Dance at Sierra Madre Elementary School with
Lynnanne Hanson Miller, Teaching Artist, Dance Educator, Choreographer
Dance together with music, theater and visual arts are part of the well rounded education that SMES offers!
Since 2012, Miss Lynnanne as the students know her, has taught standards based dance classes to most grade levels at SMES. This series of 4 to 6 sessions are participatory, engaging and fun for the students. Recently they have culminated in a “Family Sharing Event” where parents are invited to observe their child’s final dance class and participate in a community dance with the students and teacher.
As a Teaching Artist for the last 30 years these classes focuses on folk dance instruction for K thru 5 students via the Visual and Performing Arts Standards, Content Standards, Common Core State Standards and classroom curriculum. “This is very rewarding since children are natural movers and therefore are happy to be attending dance class at school. And this experience has given me the background to create and produce both historical and modern a stage-worthy choreographies for children in a short amount of time. Creating choreography for a specific theme for a specific grade level is especially challenging and time consuming, yet is very rewarding as the students are always engaged and excited to perform.”
The monthly Spotlight Assemblies include a performance prior to the presenting of the Spotlight Awards where the Principal and teachers acknowledge student achievement. As part of this assembly, every student in each grade level, Kinder thru 5th, gets a chance to present a performance via singing, acting and dancing, about a time and place in the history of the arts.
These performances were created by former teacher, Vice Principal and Principal Emeritus Gayle Bluemel and have taken place since 1996. Currently, Ms. Emily Clark, an actor and Drama Teacher is the Director and Ms. Bluemel volunteers her extraordinary piano playing skills to accompany the students. And since my daughter began attending in 2006, I have been the Spotlight Choreographer since 2007.
Each Spotlight showcases two or three styles of historical dance. Miss Lynnanne choreographs age appropriate, thematic dance numbers as well as to encourage students to contribute creatively to these dances. They not only learn the steps, but also about the dance’s history and purpose, how the dance communicates a time and place all while working together collaboratively using critical thinking skills along the way.
And no performance would be complete without costumes! These are provided by our amazing volunteer Costume Committee comprised of capable and willing parents that put together and create costumes and props from the ever-expanding supply at school, from donations to that supply as well as cutting, sewing and gluing whatever else in needed to help the students “play the part.”
Also for each Spotlight, students are provided the opportunity to create Visual Art pieces that align with the theme which are then displayed in an art gallery style in the foyer of the auditorium.
Past themes explored have been:
- The History of Modern American Music and Dance
- World Cultures through Art (Americas, Africa)
- World Cultures through Art (Europe, Asia)
The 2018-2019 Spotlight theme is a continuation of a two year theme of “A Timeline of World Art History.” It started with the history of the arts of Early Man/Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and continued with Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Medieval Times and Fairy Tales. This year continues the timeline with the Renaissance and Baroque eras and the Classical and Romantic eras.
As an example of all that is entailed in a Spotlight script, the third grade class will perform and educate their audience of fellow school students, parents and community members about the Impressionism era of art, the 1860s to the 1920s, both in Europe and America. You will see students act the part of artists such as Renoir, Monet, Degas and Mary Cassatt and hearing music and songs by Gilbert and Sullivan, Claude Debussy, Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan.
In addition to singing and acting, the students will be doing two dance numbers; a ballet to the beautiful piano piece entitled “Clair de Lune.” And another group of students will be dancing a Ragtime Foxtrot to the ever popular piece “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”
Assemblies this year will continue with the Expressionism era presented by the 2nd grade class and the Modern era presented by the 1st grade students. Each year, the very cute Kindergartener’s perform a snippet from each assembly in a presentation called “The Year in Review.”
The classroom teachers are a key element in the success of these performances as they play recordings of the songs and introduce aspects of the script to the students prior to their first grade level rehearsal with the performing arts specialists.
Another aspect of dance on campus is the Annual Father Daughter Dance and the dance class held a week before the event. Miss Lynnanne has been presenting this very fun and special dance class since 2008. Recently this event and dance class have expanded to become a Family Dance Evening.
Also the ever-popular “Song and Dance Maniacs” Friday elective has had 4th and 5th grade students singing and dancing for many years led by 5th grade teachers, Tina Johnson and Kim Sibbrel.
Long live the arts!