Most of us agree that the arts are important, but Artistic Director Melanie Kirk-Stauffer of Dance Theatre Northwest, in University Place, WA, stresses that the arts are also part of education. In fact, she is giving back to the community through a series of four FREE dance performances called Arts Are Education. All take place in the Tacoma area, three at elementary schools and one at Narrows Glen, a retirement and assisted living community, and all are free, open to the public, and handicapped accessible. The first is this Friday, March 29. (See complete schedule and locations below.)
"We have been rehearsing for weeks getting ready for this series of Arts Are Education performances,” she said. ”I believe it is essential that young people in our area have exposure to ballet based classical and contemporary dance.”
|DTNW Company dancers Chhay Mam and Katie Newmann photo by Maks Zakharov|
As a dancer, dance teacher, and internationally recognized lecturer and choreographer teacher for many years, Kirk-Stauffer has lived with dance as her life’s passion since childhood and loves to share that joy and give back to her community. She has seen firsthand how important it is to bring the arts to schools, especially at a time when there is so little money available and arts programs wrongly sink lower on the lists of priorities, in spite of the benefits.
In fact, research proves those benefits. According to an organization called Americans for the Arts, of which she is a member, students with an education rich in art:
· Have better grade point averages· Score better on standardized tests in reading and math
· Have lower dropout rates
Americans for the Arts also states that:“Young people who consistently participate in comprehensive, sequential, and rigorous arts programs are:
· 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
· 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
· 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
· 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
· 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
|Lauren Trodahl - DTNW Adanced Junior Dance Ensemble member Photo by Maks Zakharov|
The Arts Are Education performances feature DTNW’s professional dance company members Katie Neumann and Chhay Mam, along with guest artists and student performers. This year, the series offers excerpts from Swan Lake. For many school children, and even a surprising number of adults, this kind of live dance performance in often the first they’ve ever experienced. And they love it.
“Our community outreach programs are fun and inspiring for all involved," Kirk-Stauffer said. It’s true. I’ve been to them and hope you can catch a performance too, at one of these times and locations.
Friday, March 29: Edison Elementary School, 5830 S. Pine St., Tacoma, WA 98409 at 2:15 p.m.
Friday, April 5: Christensen Elementary School, 10232 Barnes Lane S., Pierce WA 98444 at 2:45 p.m.
Saturday, April 6: Narrows Glen, 8201 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406 at 7 p.m.
Friday, April 19: Sheridan Elementary School 5317 McKinley Ave., Tacoma, WA 98404 at 1:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.