In-School Exploration

Provider: Sarasota Contemporary Dance

Contact: Melissa Coleman Sperber

Starting cost per student: $12

Additional Info: $350 per session: Ex. $1,400 4 day session, $2,800 8 day session (max)

Max. Capacity: 25

Transportation Needed?  No

Who Arranges Transportation?

Is Financial Assistance Offered?  No


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This exploration teaches students to understand and appreciate the mixture of movement and music from the African Diaspora, specifically from Cuba. The exploration is led by two teaching artists (a dancer and drummer) and is most popular during Hispanic heritage month in October or Black History month in February but is available year-round. In this exploration, students will be taught key Spanish words in relation to the dance, rhythms of Afro-Cuban music with the live drummer, and the essence of this particular Cuban dance.

Prior to the exploration, the classroom teacher would be encouraged to work with students using texts and classroom discussions.  Then, students would work with the teaching artists to learn dance(s) and rhythms from the culture being studied and explore them in creative ways.  Further, they could extend research of the subject and write introductions or narrations to the dance(s).

Further Information:

The teaching artist prefers to work with two different classes, in 45-minute sessions, one after the other, each time s/he visits the school.  Each class’s residency can consist of only one lesson that concentrates on process or up to eight lessons to produce a culminating performance.

This arts integration session provides a modality that is capable of engaging every type of learner. “Researchers found that when students received arts-integrated lessons compared to more traditional teaching practices, they improved their ability to assess their learning, and reported that the arts integrated instruction created greater intrinsic motivation [which] turned what students perceived to be barriers into opportunities to be solved, and motivated students to continue learning” (DeMoss, K. & Morris, T. 2002).

Sarasota Contemporary Dance teaching artists have extensive training and experience with arts integration and are able to adapt lessons and methods to meet the needs of each individualized session/school. Moving with music allows students to attach a kinesthetic memory to what they have studied and greatly increases the chance for retention of the information. In this session, students will connect with history, geography, and humanities through dance and music, also creating a foundation for future studies. In addition, all sessions provide a learning experience, which also exercises social skills such as teamwork/partnering, leadership, problem solving, self-confidence, and developing a personal point of view as well as a voice


Students will be pre and post tested on the new vocabulary introduced during the dance lessons. Daily “checks for understanding” will be completed in which students answer questions (all grades) for sticker rewards (elementary grades).  The teacher would be encouraged to have the students write about the experiences, and, if the teacher opts for the extended residency, a student performance of the material learned would be co-created by the students and the Sarasota Contemporary Dance teaching artists. This would be a culminating event to which the teacher could invite administrators and other classes and students could invite their families and friends.



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