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US program in Shanghai trains kids to dance


06-27-2014 00:37 BJT

After three years of training from American dancers, a group of Shanghai students have put on a dance performance for their teachers and parents on Wednesday afternoon. The event is part of a three-year pilot program set up by the US National Dance Institute, to teach dancing skills to kids.

More than 600 children from 15 schools in Minhang District took part in the two hour long performance in the afternoon. Most of the dances they performed were freestyle or hip-hop.

The program was set up by the US National Dance Institute, a non-profit organization that introduces children to the arts. Members of the institute trained more than 50 Chinese teachers and helped them teach more than 3,000 children how to dance, communicate with an audience and put their personalities into a performance. After three years' of training, many of the young dancers surprised their foreign teachers and peers.

"Between the first day we meet the children, and the day the performance happens, you see an amazing trajectory going from maybe a little reserved, maybe a little unsure, fearful, a lot of times. I'm a very big energy, so sometimes when I say, smile. They're... but then by maybe day 3, they start to open up a little bit, and you see them really bloom, like a flower, and coming into really growing in self-confidence, and expressing themselves in a fuller way," said Kay Gayner, director of China Project, US National Dance Institute.

"The Chinese dancers are a lot more polite, and focused than the American ones. They've been a lot of fun to work with. You know the kind of chemistry that comes with dance between two people as they dance together is fascinating and amazing," said Emmet Smith, student of US National Dance Institute.

Though the pilot program ends this year, the Institute says it plans to build a training center in Minhang District, and wants to work with children all over China, including migrants and the handicapped.

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