By Colby Damon, BalletX dancer
About a month ago, the dancers at BalletX were afforded an opportunity to learn the pedagogical practices forged and perpetuated by the National Dance Institute in New York City. I had heard of the program for a while, and knew much of its founder Jacques d’Amboise, but otherwise had little expectations for what would happen. I have taught in public schools before in various capacities, in both California and New York City, so I figured this would basically be a review of some methods I had already employed in my previous engagements.
Dance eXchange has been so much more effective and nurturing than I could have imagined. Although I have had difficulty in the past seeing real results in public school dance classes outside of technical achievement, the NDI classes really afford an opportunity for accomplishment and confidence for kids who have a hard time finding it elsewhere. By demanding nothing but the best from every small step, in a fun atmosphere, and rewarding accomplishment and leadership, these dance classes really teach kids more about how to learn effectively, and the benefits of focus and perseverance. Classroom teachers at Andrew Jackson School where Dance eXchange is taking place have already expounded about how much more confidence and concentration certain students have shown since joining the classes. Bravo to the amazing teachers and administrators of NDI for their incredible pedagogy which was the inspiration and foundation of Dance eXchange. I am very happy to have been exposed to their style of teaching dance, and am looking forward to utilizing their unique pedagogy in future Dance eXchange classes.
Colby with Andrew Jackson Elementary students in South Philadelphia.
Colby Damon has been dancing with BalletX since 2008 and have been featured in over 15 world premieres. Colby received his training at the Richmond Ballet, the Boston Ballet, and the Virginia School of the Arts. He has danced professionally with Sacramento Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Northwest Dance Project, Avi Scher and Dancers, and Thang Dao Dance Company, among others. Colby is a student of Chinese language, energy work and martial arts, and is pursuing his BA in Dance through the New York LEAP program.
Dance eXchange has been made possible by support from the 2013 Knight Arts Challenge, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and PECO, lead corporate sponsor, as well as by additional grants from the Leo Model Foundation, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Zeldin Family Foundation, and the Virginia & Harvey Kimmel Arts Education Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. Special thanks to University of the Arts, performance partner.