Festival Ballet Albuquerque (FBA) is dedicated to creating excellence in dance training and productions by maintaining professional standards that provide the opportunity for dancers to develop to their highest potentials, including pursuing a career in dance.  FBA is supported by dancers of all ages who share the passion for dance and their desire to share the wealth and breadth of their knowledge with the community.  FBA provides community outreach programs throughout the region to the young and old through special events specifically geared to their target audiences which include schools, senior centers, retirement homes, hospital wards and a multitude of public events with a goal to entertain as well as to educate.

History of Dance and Discovery Workshops

The History of Dance and Discovery Workshops (HDDW) were created by Patricia Dickinson Wells and have been offered to Albuquerque schools for 20 years.  HDDW is an educational touring program designed to create a greater awareness of dance while fostering a strong sense of community.  During the fully costumed, on-site performances, students learn the history of dance, experience movement as a form of communication and have an opportunity to express themselves and their emotions through their own movements.

FBA works with Sara Hutchinson, APS Dance Resource Teacher, to identify schools for presentations with emphasis on Title I and artistically underserved schools and those with students from lower income families.  Students from all cultural, ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as those with different skills and developmental levels participate in this program.

The program was expanded in the UETF 2012-2013 cycle to include senior centers utilizing an award winning 14 member mature adult ballet troupe that Ms. Dickinson Wells has led for nine years.  All HDDW APS presentations are provided at no charge to the schools or senior centers.  Note:  other public schools and private schools may also contact FBA for presentations.

The 2014-2015 HDDW budget anticipates the program to be delivered to 6,000 students at twelve elementary and three middle schools within the APS district as well as three senior centers. School presentations will include at least six to eight professional dancers and four choreographers and allow students to participate in dance as an expressive art.

Supplementary materials, including suggested projects for both before and after the presentation, are provided for elementary and middle-school curriculums.  These materials include age-appropriate activities that reinforce other academic areas such as history, physics, mathematics and writing.  The senior center presentations are similarly structured with supplementary material that focuses on dance history, community, movement and health.  For the senior presentations, professional dancers will be joined by a troupe of 55 and older ballet students.

Feedback from the 2012-2013 presentations so far includes a letter from Alvarado Elementary teacher Tina Leyba who wrote, “As a result of the performance, many students expressed an interest in learning more about the various art forms presented.”  Laurie Gonzales, Dolores Gonzales Elementary teacher, wrote, “This presentation is such an asset to our community of public schools as the dancers are providing life experiences for these children that they will, in turn, keep with them for the rest of their lives and hopefully motivate some of them to take on the challenge of hard work to achieve goals in their own lives.”


Appropriateness of the Project to FBA’s Mission

The HDDW program was created by Patricia Dickinson Wells, FBA Artistic Director, and has been presented to Albuquerque elementary and middle school children under her direction for 20 years, previously with Southwest Civic Ballet and other organizations.  FBA was formed in 2009 and received a generous grant from UETF and the Albuquerque Community Foundation to continue the HDDW presentations to APS schools and senior centers.

Beyond education, which is a key component of the FBA mission, HDDW presentations serve to build future audiences.  The presentations provide an opportunity for all participants, especially those who may otherwise not have the ability to attend live professional dance concerts.  The participants will be able to meet and make personal connections with dancers (many are former APS students).  A “pen-pal” relationship is encouraged where students enhance writing skills by sending letters to the dance artists who in return send letters back to the school. The FBA dancers demonstrate the high-caliber of arts available in Albuquerque and foster a greater sense of pride in the community.  In addition, they serve as role models as they interact with the children and reinforce values of hard work, dedication and perseverance to achieve a goal.

This project not only fills a void of dance arts in our children’s lives but it also provides employment for our local artists.  FBA’s dancers reside, work and spend their earnings in the community.  It is essential to provide sufficient employment opportunities in order for our artists to remain in Albuquerque and to continue to give back to the community.  This project will be an investment in Albuquerque and its art community.

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