Monday, February 13, 2012

NJPAC Brings Arts Education to Life With 'Dragon'

NJPAC Brings Arts Education to Life With 'Dragon'

A recent performance of Year of the Dragon by the Nai-Ni Dance Company was followed by a Q&A and a workshop for children.

NJPAC wants New Jersey to know that it's not just for grown-ups.

Newark's downtown jewel is well-known for its world-class entertainment — hosting symphony orchestras, jazz greats and touring companies of Broadway hits. But did you know it boasts the

nation's fourth largest arts education program for school-age children?

NJPAC's comprehensive Arts Education Department consists of several divisions providing programs for children ages 3-18, their families and schools. Each season, the programs serve over 100,000 individuals. NJPAC's mission is to "continually explore innovative ways to use its resources to serve New Jersey students and educators."

This was evident on Sunday, Jan. 22 during a special Verizon Passport to Culture FamilyTime series perfomance of Year of the Dragon by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.

First, the principal of the Oliver Street School in Newark was in attendance. NJPAC has been bringing arts education programs to the school. After the perfomance — which included traditional Chinese dance including the "Dragon Dance" as well as the contemporary Whirlwind I by Glen Velez in collaboration with Nai-Ni Chen — children in the audience had the opportunity to interview the dancers on stage.

"How old were you when you started dancing?" one 7-year-old asked Sarah, 14, and Erika

, 13, from Nai-Ni Chen's junior company.

Next, children and their families where invited to a hands-on workshop with the per

formers in the Chase Room of the Arts Center, where they made masks and learned some traditional Chinese dances.

Sandra Bowie, NJPAC Vice President of Arts Education, explained how NJPAC arts education programs include arts training, in-school residencies (see Seth Boyden School's Dancing Classrooms program), and schooltime perfomances. For the FamilyTime perfomances, NJPAC also provides Teacher's Resource Guides that are written for use by teachers who bring their classes to performances.

Observing the room full of dancing children, Bowie said, "They're having fun and they're learning!"

Learning some dances in the workshop

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