The dance program at Roeper is firmly rooted in the core mission of our school: to protect and nurture the unique identities of the students and to guide them toward self-actualization in the context of interdependence. The Roeper School practices the philosophy set forth by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, of which the National Dance Association is a member, that education in the arts is for all students, regardless of their backgrounds, talents or abilities. As many teachers can testify, the arts can be a powerful vehicle – sometimes the best vehicle – for reaching, motivating and inspiring students. In designing a dance program for gifted students, emphasis is placed upon exploration, inquiry, creativity and personalization. At all levels of the program, students learn the principles of dance composition and engage in collaborative work. This focus on the creation and performance of student- choreographed dances is a cornerstone of the Roeper dance program.
LOWER SCHOOL: EMPHASIS ON CREATIVE MOVEMENT
Every child in Stage I and II takes Creative Movement class, where their natural love of running, walking, jumping, skipping, galloping, crawling, falling and rolling is explored and celebrated. Children discover that everyday movements can be combined to create dances that tell stories and express ideas. Classroom work also emphasizes cooperation, sharing, taking turns and following verbal and visual instruction. Students in Stage II may supplement Creative Movement class with Free Choice Performing Arts, where they use dance, drama, mime, story-telling, puppet theatre and talent shows to express themselves creatively in a safe and nurturing environment.
Dance is an elective in Stages III and IV, where students may choose Creative Movement class, Dance Performance or the disciplines of yoga and tai chi. Students with a passion for dance and movement come together in a fertile environment where they feel safe taking risks, where there is a sense of adventure and imagination, where new ideas and creative solutions are explored, and where originality is fostered. They improvise, create and perform dances based on their own artistic vision, use critical thinking skills to solve movement problems, teach others their compositions, combine each other’s work, and present their dances to the Roeper community. An after-school dance enrichment program is offered to disciplined and motivated Stage III and IV dance students who wish to develop their technical skills. As members of the Lower School Dance Ensemble, these students study ballet and modern dance, and perform with Middle and Upper School dance students at an informal concert during the winter and a Spring Dance Concert at the end of the school year.
MIDDLE AND UPPER SCHOOL: BUILDING A TECHNICAL FOUNDATION
Dance at the Middle and Upper School is a year-long elective incorporating the elements of technique, improvisation, choreography, creative problem-solving, collaboration, critical analysis, dance safety, dance history and performance. Through consistent practice and dedication, students develop proficiency in the modern dance technique of Lester Horton. In addition, ballet, lyrical, contact improvisation, jazz, hip hop, yoga, tai chi and cultural dance are integrated into classroom work. As members of either the Roeper Dance Ensemble or the more technically-adept Repertory Dance Theatre, students use both their technique and their artistic vision to create individual or collaborative dances to present in performance to the Roeper community. Middle and Upper School dancers are challenged to learn more complex dance sequences and performance pieces choreographed by their teacher or other dance professionals. An Independent Study Program is provided to students who desire to work in areas beyond the context of a group class environment and to engage in more frequent one-on-one exchanges with the dance instructor. Students are provided with opportunities to study with guest teachers, to attend concerts by professional dance touring companies, to attend lecture-demonstrations and to participate in dance camps and workshops. The dance program at Roeper embraces the creative spirit of every child and provides a supportive environment for skill development and self-expression.