Where Dance Meets Education: Education and Community Engagement Teacher Receives Exciting New Training

Houston Ballet Education and Community Engagement is committed to introducing children, particularly those in under-served and at-risk populations, to the beauty and grace of life through dance.  Last year they reached over 39,000 students through various programming.  One of Houston Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement teachers, Ellie Blanchat recently returned from New York City where she attended the National Dance Institute (NDI) Teaching Artists Training.

ECE teacher Ellie Blanchat with master teachers (L to R) Kelly Buwanda, Ellie Blanchat, Emily Meisner and Kay Gayner at the National Dance Institute Teacher Training in NYC.
Ellie Blanchat with master teachers (L to R) Kelly Buwanda, Ellie Blanchat, Emily Meisner and Kay Gayner at the National Dance Institute Teacher Training.

The training is a two week-long workshop that gives participants hands on experience working directly with children. The workshop is led by renowned National Dance Institute instructors and is designed to deepen each participant’s understanding of the power of the arts in education.

This year, Ms. Blanchat teaches Houston Ballet After School Program (HBASP) classes and has shared some of her experiences from the training.

Describe your overall experience at the training program this year.

In the mornings we would work with kids in the NDI teaching pedagogy and choreography, and in the afternoons we spent time workshopping with the NDI Master Teachers. Each day we were given a task to work on with the kids, so that we could get some real time teaching experience using the NDI techniques. We spent a lot of time working on techniques to make classes flow easily, handle discipline in a positive way, and create interesting choreography. I learned so many valuable teaching tools, and enjoyed watching the children grow throughout the 2 weeks I was in New York.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned at the training?

The most valuable lesson I learned was how to create moments of accomplishment for each student in every class. At the end of an NDI class every student should feel successful. The teacher must create an atmosphere of positivity that encourages the dancers, and also expect excellence from each student. The key is really watching each child individually and finding out what success looks like for every one of them.

Ellie Blanchat teaching during this summer's , Jump, Jive, Move and Groove collaboration.
Ellie Blanchat teaching during Education and Community Engagement’s Jump, Jive, Move and Groove collaboration. Photo by Dancy Lukeman.

How will the training you received apply or be helpful when teaching Education and Community Engagement programs this year?

The HBASP program is based on the NDI pedagogy and techniques. Everything I learned in New York will directly apply with this ECE program; from the flow of the class and dance technique, to the choreography and final performance.

Ms. Blanchat is eager to put her new training to use as many of Houston Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement 2015-16 season programs began last week including the After School Program.

For more information on all of Education and Community Engagement’s programming visit:

https://www.houstonballet.org/Education-Community-Engagement/About-Us/.  

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