Second Grade Original Dance Sends Powerful Message
Second Grade Original Dance Sends Powerful Message

Combining cognitive and kinesthetic elements of the second grade curriculum, a guest artist from Lincoln Center inspires a joyful and creative dance that explains the importance of saving the rainforests.

For the third year in a row, second grade boys put down their books to actively engage in a weeklong dance workshop led by Susan Thomasson, a teaching artist for the Lincoln Center Institute since 1980.

Made possible by Convent & Stuart Hall's Beaux Arts Artist-in-Residence Program, this year's workshop took place during the week of May 15, culminating with a performance for parents and students in Syufy Theatre.

To help the children learn and discover the vocabulary of dance, Ms. Thomasson kicks off the week by teaching basic movements that she describes as the "building blocks of dance." Soon the boys are running, skipping, hopping, crawling and fluttering across the stage as monkeys, jaguars, toucans, frogs, bees and anteaters.

An original dance performance provides a persuasive argument for rainforest conservation.

After two years of performing Native American folktales, Ms. Thomasson choreographed a dance adaptation of The Great Kapok Tree, a picture book with an environmental message: Save the rainforest! The project, supported by the Hudson/Gibson gift to endow an annual artist-in-residence-led performance by Stuart Hall's second grade, integrates themes from the curriculum.

Ms. Thomasson is an accomplished dancer and choreographer who has performed a wide variety of modern dance styles and toured with some of the most notable dance companies such as Bill T. Jones and Rosalind Newman.