Gloversville students to put best foot forward at dance show

The Gloversville Enlarged School District has found a way to enrich arts programs for its elementary

The Gloversville Enlarged School District has found a way to enrich arts programs for its elementary students without dipping into taxpayers’ pockets.

Using grants totaling $5,300 from Target’s Arts in Schools program and the Arts Council of the Capital Region and through a private donation, the district is offering 70 fourth-graders in three classes a chance to work with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, a modern dance troupe based in Troy.

The experience will culminate in May when each class presents its own interpretive dance based on a different Celtic folktale. “They are going to dance. It is a not a ballet dance. It is about modern dance, it is about moving your body. They will make up the moves,” said Boulevard fourth-grade teacher Brian DiPasquale, who wrote the grants and coordinates the program.

The district has brought in the dance troupe before, using grants, but this is the first time where students will do their own performance for the community, DiPasquale said. The performance will be May 24 at 1:30 p.m. in the Boulevard gymnasium.

“This is our biggest grant so far. Four years ago, we started this with a single grant and a small performance. Each, year, I have continued to write grants and got more people involved and it has grown steadily,” DiPasquale said.

As a follow-up, DiPasquale said he hopes to get more grades involved. “This year it is fourth-graders. Maybe we will have more elementary schools involved.”

Two dancers from the troupe will visit Boulevard this week and start working with children on developing their dance moves. “They will explore shapes and different ways of moving and begin to take their stories and tell them with their bodies,” said Kim Engle, a spokeswoman with the dance troupe who helped the school write grants.

DiPasquale said the elementary school is incorporating the dance workshops into the students’ language arts curriculum. “This helps with their language skills. They are learning about the history of Ireland and Scotland. They are learning math skills and social study skills. We are trying to pull in every subject we teach,” he said. “Our music teachers are on board. Our art teacher is involved.”

Savannah Lamont, 9, loves the dance program. “I want to teach dancing. I like how you can learn more moves then you knew before,” she said. She hopes to play the part of a young girl, a main character, in her class’ dance story.

Ayden Truax, 10, also likes the program. “It is a cool experience for fourth-graders because most people don’t get to do it,” he said. He also is hoping to play a main part in his class’ dance story. “Ours is one of the magical stories,” he said.

DiPasquale said he started writing the grants four years ago as a way to broaden students’ exposure to different types of art. “The main thing is we are over here in Fulton County and the kids don’t get to see this type of dance. It is a way to bring art to our community,” he said.

Engle said the dance troupe works in 20 to 25 schools per year, offering different levels of programs. “Some schools have larger budgets for arts and education and might not have to find outside money. But most of them if they want to do something have to find some outside support,” she said.

Engle said Gloversville is doing the right thing by its students. “They knew that they wanted to have more art infused into their schools and are finding a way to make it happen. Boulevard is going the next step and giving the kids a more in-depth experience,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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