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In April 2022 NDEO was approached by the Lorain City School District in Lorain, Ohio to help them create a K-12 district wide dance program. This project will serve as a model for other communities wanting to expand dance as an art form. This initiative came as a result of the communities response to a district wide parental survey regarding expanding the districs arts programming to dance, as well as the district administrations ability to be far-sighted and student centered.
Outcomes of this inititive include:
Lorain City Schools is rebuilding its fine arts offerings for a new generation of young artists, musicians, actors, and dancers. The district of more than 6,100 students that is a stone’s throw from Lake Erie and minutes away from the vibrant arts community of Northeast Ohio is so committed to a robust dance, music, and visual arts program for all students that district leadership has embedded expressive education into its strategic plan, aptly named "We Believe."
The result: Lorain City Schools is now the only public school district in Ohio with a comprehensive K-12 Dance Education Program with classes taught in all 14 schools.
The program's first years are being supported by American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds, which have allowed for equipment purchases and outfitting 10 classrooms as dance studios. Nine professional dance educators were selected in a nationwide search for the best instructors to pioneer this groundbreaking program.
Together, the group brings the craft they love to the classroom while developing curricular materials, mounting appropriate performance experiences, and welcoming community partnerships. Students engage in a comprehensive dance experience that builds year-over-year, emphasizing the elements of Body, Space, Energy, and Time; safe and healthy movements; and dance's social and emotional value worldwide.
Much of the preliminary work to bring the Lorain Schools Dance Program to fruition occurred while the district was under state oversight, which did not deter local leaders from giving students the opportunities they deserve. Since the fine arts expansion and the addition of dance to the K-12 curriculum, Lorain Schools has resumed local governance, seen the return of hundreds of students to the district, and is seeing gains in student attendance at a time when chronic absenteeism is at an all-time high nationwide.
Students have benefitted from many partnership opportunities from notable companies, including Groundworks Dance Theatre, Inlet Dance Theatre, Oberlin College and Conservatory of Dance, and Dance Cleveland, with more to come. Additional support by OhioDance, the Ohio Department of Education, and NDEO has been key to successfully integrating dance into the schools and the Lorain community.
The Lorain Schools Dance Program is not just transforming students' lives but is proving to the world that dance education can exist and thrive in any community. Learn more at lorainschools.org/dance
Photo by Michael Paciotti