This month’s issue of Inside UP brings you the story of a student who watched a school performance by Savion Glover and was inspired to begin creating his own dances.

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Inspiration to Dance

Dylan is a creative and curious 5th grader at Riley Elementary in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood. Dylan takes part in Functional Academics, which is for students with learning and behavioral special needs.

His dance teacher, Tina Misaka, is a Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program specialist, and brought her students to an exciting UtahPresents engagement performance with the world-renowned tap dancer and choreographer, Savion Glover in December 2015. The tap legend was visiting Salt Lake in the lead up to premiering new choreography for the Broadway adaptation of Shuffle Along, which just received several Tony Award nominations.

SavionatGlendale2At the lecture/demonstration, Savion showcased his incredible talent as a dancer and even brought students on stage to work with them directly – a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of the thrilled children.

Savion involved students who had taken tap classes, and he showed them how he used his skill to not only move, but to make music with his tap – demonstrating that it’s as much an instrument as a dance style. The audience was electrified in the at-capacity auditorium of Glendale Elementary. The students, from one of Salt Lake City’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods, were captivated hearing this engaging artist and person of color. Savion talked to them candidly about the challenges he has faced in life, and the inspiration it provided him.

Savion stressed that artists don’t always need to stay in the lines. The education system is often about normalizing and staying in the lines, but he imparted to the students that they could do more than just make a 4 beat with their feet – they can create anything. Dylan’s experience with the Tony Award-winner proved eye-opening and inspirational. In the classes following the special performance, Dylan was moved to create and practice not one, but two tap dances for Savion, which Ms. Misaka recorded.
Ms. Misaka works with the Functional Academic students in a self-contained dance class each week, allowing her to move at the students’ pace and provide the attention needed to have the greatest impact on the students.

Because of the work of dedicated teachers like Ms. Misaka and the community outreach of organizations like UtahPresents, children across Utah have the opportunity to experience art in an up-close, hands-on way, which has a profound impact on current and future academic success. To learn more or get involved with upcoming engagement activities, visit the community page on our website.