Grade 5 and STREB
Grade 5 students partnered with the STREB Extreme Action Company in an exclusive experience this school year that challenged their limits and defied gravity. In the Fall, 5TA visited SLAM, STREB's facility in Williamsburg. There they got a taste of the popACTION technique, had a blast on the equipment (including the trampoline and trapeze) and were challenged to take risks and build strength. These students were then primed for a visit from STREB's instructors at Poly's dance studio. After new crash mats arrived in December, 5TA and 5SF spent two hours each honing their technique and enjoying moments of flight. 5SF visited the SLAM facility after our return from Winter Break and had a blast bouncing, flying and going wild. These videos commemorate their experiences. Song selections are representative of the pieces students were primed to perform in the May, Grade 5 and 6 Dance Celebration that unfortunately was canceled because of the school closure.
5SF Dance and STREB
5TA Dance and STREB
After COVID-19 forced our Poly doors to close, we were unsure of how to bring the STREB partnership to the remaining 5th grade homeroom, 5MR. Through continuous work and communication, we were so pleased to announce in mid-April our continuing partnership with STREB through Zoom classes. Poly's Dance Department was thrilled to be spearheading STREB's first virtual partnership and we were eager for 5MR to engage in this incredible opportunity. During the week of May 4 and 11, students had the amazing opportunity to take class and work with Jackie, a STREB company member, to learn the popACTION technique, modified for small living spaces.
It is our hope to invite all rising 6th grade students and families to the SLAM facility in the fall so that all students, especially the ones who have not had the chance to visit SLAM because of COVID-19, have this defining experience. Video password is: PPStreb2020
Grade 6 Dance
Grade 6 students visited the Chen Dance Center in Chinatown and the MET Museum in the Upper East Side on two consecutive Wednesdays in January to support and facilitate their research and studies for the Ancient Civilizations Project and Festival. At Chen, students first engaged in and watched a dance performance, choreographed by Mr. H.T. Chen titled, Eight Strokes & the Moving Word. The performance blended dance, literacy, history and traditional arts in an educational format that both encouraged learning and left the students captivated. After the performance, students participated in an interactive workshop where they were able to receive hands-on training to learn traditional Chinese Ribbon Dancing. To end the workshop, students were split into small groups and charged with creating their own movement studies to encourage a deeper understanding of the material through creative application. This video commemorates their experience, their final creations and the songs to which they would have performed during the Ancient Civilizations Festival in March and the Grade 5 and 6 Dance Celebration in May.
Sadly, just a day after our visit, Chen Dance Center was engulfed in a 5-alarm fire. Please consider supporting Chen Dance Center in their efforts to rebuild: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/chendancecenter.
Grade 7 Dance
Seventh Grade Dance studies the roots and branches of jazz dance technique and uncovers the skeletal foundations of anatomy and kinesiology. Students in Semester Two worked incredibly hard from January until March learning the skeletal system and delving into the evolution of jazz dance, beginning with African American vernacular dance. When COVID-19 closed Poly's physical campus and we moved completely virtual, our studies shifted to more codified jazz techniques. We continued to research jazz dance founders, creators and choreographers and studied pieces that honored the roots of jazz. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement across the nation, students felt called to explore art creations that challenge audiences, speak to different lived experiences and send powerful messages. Our final video showcases their research into all art forms that call for change and into body positionings that have taken on meaning throughout the Black Lives Matter protests.
Grade 8 Dance
Eighth Grade Dance strives to connect and prepare young dance artists to the larger dance community through guest artists. Students begin the semester studying a variety of dance genres, the history of each and become familiar with the teaching facilities and dance companies that continue the work for each genre. As the semester progresses, students gain an appreciation for different techniques and artists, become more informed about lineage and creation and grow into more informed audience members. The semester concludes with a 10-day residency lead by a current dance artist or company where students learn and create repertory in preparation for the Spring Dance Concert.
This year Semester One Dancers studied with Sophia Marrapodi-Bove, a New York based performer and educator who works in the Commercial Dance sector. Sophia taught the students a 3-part dance that embodied the foundations of Hip-Hop, honed in on their musicality and gave them the opportunity for self-expression. Because COVID-19 canceled our Spring Dance Concert, this video serves as a celebration of the work and rehearsal the Semester One students engaged in to perform "Real, Finesse."
Semester Two Dancers studied with Will Tomaskovic, a dancer from the New Jersey based Dance Company, 10 Hairy Legs. Will encouraged student creation and growth through prompts, small phrases and crafted improvisation. Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced Poly's doors to close before our residency was complete. Luckily, students were still able to connect with Will through Zoom classes where a new piece, born out of the foundation set in the studio, was created and produced through video. This video serves as Poly Dance Department's first choreographed dance piece by video.
8th Grade - Sophia
8th Grade Spring Final
10 Hairy Legs Partnership
Poly’s partnership with 10 Hairy Legs also allowed us to partner with our own Diversity, Equity and Social Justice leader, Motoko Maegawa, to open up important conversations about Gender Identity with our Middle School. Students watched the following video on Community and Diversity Day before watching an original work by choreographer David Parker. Both videos prepared the Middle School student body for conversations about gender and lived experiences with the 10 Hairy Legs Company Members. Video password is: PPCDD
Each year two Dance Clubs are offered to students who are seeking additional Poly dance opportunities in the Middle School: Young Dancers for Grades 5 and 6 and Tower Dancers for Grades 7 and 8. Young Dancers serves to enhance the Poly dance classes held during the day by focusing on the development of dance technique and creation. Tower Dancers continues the Poly dance students' studies and provides opportunities to learn from and with their peers through choreographic direction.
This year, after much advocating from one 7th grader, a new club was formed: MS Dance Team for grades 5 through 7. Under the direction of Kyra Neamonitakis, students met weekly to learn and perfect choreography. Each meeting was planned, created and led by Kyra and strove to include and challenge each member through shared movement. After Poly closed in March for COVID-19, schedule shifts needed to be made to transition to Virtual Poly. Kyra continued to advocate for MS Dance Team and found a new time for the club to meet weekly over Zoom so that they could continue their work. This video showcases the dance pieces from each Middle School Club that were primed to perform in April plus the additional work and virtual meetings of MS Dance Team.