UA Touring Ensemble Brings Arts to Elementary Schools

By Payton Burkhammer, ZTV Producer | Lowdown

The University of Akron’s Touring Dance Ensemble debuted their marine-themed performances for elementary school students Sunday, Jan. 29.


Touring Ensemble is a required class for all dance majors, where over the course of a year, dancers refine their show and prepare for the final performances. The students build sets, pick music, and choreograph every dance.


When spring arrives, the preparation turns into long rehearsals and finally traveling to perform the show to local elementary school students.


The students in the class are given the job of choosing a theme for the performance, one that is educational and will be able to reach a younger audience.


Once the students have picked a theme, they must collaborate to bring their vision to life. This includes putting the show into a cohesive order and doing so in a way that will not only entertain, but resonate with elementary school students.


Junior Sarah Neiswander said, “Especially in a place like Akron where you may not get enough funds for even, like, art class they don’t see any dance. With us, they can finally see what ballet is like or what tapping is, which they wouldn’t normally.”


This year, Touring Ensemble students selected an, “Under the Sea” theme. They believe that choreography that would bring common sea creatures to life will capture the attention of younger audiences.


Sets including vibrant blues and greens, outrageous costumes replicating sea life and two narrators acting as marine biologists all work in harmony to be entertaining, yet educational for the kids.


The students realized that keeping the attention of elementary school students would be a challenging task. Keeping this in mind, the dancers chose to keep the choreography high in energy, implementing tricks and acrobatics throughout the performance.


The energy of the narrators also had to be up to par with that of the choreography. Narrators had to engage with the children, asking many questions and refraining from wordy statements.


“Little kids get distracted and bored, so all of our performances had to be high energy all the time,” Neiswander said.


One thing the students enjoy the most is getting to bring dance into places it might not usually appear. Across the nation, funding for arts education is being cut out of many schools.


With programs and classes like this, UA Touring Ensemble hopes to bring back some of that into our classrooms.