Dance Español grant awarded

June 19, 2013

A summer camp similar to Minds in Motion — Dance Español — is coming soon through a collaboration between Piedmont Arts, Southwest Virginia Ballet and The Harvest Foundation.

Pedro Szalay, artistic director of the Southwest Virginia Ballet, will conduct the free camp July 16-18 and July 23-25 at Albert Harris Elementary School for about 70 rising fifth- through eighth-graders from the area, said Heidi Pinkston, education coordinator for Piedmont Arts.

Szalay was the instructor with Minds in Motion in Martinsville for several years when he was employed by the Richmond Ballet, Pinkston said.

Piedmont Arts announced in April that the Richmond Ballet was discontinuing, after 13 years, Minds in Motion locally due to budgetary and staffing constraints of the ballet. The program taught discipline, dedication and self-awareness to fourth-graders through dance and incorporated information about a theme.

Piedmont Arts subsequently reached out to the Southwest Virginia Ballet to offer the two-week camp for students who were invited to audition for Minds in Motion’s advanced performance teams XL and XXL, according to Pinkston and according to comments Kathy Rogers, executive director of Piedmont Arts, made in a news release.

“We would not be able to provide this program (Dance Espanol) to these students without the support of The Harvest Foundation,” Rogers stated in the release from Harvest.

The release stated that the foundation has approved a $1,000 grant to Piedmont Arts to support Dance Español, which will incorporate Spanish language through dance movements. The grant will fund 34 percent of the cost to bring Szalay to Martinsville to conduct the camp, the release states.

“It is a pleasure to partner with Piedmont Arts on a project that will have such a positive impact on our youth,” Harvest Foundation President Allyson Rothrock stated in the release. “This camp will provide a unique enrichment opportunity for students by actively engaging them in the Latino culture and language as they interact with children from different backgrounds.”

Pinkston said Szalay created Dance Español for Roanoke City Schools. It was offered this past school year and will be conducted in the upcoming school year, she said, adding, “It was very successful.”

Szalay could not be reached Tuesday.

According to Roanoke City Schools’ website and Nancy Kelderhouse, the executive director of the Southwest Virginia Ballet, Szalay taught Dance Español for students from four elementary schools, and they came together for a final performance at William Fleming High School.

Kelderhouse praised Szalay’s “commitment to youth and extending the arts, combining movement, music, foreign language and live accompaniment.”

At Albert Harris, Pinkston said, Szalay will conduct the camp and choreograph, and there will be a pianist accompanying the group. Students from Albert Harris, Patrick Henry, Sanville and Mount Olivet elementary schools; Martinsville, Fieldale-Collinsville and Laurel Park middle schools; and Carlisle School will participate, she said.

The camp will be from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays July 16-18 and July 23-25. It will culminate with a showcase/performance at noon July 25, also at Albert Harris.

Pinkston said Piedmont Arts would like to expand Dance Español to a year-long residency in the future, but that is not possible in the upcoming school year due to staffing constraints with the Southwest Virginia Ballet. The ballet “understands our intent,” she said.

Kelderhouse said she believes Szalay and the Southwest Virginia Ballet would like to see Dance Español expanded, but an additional instructor would be needed.

“It’s not a real expensive program to put on, but affordability is an issue,” she said. It’s not a program the ballet makes a profit on, but the ballet does need to cover its costs, she said.

Szalay is excited about coming to Martinsville for the camp, she said. “He loved the children in the Martinsville area.”


Select News Year: