Our Visit to the Thomas A. Edison School
On May 29, 2015, our Director Carole Alexis and her Company of professional dancers visited the Thomas A. Edison School, a public elementary school in Port Chester, at the invitation of Community School Coordinator Maria Flores. Director Alexis spoke to the nearly 200 children gathered on the gymnasium floor about the origins of ballet, about how this form of dance actually developed among the aristocracy in 15th century Italy out of the martial art of fencing, and she demonstrated how the basic positions and moves of ballet derived from the respective positions and moves in traditional fencing. The Director also talked about the first national academy of dance founded in France in the 17th century by the “sun king” Louis XIV, who was himself the leading dancer. Finally, she spoke a bit about the pieces from the repertoire that the Company was about to present, including “Macouba,” explaining that this piece was inspired by an East Indian community living in the town of Macouba on the Island of Martinique, a community that has largely preserved its identity over centuries, while also in cultural exchange with the surrounding African-European community.
As the photos below attest, the children were very engaged, even mesmerized by the ensuing performance, and from time to time would voice their amazement when they saw a particularly beautiful costume or striking dance move. The teachers and support staff as well as Community School Coordinator, Maria Flores, were also very pleased, asking questions, thanking us for bringing this performance to the children, and stating that they had also learned a thing or two in addition to have enjoyed the show.
We were very inspired by this first visit to a local school and are looking forward to many more in the Fall. Thanks to an Arts Alive Community Project Grant from ArtsWestchester, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, we are able to bring, with the organizational help of Mrs. Flores, 15 children from Thomas Edison Elementary and 15 accompanying adults to our premiere of Peter and the Wolf at the Emelin Theatre on June 14th.