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Two California Stories Told Through Dance

Choreographed and narrated by visiting artist Susan Thomasson, second grade boys and girls told two distinctly California stories through dance.

The annual second grade dance intensive with Susan Thomasson offers students an introduction to the elements of dance while building toward a final performance.  

“Movement is a language through which we can tell stories, create images or pictures, create abstract patterns in space and time, and express emotions — it’s capable of all those things,” Ms. Thomasson told an audience of parents in Syufy Theatre before the second grade boys took the stage.

Inspired by a K–12 dance curriculum Ms. Thomasson created for New York City’s Department of Education focused on the Chinese-American experience, Stuart Hall students performed an original piece depicting Chinese workers’ contributions to building the Transcontinental Railroad. 

The following week, Convent second graders told the migration story of westward-bound pioneer women on the California Trail who challenged gender roles with an adventurous spirit and a resourceful approach to life on a wagon train.

Made possible by the Hudson Gibson Endowed Fund to support the Beaux Arts Artist-in-Residence Program at Stuart Hall for Boys and a related endowed fund at Convent Elementary, a dance workshop with Ms. Thomasson has become a hallmark of the second grade experience. You can watch full-length recordings of both of this year’s performances below.

Stuart Hall Performance, May 13, 2022


Convent Performance, May 20, 2022

Photo credit: Michel Edens Photography