"Follow your heart. Be true to your self and be true to what’s inside of you. Don’t just say you’re an artist—make your art. Don’t talk about your art—do your art, and the rest will follow. There are tremendous challenges, but don’t ever give up. It’s the most worthwhile thing."   -Hilary Palanza

 

PALANZA's Teaching Experiences and Perspectives on Dance Education for Children

 

Hard work, compassion and collaboration are qualities of a really good dance class. Dance helps us succeed, as we have the potential to gain incredible strength emotionally, psychologically and physically and are given tools to handle complicated situations with grace, patience and love for our fellow citizen.

I graduated with a BA in dance from the Colorado College in Colorado Springs.  My senior year, I was awarded a travel grant to train in NYC with the National Dance Institute under Jaques D'Amboise of the NYC Ballet.  NDI training paved the way for additional experiences which helped to shape my teaching career;  in 2007 I taught with the Artistic Director of the National Dance Institute in Bangalore, India in Nritygram's dance village.  This eye-opening experience made me fall in love with dance teaching as I saw it's positive, immediate effects on children of all socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities.  Following this experience, I co-directed a dance school in Crested Butte, Colorado that served over 200 children in after-school classes.  Upon moving to the Bay Area,  a need for professional dance classes for children became apparent; dance that combined technique and self-expression, and that would include boys, varying socioeconomic backgrounds and physical abilities. In 2011 I opened Children's Center for Dance inside the Presidio, with satellite programming in schools throughout San Francisco and Marin.

I care deeply about the role of constructive dance education.  As teachers, we are constantly exploring and learning, and children have as much to teach us about freedom, expression and joy as we have to teach them about plies, tendus, traveling successfully from the floor to our feet, and learning choreography.

I have seen the positive effects when dance is introduced into children's lives: increased rhythm and musicality cognition, positive emotional behavior, physical balance, strength and agility are all effects of successful dance instruction. Not to mention, children are also better social creatures after taking dance classes; they learn about how to make room for others and also how to take up space with courage and confidence.

My love for dance and children are inextricably linked; no matter the perfection of the moves, watching children dance freely is a way to experience true joy!

PALANZA Performing Company Artistic Mission

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