October was a big month for Piedmont Arts’ educational outreach. The museum brought 26 virtual and in-person programs to 487 students in Martinsville-Henry County.
“During the pandemic, reaching students with impactful arts programming has been more challenging, but Piedmont Arts and our local teachers and schools have gone above and beyond to provide these free resources to our students,” said Sarah Short, director of programs.
Free arts-based programs Piedmont Arts provided to local schools include:
Latin Ballet of Virginia’s Dance as Therapy – (6 performances) – Piedmont Arts brought Latin Ballet of Virginia’s Dance as Therapy to students at Campbell Court Elementary and Albert Harris Elementary, Oct. 4 – 6. The virtual program introduced ELL students and students with special needs to the joy of movement and the cultures of Spain and Latin America. Dance as Therapy develops imagination, memory, social skills, positive body image and problem solving while building confidence and promoting self-respect through artistic expression. Students were exposed to live drumming and dances to Caribbean and Latin music, which encouraged students to feel rhythms and understand basic dance movements and directions. Rhythm provides bio-feedback helping students experience increased sensory organization, attention and focus.
Latin Ballet of Virginia was founded in 1997 under the direction of Ana Ines King, a native of Colombia. A professional dance company and school, Latin Ballet provides multicultural dance programs, instruction and performances for a diverse community. It is central Virginia’s preeminent Hispanic dance company, performing throughout the state and at venues in North and South America.
Southwest Virginia Ballet’s Dance Español – (3 workshops) – Piedmont Arts brought Dance Español to students at Campbell Court Elementary on Oct. 15. Pedro Szalay, the ballet’s dynamic artistic director, led the in-person workshop that wove together Spanish language, basic movement, music appreciation, pattern memorization and awareness of mind, body and space. Students learned how to use body language to identify and interact positively with others and demonstrate feelings through movements.
Southwest Virginia Ballet has been contributing to its community for 29 years, serving over 15,000 children and adults annually. The company provides pre-professional training and quality performances of varied repertoire including classical ballet, contemporary and modern works. In 2006, Szalay joined Southwest Virginia Ballet, becoming artistic director in 2007. Under his leadership, company membership has doubled in size and has gained regional, national and international acclaim.
Kid Pan Alley – (16 workshops) – Kid Pan Alley’s Paul Reisler and Justin Roth led fourth-grade students at Albert Harris Elementary in songwriting workshops, as part of Piedmont Arts’ educational outreach program, Oct. 25 – 28. Song topics ranged from pumpkins jamming in the patch, to a dog being the best kind of friend, to songs that process feelings from the pandemic. Another round of workshops will take place at Axton Elementary in November, with a joint concert to be announced.
Kid Pan Alley’s professional teaching artists guide children to create an original song together as a team – sparking creativity, building community, and fostering respect for diverse perspectives. Students collaborate to choose their song topic, write original lyrics and melody and record the song once it’s complete. Since its founding in 1999, Kid Pan Alley has inspired a creative tidal wave of more than 2,700 original songs written and performed with over 65,000 children from Vermont to Hawai’i. Its five studio albums feature such artists as Amy Grant, Sissy Spacek, Delbert McClinton, Kix Brooks, Cracker, Nashville Chamber Orchestra and many others. The albums have won numerous awards including a Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE, Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver honors, a NAPPA Gold Award and a Grammy nomination.
Dr. Elliot Engel’s “The Tortured Genius of Edgar Allan Poe” – (1 performance) – English classes from Bassett High School, Magna Vista High School and Carlisle’s Upper School tuned in to hear the tragic (and spooky) biography of Edgar Allan Poe from renowned professor and lecturer Dr. Elliot Engel on Oct. 29. Part of Piedmont Arts’ educational outreach program, Dr. Engel’s talk kicked off the study of poetry units centered around Poe’s works and began a series of poetry workshops hosted by Piedmont Arts to encourage participation in Poetry Out Loud, a dynamic poetry recitation competition for high school students across the country. Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at PiedmontArts.org.
Dr. Engel lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he has taught at the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University and Duke University. He has written ten books published in England, Japan, Turkey and the United States. His mini-lecture series on Charles Dickens ran on PBS television stations around the country. His articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and national magazines including Newsweek. Dr. Engel has lectured throughout the United States and on all the continents, including Antarctica. In 2009, he was inducted into the Royal Society of Arts in England for his academic work and service in promoting Charles Dickens.