This January, students at our school had the unique opportunity to experience a live performance by PUSH Physical Theatre and then participate in dance workshops with PUSH’s Artistic Director Darren Stevenson. The award-winning theatre company, based in Rochester N.Y., came to the school’s C-C PAC stage with the message of “You Can Do Anything,” using physical storytelling, expressive movement and acrobatics to make that point for student dancers and nondancers alike.
The performance was attended by all of our dance students, but was open to those with other interests as well. Business teacher and IB Coordinator Kelley Fahy felt it was beneficial for students in her Career Management class, as it hit on concepts they are currently studying. “Synergy, taking responsibility and getting out of your comfort zone, are all habits of highly effective teens,” she said. “The kids appreciated the look at a different career option and the process the dancers took to get to where they are now.” Physical education teacher Paul Glor felt that it was “a nice chance for students to see fitness components, like muscle strength, endurance and flexibility, in action. PUSH demonstrated that if something is important to you, go after it with passion.”
Dance instructor Janelle Hernandez, who helped arrange the visit, opened her studio to Stevenson for a series of special workshops. He introduced her dancers to exercises that encouraged them to improvise using their own unique life experiences, and to explore the mechanics and emotional power of movement. They responded with enthusiasm.
Student Daniela Miner said, “ I really liked the PUSH movement class. It made me move in different ways and put me outside of my comfort zone. Their performance was really inspiring.”
“It was great learning experience,” said dancer Grace Hunt. “I loved learning new ways to express emotions through my movement and choreography.” Student Erin Kuhn said, “I loved his encouraging message and being exposed to a different kind of dance.”
PUSH’s Stevenson said that he especially enjoys working with young people. He credits his own love for dance and physical theatre to artists who visited his school when he was growing up. Without that opportunity and encouragement, he said, his life might be very different now.
“I am glad that my dance students were able to have this unique experience that took them out of their comfort zone — in a great way!” said Hernandez. “I am looking forward to working with Darren and PUSH again in the future.”
Feature photo: PUSH’s Darren Stevenson led a series of workshops during the week for all of the school’s dancers, from beginners to advanced levels.
This page: PUSH Artistic Director Darren Stevenson with Churchville-Chili Dance Excel students.