University of Alabama dance team visits Welti Elementary

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The Dance Alabama! performers gave Welti students an opportunity to join in the fun. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

WELTI, Ala. – A bad weather school closure may have canceled its February visit, but University of Alabama student dance team Dance Alabama! stayed true to its word and came to Welti Elementary School Friday morning.  The student body was treated to performances of traditional ballet, early modern, tap, jazz, hip-hop and modern contemporary dance. Afterward, a handful of volunteers from among the students were even invited to come up and dance with team members after a few minutes of warm-up and instruction.

Dance Alabama! faculty advisor Lawrence Jackson shared about his group, “The students create and design their own concert; they choreograph the concert, the faculty adjudicates their choreographic works, and then they perform in both the fall and the spring. They do a concert in the fall and another one in the spring.

“Then what we do with that concert is we extract pieces from that concert, and we take it on tour around Alabama in the spring . . . It’s what brought us here through the Alabama Touring Arts program.”

In an earlier press release, the group explained its approach, as well as the state’s touring arts program:

Dance Alabama! presents concerts that highlight work from University of Alabama student and faculty choreographers. In each performance, there is a mixture of group works, solos, duets and trios that engage students with fantastic partnering as well as a range of movement styles. Performances show a diverse repertoire of dance works, which include classical ballet, contemporary modern dance and hip-hop mixed with traditional jazz.  Dance Alabama! performances that occur throughout the academic year. These performances are choreographed and designed by students and faculty.

Following the performances, dancers engage the student audience through dialogue and questions, other times through call and response exercises, or through leading a brief warm-up and creating a short dance with the students.

The Alabama Touring Artist Program provides performances of music, dance and theatre by

Alabama artists for Alabama children.  “Alabama is indeed fortunate to have an abundance of outstanding performing artists,” said Joel Daves IV, Council chairman. “Providing opportunities for students to enjoy and learn through the arts is a top priority for the Council.”

The Alabama State Council on the Arts is the official state arts agency of Alabama. The staff of the Council, directed by Elliot Knight, administers the grants programs and provides financial assistance in arts education and programming. The Council receives its support through an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

After the performance, Principal Gina Webb shared, “Welti Elementary was truly grateful to be awarded a grant by the Alabama State Council on the Arts statewide Touring Artist Program.  The Dance Alabama group did an amazing job performing and interacting with our students. Learning through the arts helps our students develop problem-solving skills, language skills, decision-making skills, and boosts critical thinking.  

“Through art education, students become more creative, confident and accountable.  The arts engage students in a way that is nontraditional. Most importantly, the arts are fun for kids! All it took was looking at the faces  of our students to see the joy and excitement dance created.”

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com