University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)


    School kids in the gym in various positions on the floor, reaching for the sky with one hand

Students at William Penn Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, participating in Side-By-Side. Photo by Tanner Dance Staff.

The goal of the University of Utah's Side-by-Side Dance Training Residency Program (SBS) is twofold: to give elementary school students access to quality instruction in dance and also to train classroom teachers how to better integrate the arts into their classrooms. A project of the university's Tanner Dance Program, SBS began in 1994 at an elementary school in Salt Lake City with 120 students in grades two through four. Over the past 16 years the program has steadily grown; in 2008-2009, 2,722 students and 127 teachers in 117 classrooms at 13 elementary schools throughout Utah participated in the program. For FY 10 Tanner Dance has received an NEA Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth grant of $80,000 to support the project.

The SBS Dance Residency Program provides site-based, weekly, year-long classes at elementary schools. Residencies--which take place during the school day---vary from two to 24 classes per site, depending on the school's capacity to provide a 50 percent funding match. During the SBS residency, students and teachers practice dance skills, create performance works, and assess, both formally and informally, their own skill levels based on the state and national standards in dance. The program's overall philosophy is simple: the intellectual, physical, and social skills taught through dance are fundamental to a child's development.

All SBS teachers are themselves skilled dancers, who not only choreograph and perform, but are trained to bring dance into the classroom. "Our ultimate goals are to allow students to experience dance as an art form, to engage students in the creative process thorough dance, and to make new connections to all areas of curricular and lifetime learning," said Tanner Dance Artistic Director Mary Ann Lee, who oversees SBS. A secondary outcome is creating great dance teachers. "The program strives to give teachers experiences in the arts that allow them to be artists and to have the same experiences that the students have," added Lee.

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