African Dance Students Wow Gala Guests

Residency • Dance

Performing at a gala alongside professional artists that raised $340,000 for arts education, and then going home to prepare for another day of 4th grade? That’s all part of the residency experience here at Urban Gateways.

For the past three years, teaching artist Amaniyea Payne has led an after school dance program for 3rd-5th graders at South Shore Fine Arts Academy called Natural Rhythmic Movements. In the program, students learn different techniques in African dance and other influential styles, including contemporary, jazz, vernacular, ballet, and multicultural dance styles. Dance is used as a fun way to simultaneously develop students’ critical thinking and perception, to expand their vocabulary, and encourage their creativity. The program combines cultural enrichment with learning about history, music, language, and traditions, while getting the students moving. Amaniyea says that “most of all the residency is designed to engage students in building self esteem and better social relations as well as create an environment that leads to discussions and exchanging of ideas”. 

In addition to separate class presentations at the end of the program, a select group of South Shore students were invited to perform at the 2016 Art for All Gala in March. This was an incredible opportunity for the students, whose hard work and creativity shone through and amazed the Gala guests.

Amaniyea recognizes the many positive qualities that dance and other types of arts education promote: “The classes and sessions held throughout the years have truly aided in the understanding that a good dancer/student is a great thinker coinciding with the spirit of cooperation and unity to accomplish, achieve, and evolve; as well as a great respect for various cultures and pride in themselves.”

Read more about Amaniyea’s experience teaching at South Shore Fine Arts Academy on our blog.