Written by: Molly Kays, Louisville Ballet School

Thanks to Arts for Kosair Kids®, Louisville Ballet currently provides a weekly ballet class as a part of Nativity Academy’s Extended Enrichment Program.

What do you remember about the first day of programming? The last? What was the biggest change?

The excitement of starting anything new can be contagious and as the instructor I remember our first class with fondness.Students eager to share their prior experiences with dance gave me their full attention as we chatted about movement in our everyday lives and how it affected us. Unfortunately the newness wears off and ballet basics can become tedious for students who are in a hurry to learn fancy turns, and leaps. Throughout our time together I challenged the students to find focus during exercises that at times felt slow but were necessary to the technical education of ballet. They found themselves growing, using their minds and bodies to deconstruct the movement and patterns.

What challenge have you (or your student(s) faced this year? How did your agency/partnership solve it?

Moving into your teenage years can be a tough time, not only are students academics becoming more difficult they are also dealing with everyday criticism from their peers, adding the constant shadow of self-doubt. In ballet class we focused on using movement as a source of joy and relief from other stresses in our lives and gaining confidence and composure all while learning very foreign skills. The students found it second nature to judge their classmates instead of encouraging them. The goal of our classes was to reverse this thinking, giving fellow dancers compliments on their movement ideas, working together to create dance that involves emotions we feel daily, and reminding ourselves that dance can be a great source of expressing ourselves and a reminder to think positively.

What is one new thing you’ve learned/observed about the relationship between the arts and the wellbeing of the students served through Arts for Kosair Kids® this year?

At the end of each class I had the students take a few minutes to reflect on their experience. They could journal about anything, how it made them feel, what they liked or disliked, what was especially difficult. Looking back on their entries I most pleasantly surprised to find most weeks the class helped them to feel calm, it became an hour for them to escape from the long school day, homework, and the pressures of their outside lives. Despite some challenging weeks they viewed the classes as a positive part of each week. I was especially happy our program was able to provide them with a new educational experience that they looked forward to.

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