NPR reported on a homecoming visit by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company‘s new creative director. He reportedly had a rough upbringing. The school he attended had an arts program which inspired him to become a dancer instead of a lost soul. This school offered dance classes to ninth graders. Dedicated teachers followed through with encouragement.
Too often schools cut budgets and out go music, painting, trips and yes, dance. This article reinforced not only the encouragement the new director gave to current students, but it quotes a mother of a current student. She attended the same classes and was eager to have the dance experience for her daughter.
Learning and teaching are most effective when done creatively. Helping a child develop self-confidence and imagination is a gift. It does not matter how these skills are used as long as the results are positive..
The Alvin Ailey Dance Troop performed at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in the 1980s. I was hosting Miss Ella Jenkins for the TN Arts Commission. After the show, she requested that I take her back stage. Who knew she was involved in the music, Wade in The Water?
Ella, an internationally admired artist, was in TN to share her talents with school children in Nashville, Jackson and later, Chattanooga. We found many teachers were using her recordings and song/response techniques. In Jackson, all elementary, middle and private school children attended her performance at the City Civic Center.
Check her website (www.ellajenkins.com) for music and more of her story.
Ella Jenkins was the Teen Program director in the Ida B. Wells YWCA (Chicago) when I was hired. Through a few years, she contemplated following her music or higher education in social work. There was a promise of a career advancement after an advanced degree. She followed her business plan with a file cabinet, a telephone, and no guarantee.
- Man Behind Alvin Ailey Dance Company Returns To His S. Fla. Roots (miami.cbslocal.com)
- How Alvin Ailey keeps dancing (management.fortune.cnn.com)