Nazareth College collaboration gets Bears moving
May 2, 2023
A new collaboration is bringing dance to Florence Brasser Elementary School. For two weeks in March, Nazareth College dance students traveled to Brasser to help Donna Dunn’s fifth-grade music students choreograph their own dances.
“The students are not only learning about music through what they see and what they hear but also how their bodies experience it,” said Allison Thomashefski, adjunct professor of dance at Nazareth College.
Thomashefski calls the project a “collaborative choreographic experience.” It is part of the college’s Dance and Collaboration class, which focuses on bringing dance opportunities to new places, and was the idea of adjunct dance professor Mariko Yamada, who is a Brasser parent and substitute teacher at the school. After subbing for Dunn, Yamada was impressed with the way the music teacher incorporated movement into her lessons. Wanting to help expand on that, Yamada reached out to Dunn about a possible collaboration involving her Nazareth dance students.
“Music can be very abstract, especially with our younger kids,” explained Dunn. “So, the way I teach music is just very movement heavy because it really emphasizes those abstract concepts and makes them a little bit more tactile to kids.”
After guiding Brasser students through the process, the Nazareth students will choreograph a dance of their own. Instead of writing a paper, they will reflect on the experience through movement, each creating a solo that they will arrange into one piece.
“I think our hope is that everybody recognizes that dance is for everyone,” said Thomashefski. “It's not something that you need to take special classes outside of school. We all have bodies, and we all can move them, and we all can make dances.”