Knowledge is power, but not all knowledge makes its way into the education of people across the nation. The arts, specifically dance, get overlooked in educational settings as budgets tighten and people scramble to keep schools functioning.
But art is culture, and culture is identity, politics, lifestyle, community.
I decided to reach out to TMP’s Director of Education and Outreach, Grace Nicklos, to learn more about TMP’s programming and chat about the benefits of having access to dance and creative movement:
You've had a lot of experience teaching. What is your background as an educator?
I received my BFA in dance from Ohio University, and studied dance pedagogy. I’ve taught in dance schools, K-12 schools, early childhood programs, dance intensives, art centers, opera programs, theater programs, and community centers.
Sounds like you’ve done a lot of work with the community, then. What is your favorite thing about bringing dance education to the community?
My favorite thing is seeing the reward dance and art provides to participants. I find every person has a unique experience with movement and how they connect with their body's creativity, watching these unique findings unfold is such a gift.
Everyone moves uniquely?
So, how do you think arts can positively impact a neighborhood or city?
I believe art is a medium that people from all walks of life can connect to. Art provides endless forms of communication, expression, and making. These forms create opportunities for community members to listen, share, create, collaborate, change, grow, pause, shift, and contemplate. Community art programs make for a strong and dynamic community.
That’s good to hear. TMP just recently made a new home in Pilgrim Church. What do you hope to accomplish in the Tremont area specifically?
TMP has been busy building new connections in our new neighborhood. I hope to connect to the community in more ways as we participate in community events, provide community dance education, and host local performances. I look forward to building our education programming in Tremont and growing our name as a local resource for dance education.
As Director of Education and Outreach, you really have a voice in TMP's program and mission. For those who are new to The Movement Project, what is the company's overarching goal with arts education? What do you, and the company, hope to achieve?
The Movement Project aims to provide dance education in many settings throughout the greater Cleveland area. Those settings include programs for K-12 schools, early childhood centers, community programing, art centers, dance schools, universities, and community centers. We also have a large focus on providing dance study on a professional level as well as pre-professional level. We hope to continue as a trusted outlet for community outreach, youth dance study, and professional dance training.
The Movement Project has diverse programming. What are a few of these programs and what has been the response to these programs?
One of The Movement Project's offerings for youth is our creative movement program, which is frequently brought in by schools or early childhood centers. This program is designed to enhance and develop gross and fine motor coordination skills, creative expression and thinking, social interaction, problem solving, cooperative play, rhythm, and rhyming skills.
Sounds fun! I bet the kids love it.
They do! We have had a very positive response from the students, teachers, and administration.
It’s good to get young people moving, especially after sitting in school all day.
Actually, this class has also been used as a replacement to recess or other physical activities, as schools have found the program to offer physical activity that engaged the students’ thinking skills and really challenged their creativity. The program also helps students develop individual confidence as well as success in creating with peers. Students look forward to our school visits and show growth from one visit to the next.
What about programs for trained dancers? You mentioned earlier you provide study for pre-professional and professional dancers.
Yeah, we have our pre-professional and professional summer intensives. These intensive studies are for serious-minded dancers interested in furthering themselves as creative artists and who wish to deepen and grow their technical and performance knowledge. The program is taught by TMP artistic directors, company members, as well as notable guest artists in the dance community. We focus on modern dance technique, ballet, improvisation, composition, and somatic practices. Plus the program includes courses designed to support artists in the current field like resume revamp, website marketing, dance on film, and community action.
Great for building connections, too, I’d imagine.
Absolutely! We’ve had a great experience connecting to professional and pre-professional dancers in the area and we often have dancers participate multiple times. We have seen it grow as a great opportunity for participants to meet other dancers and form collaborations.
Amazing. It’s good to see more options being given to the Cleveland community. But, okay, I have to ask, now that TMP has moved to Tremont, do you have any favorite local places?
Grumpy's Cafe is my favorite spot to enjoy lunch after rehearsal!