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Educator Conversations: Compagnie Käfig

Editor’s note: This post is a part of a series of conversations between educators in the K-12 community. Educators will offer suggestions and answer questions about integrating UMS School Day Performances or the arts into classroom curriculum, as well as share advice on organizing a field trip to UMS. To volunteer to be a Teacher Lobby Moderator e-mail Or, check out other Educator Conversations.

This week’s questions:

  • I want my students to attend an event sponsored by UMS. How can I afford travel expenses?
  • I want my all of my students to attend at UMS performance, how can I afford the cost of so many tickets?
  • Why dance?

dianne-dudleyThis week’s moderator: Dianne Dudley. Dianne is a Physical Educator for the Ann Arbor Public Schools at Carpenter Elementary. She is the director of the Community High School all-city dance company, Dance Body. She enjoys an active lifestyle with her husband and their four children. She is passionate about creating opportunities for all children to be active. She teaches the free parent/child Dancing Babies creative movement classes for the Ann Arbor Public Library and is a volunteer rec. & ed. coach.

Q: I want my students to attend an event sponsored by UMS or another organization. How can I afford travel expenses?

Community High School was awarded a $350 grant from Michigan Youth Arts (MYA). The all-city dance company will reach out to middle school step teams to attend a University of Michigan Freshman Dance Touring Company performance together during Semester 2. This grant provides an opportunity for more than 60 middle school and high school students to experience a collegiate dance program and performance.

The Michigan Youth Arts’ Arts & Culture Trek Grant program offers grants of up to $500 to Michigan K-12 schools for the transportation cost of an arts and culture field trip. Educators can choose from a list of more than 150 arts and cultural institutions that offer educational programming, exhibits and performances outside the classroom, which enhance the arts and humanities curriculum. The list of available online grants and their due dates for submission can be found on the MYA website.

Q: I want all of my students to be able to attend a UMS performance. How can I afford the cost for so many tickets?

The UMS School Day Performances are offered at a discounted rate for K-12 students. At Community High School, we work with our school PTO to purchase tickets for the entire student body to attend performances together. Our staff and our PTO are committed to providing opportunities to support the Common Core Standards. UMS provides materials for each performance to connect the show to our classroom curriculum. Our teachers use the materials to help facilitate meaningful student engagement before, during, and after the performance.

The UMS Youth Education program includes daytime School Day Performances subsidized for schools, and also Teacher Workshops that energize teaching and learning practices, In-School Visits by performing and teaching artists, and Curriculum Resources to help make direct connections between UMS artists and the classroom.

Q: Why Dance?

I want all of my students to be active so that they can appreciate the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. Dancing is good exercise and a fun way to keep fit. In addition to learning new choreography and dance technique, students work hard throughout the semester to increase their cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and flexibility. They learn to set realistic goals and learn how to achieve their personal goals. Dance is a great way to raise endorphin and serotonin levels and reduce cortisol levels naturally. I include creative movement and music to all of the lessons I teach at the elementary level. I believe that dancing is a tool that can be used to help bridge our achievement gap. Students bring their own style of dance and experience to the classroom. This can be influenced by their out-of-school opportunities, family and culture. We value, learn, and appreciate dance through every student.

February 14, the Compagnie Käfig modern dance performance will be an excellent field trip opportunity to witness the breath-taking fitness skill-set required to perform with jaw-dropping artistry. This physically demanding dance performance promises a thrilling combination of hip-hop, capoeira dance styles, samba, and acrobatic skills. I will also encourage my students to join dancers from Compagnie Käfig at a free You Can Dance session for an exploration of the company’s movement style on February 13 at the Ann Arbor YMCA.

Do you have questions or comments for Diane about his approach to this performance or about teaching through performance more broadly? Share your responses or questions in the comments section below.