so much more, one-on-one, to a real person being there that they can see and ask questions to."

And some of these students could some day become ballet dancers. Troupe member Sarah Cordia remembers seeing ballet outreaches when she was a student.

"So it was really cool to see, you know, older dancers come to school and perform and do what I was working towards," says Cordia.

The Nashville Ballet charges some schools for these performances. But for Glengarry Elementary, the program is underwritten by government grants and private donations.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs