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Art Works

Summer 2002

Radio series offers
intimate visits with writers

Program highlights

Mentor shares art and life

The creative mentor

The Griffin & the Minor Canon

Interview with David Selby

What is W;t about?

Quality arts education?

How can I help students in my
community get a quality arts

WV songwriters on new CD

Quilting the Sun: Journey of
a Play

Dance from your heart

New festival celebrates

Dance from your heart

By Rose A. McDonough

Dance is a word that evokes many images and emotions for me. It isn’t just movement; it is a look into the soul of another. It is a passion. It is a therapy. It is an escape. It is a release. It is an introduction from your heart to your body. It is more than getting the body to mold to a perfect form. It is about a transformation of thought and feeling from the mind, heart and soul through every fiber of your body. Every aspect of the human body has the capability of expressing.

I learned about this sort of expression after dancing for 20 years, when I got a job teaching a group of adults with developmental and physical disabilities with Shawnee Hills. Before then, I knew the importance of stretching, rehearsing, pushing the body to perform better and better and challenging the mind to absorb more and more. I knew that when I performed my heart felt good, but I didn’t really understand the strong connection between dance and the expression of the soul. I forgot about dance’s wonderful medicinal qualities until I changed gears and looked at dance from a different perspective.

Working with students with disabilities has been the most educational and life-enriching experience in my life. I find that I am not just a teacher; I am a student myself. Witnessing how movement can truly touch someone in a way that nothing else can is positively amazing to me. When I moved on from Creative Expressions, I felt a void in my teaching. This led me to begin teaching students with disabilities again, this time through my dance studio in the community. It is a dream within my reach to someday have a company of dancers of all abilities come together and create art.

Dance educators take ballet from Eleanor A'Antuono as part of the West Virginia Dance Festival, April 26-28 at the Cultural Center. Photo by Michael Keller.

Wonderful things can happen when people come together, share their likes and differences and, furthermore, celebrate them. Through dance, a student can learn about how each part of the body can move, and how our emotions affect our bodies. Dance can help all of us build concentration skills, follow directions, become less inhibited by our bodies and discover how wonderfully creative we all are. The list could go on and on. From any angle — educational, physical or emotional — the benefits are positive.

Students with disabilities are not exempt from these benefits. Although dance may be a non-traditional teaching technique for those with disabilities, it is not new. It has just taken time to get the message out.

My main point is not to define dance, but merely to open up the many possibilities that can grow from a dance experience. Everyone has a dancer inside, and it is up to us to awaken those possibilities. In my eyes, no matter what a person’s ability level or age, dance is a wonderful, positive option for those willing to take a look inside.