Since 2009, with generous support from General Mills Foundation and Children’s Foundation of Erie County, Young Audiences WNY has offered Keep It Moving!, a 35 session after school dance and fitness program each year.

Students have the opportunity to work with lead artist Cindy Hanna in contemporary dance, as well Kip Ralabate in ballroom, Sarah Haykel in Salsa and hip hop, and Configuration Dance Theatre in ballet, LehrerDance in contemporary/modern, and LaBallet Touba in African dance.

Students learned healthy choices for best nutrition, exploring the food pyramid and the fitness required to be an outstanding dancer. Dance forms learned include Contemporary, Modern, Hip Hop, Salsa, Ballroom, and Ballet.

In 2009-2014 we have partnered with the following after school programs on this program:

  • Butler-Mitchell Boys & Girls Club, Buffalo
  • Edward Saunders Center, Community Action Organization, Buffalo
  • JFK Community Center, Community Action Organization, Buffalo
  • Pratt Willert Center, Community Action Organization, Buffalo
  • Salvation Army After School Program, Buffalo
  • Southtowns Community Action Organization, Angola
  • Waterfront Elementary School, Buffalo

Keep It Moving! from Young Audiences on Vimeo

This video showcases the final session with lead teaching artist for this project, Cindy Hanna.

You may also view this video on YouTube, click through here.

Students maintained journals throughout the year, providing a manual for them to refer to for healthy choices in years to come.

Above, photos and samples from student journals, visible on our Flickr page

An excerpt from the independent evaluation of the program conducted by Manya Fabiniak, BA, University at Buffalo follows:

Students quickly learned the relationship between endurance ability and their desire to dance. They also experienced how their physical form affects their mobility and precision. The health benefits of a cardio workout were consistently emphasized. Students learned that tangible sweat clears toxins from the body as well as stress on the mind, and contributes to experiencing fewer colds. They were exuberantly coached by the teaching artists to release any fear of discomfort as they strove to build muscle endurance and employ technique.  Since the ages of the artists were broad in their expanse, they provided ideal role models for demonstrating the success of a healthy lifestyle in the field of dance.

Students demonstrated a vivid attention to their instructors, and were made to understand their position as part of a dance corps. The different dance forms provided an opportunity to learn the importance of the individual’s relationship to the whole. Not only did they demonstrate an understanding of discipline tied to movements, but each student had to be aware of their integrity to others and honor the pace and structural format of the choreography as well as the class. Respect for another’s space was seen as a necessary requirement for conducting movements.

The ballet instruction under Joseph Cipolla provided an excellent venue for highlighting the multidimensional levels of learning that students experienced. Mr. Cipolla is creator and artistic director of the Configuration Dance Company, a troupe which has performed globally for a number of years.  In that alone he too serves as a positive male role model and an encouraging presence. 

Since a ballet class is extremely structured, students quickly learned to understand ballet terms as they coordinated movements and rhythm, all the while keeping their position in space. Students demonstrated discipline and poise as they focused on stillness in order to find their center. This provided an opportunity to experience personal power as an authority over creative actions.  Endurance was required to hold a pose, as well as execute a leap.

Each dance format created an opportunity for experiencing the importance of flexibility in a unique way. The grace necessary for ballroom and ballet was complimented by the rigor of hip-hop and jazz. Students learned that all dance requires an understanding of structure, where one movement transforms itself into another in one continuous flow and energy and muscle. To keep this flow in operation requires healthy eating habits on a continuous basis. For Ms. Hanna, “students soon understood the connection of why the dancers were also teaching them nutritional health.” A holistic approach was also exceedingly important to Ms. Hanna, and was demonstrated at the end of each class with a closing ceremony. Students were asked to form a large circle and pass the “pound around” as they silently honored one another, expanding the experience of an esprit de corps, an understanding that can serve them in any future endeavor.