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Posted in Rochester Education
“Bamber Valley Elementary School fifth graders performing in the Family Albums theme entitled ‘When We’re Done Traveling...’” Students involved in no particular order: Ava Baudoin,Tyler Bendickson, Shinny Chang, Erika Cruz, Angiee Deanda, Isabelle Heim, Ilias Hemker-Kopsidas, Chelsy Lara, Daniel Lara, Juan Lozano, Priyanka Mirsa, Lisbeth Navarro Hernandez, Ethan Poch, Braedon Reeves, Lindsey Rojas Chavez, Erik Sanderson, Davis Schulz, Raya Shafeeq, Mohamed Shei, Zachary Shimek, Justin Tarpenning, Michael Thiem, Sophia Verkerke, Ashton Voss, Michael Wiltgen, Iris Zhang, Izabella Allison, Isaiah Anderson, Allie Casad, Sydnee Hanson, Hunter Holst. Photo by Andy Seifert
The March 1 Family Albums performance, put on by 125 fifth graders, was made possible by a two-week residency of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. Art teacher Jennifer Olson heard about the dance group this past fall and signed them on. “It has been such an amazing experience,” Jennifer said.
Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater artistic co-director Suzanne Costello introduced the performance. “This is all original work,” she explained. “All very fast. We did it in nine days which is kind of tremendous.”
Family Albums explored four specific themes dealing with family. In movement, students shared stories about travel, languages, names, and, using different zippers as examples, diversity.
For some Bamber Valley fifth graders, it was all about the movement. “It was group dancing, moving … cartwheels, jumping and just having fun,” said fifth grader Sydnee Hanson.
Others enjoyed learning new things. “I didn’t realize some people in my class were from Germany,” Allie Casad said. Connor Campbell agreed. He enjoyed learning about his family history while learning new languages from other classmates.
Mary Nyan said, “My favorite part was learning other languages and learning more about people.” She was amazed by how much she learned about her fellow fifth graders. There were a lot of things she never would have known just from saying ‘hello’ while passing friends in school hallways.
Students wrote “I Am From” poems in preparation for Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater’s residency. They got the chance to share these poems at the performance in video. “I am from the ancient temple of China,” one student said. “I am from the loving, teasing taunts from my brothers,” another explained. In video, the entire group concluded, “We are all from family album” and cheered loudly, all 125 of them.
Jenny Roas and Juan Pablo Montori said their favorite part of Family Albums was that they could express themselves. They both performed for the theme about names. “I liked that each class got their own teacher and theme,” Jenny said. “We got to be different.” Juan agreed, saying that, compared to a regular class, the past two weeks were “more contemporary, upbeat and individualistic.” He explained, “Everyone can express who they are. Some do big movements. Others,” he smiled, “others talk a lot.”
Speaking in Spanish, Juan and Jenny added that this performance was a unique opportunity for their parents. They mentioned that their parents didn’t often hear Spanish being spoken at school events. “We don’t get many chances like this,” Juan said.
Perhaps most importantly, the event was fun. Olivia Rohe was excited for a dance sequence she performed with friends. “Everyone put something from themselves into the dance,” she said. “It was both learning and having fun.”
“We’ve learned a lot,” Jennifer Olson said, “we will be incorporating these things into the classroom … The program changed us and brought everyone together. We would love to have Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater come back but we will give another school the chance.”
The residency program was made possible, in part, by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board. For more information, visit www.stuartpimsler.com.