On February 8th, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) unveiled “Too Darn Hot,” a video featuring performances by 104 fourth grade students who took part in SPAC’s public-school dance residency.
The popular in-school dance residency has continued this school year despite the pandemic with safe but immersive dance training for students at the Charlton Heights Elementary School and online fourth graders in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district.
Led by SPAC Teaching artists Cristiane Santos, J. Michael Zygo, and Brian Melick as well as Dennis Moench, former Broadway star and Senior Director of Education at SPAC, a total of 104 students (both in person and virtual learners) took part in SPAC’s Dance Residency in October-November 2020.
The students participated in two in-person or virtual classes and continued with a series of video lessons on the SPAC Learning Library to learn Broadway-style choreography to the show tune “Too Darn Hot” from the musical Kiss Me, Kate.
The students then performed their dance by filming individual videos for the SPAC team to combine into the virtual performance that premieres today to celebrate the students’ achievements and share their work with their families, peers, and the community.
This program is a reimagined dance residency – a program that SPAC offers to elementary schools every year. As of last year, there were already eight local schools receiving the 5-10 week in-school dance program with SPAC teaching artists. This spring, SPAC plans to provide this virtual programming to other schools who participated last year to keep dance alive in their classrooms.
“We were concerned that we might see a decline in student engagement in comparison to previous years with this new, primarily virtual format,” says Moench. “But we were pleasantly surprised when we saw all of the students fully commit to the program and give 100% of their energy immediately on day one!”
“The arts are such an important part of the educational process, and it has been such a pleasure to work with the amazing and talented professionals from SPAC to bring dance to our fourth graders at Charlton Heights,” says Tim Sinnenberg, principal at Charlton Heights Elementary. “Our students have loved their experience, and practiced with all of their hearts for the recording of their moves.”
Fourth grader Kadynce Dahl summed up the experience this way, “I have a lot of energy and I like horsing around so the dance residency was so awesome because I got to use my energy!”
SPAC education partner Stewart’s Shops will be showing the video in its stores throughout Saratoga County from February 8-22.