Ballet AZ Blog

New Year, New Us, New Programs!

Since the beginning of the year, the Education and Community Outreach department at Ballet Arizona has undergone a number of changes, each to help guide us forward toward our goals.

First, Ballet Arizona invited me, Alexandra Papazian, to join the team in January, growing the Education and Community Outreach team to include a full-time staff member fully devoted to these activities. Get to know me!

Second, we changed our name to reflect our desire to grow our programs and relationships to be more high-touch, synergistic, and passion-driven rather than one-time, low-impact events.

Education & Community Outreach >>> Education & Community ENGAGEMENT

Third, with the help of the Education and Community Engagement Committee, we created a Mission and a Vision for our department that will help shape and influence our future growth.

Mission: to expand access to, knowledge of, and engagement in live dance arts in Arizona communities

Vision: To elevate the lives of Arizonans by using dance as a means to captivate attention, stimulate intellect, enhance physicality, awaken emotion/creativity, empower the spirit, broaden aesthetic/cultural ideas, and increase social bonding.

And last, we developed a brand-new program that encompasses all these ideals—danceAZ.

Students from Frontier Elementary in Peoria, AZ.
Students from Frontier Elementary in Peoria, AZ.

danceAZ was born out of the pressing need for more youth arts engagement opportunities in schools.  According to a report from the Arizona Arts Education Census Project, in 2010, only 9% of Arizona elementary schools offered dance education to their students.  Of the 263 elementary schools surveyed, that’s only 23 schools!  Our children stand to gain so much from participation in dance activities; Countless studies have linked participation in dance and arts engagement to many beneficial outcomes including increased physical ability, coordination, collaborative skills, creativity, imagination, problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and much more.  These skills not only translate to academic success but also continue to serve people throughout their careers and personal lives and that’s why we believe this program is so important.

Under the guidance of the Ballet Arizona teachers, students in grades 3-5 will learn basic ballet steps, terminology, choreography, classroom etiquette, and performance decorum during 12 classes over 6 weeks.  The program will culminate in a free performance for family, friends, and the school community by our student participants and Ballet Arizona studio company and professional dancers.  As part of the program, we will also provide participating students and their families with free ticket vouchers to attend one of our full-length productions in the theater.  In addition to providing the students with an introductory dance experience and teaching them valuable skills, we will also strive to encourage active participation in community events, family togetherness, and bonding over shared experience.  Dance has the ability to empower both individuals and entire communities and we hope to accomplish both with our danceAZ program.

Ballet Arizona will officially launch this program in the Fall, and during this pilot year, will be partnering with 6 different schools across Maricopa County.  Five of our school partners are Title I schools and one lies in an outlying, underserved area of Phoenix.  Our partners are:  Frontier Elementary School, Clarendon Elementary School, Kenilworth School, Scales Technology Academy, Moon Mountain School, and Don Mensendick School.  In future years, we hope to expand this program to run for full semesters and to partner with more schools across the Valley to reach more of our children.

It truly takes a village to be able to do good work like this and it wouldn’t be possible without your support. Thank you!

Students from Frontier Elementary in Peoria, AZ.
Students from Frontier Elementary in Peoria, AZ.

Interested in the research behind the program? See below!

2010 Arizona Arts Education Census

2014 Arizona Education Census Update

The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies

Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

NEA Art Works Blog: Why the Arts Matter

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