Recently, Elmezzi staff had the opportunity to attend a wonderful “culminating performance” as part of the Alvin Ailey Dance Residency at a local elementary school, P.S. 234Q. The performance included over 100 third graders at the school, who were dressed in brightly colored African clothing and bubbling over with excitement to show off their recently acquired West African dance techniques. As the Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs Associate, Iymaani Aytes put it, “To say that the students were good is an understatement. They were AMAZING!!! The connection they had to the live drumming was palpable. They were focused, energetic and creative—especially during the “free-style section of the show.”
The students performed for an audience of 325 fellow students, school teachers, school administrators and parents in the school auditorium. Looking around the room, you could see the proud and smiling faces of parents soaking up their children’s impressive performance—while capturing the memories on their phones and iPads. The third grader’s dancing skills, rhythm and coordinated choreography showcased their newly acquired talent, along with a sense of true excitement and enthusiasm. The student’s energy was infectious, leading to parents hopping on stage with their children during the “free-style” portion of the performance. At the end of the show, there were plenty of photos taken and even a tearful goodbye from the Ailey Teaching Artist, LaToya Wigfall. Overall, this culminating performance was a testament to the power of arts and dance in schools and the sense of pride, confidence and accomplishment that it can bring to students, teachers and parents alike.