“It’s a passion, a love for the art of dance and theatre as well as an escape,” said dance instructor Mike Jones. “We’re going through some turbulent times right now and just to keep our young people interested and motivated to want to come to school and be in school.”
Jones is a professional choreographer and dance director based in Chicago. He works with the Professional Theatre and Dance Youth Academy there, as well as running his own dance business.
Jones has been in a residency at DaVinci Academy for nearly three months. It allows any teacher to sign up their class for a time slot. Fifth grade teacher Vanessa Arboleda says it’s the highlight of the week. She says what students learn, goes beyond the stage.
“I think the ability to focus, to remember dance steps, to be able to calm their bodies enough to continue with the dance and work as a group as a whole,” said Arboleda. “We are all one, we are in unison.”
Teachers who also take part, get an opportunity to bond with their class.
“They tried to kick me off stage one day, but I stayed,” laughed Arboleda. She says Jones is good at convincing even the most reluctant students to try it out. But some students say it could even be a profession later in life.
“This for me is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for, for a really long time and I’m really glad I was able to get this at my school,” said Echo Nelson, an 8th grade student.
Another student compared it to learning math. It’s not too hard if you take it one step at a time.
“It’s super easy to figure it out after you get all the hard moves down and you just get better and better,” said 6th grader Wyatt Brown.
Even in a short period of time, Jones sees growth in performance skills, and more.
“This will help them with all aspects of life and help them to achieve. It’s team building, it’s getting confidence, it’s learning how to work together,” said Jones.
Jones says he’s taught about one thousand students at DaVinci from kindergarten through the 8th grade. The school is holding a dance performance at 6:00 pm on February 10.