Art Sparks is so much more than a dance or arts program. The multifaceted nonprofit helps students with STEM learning, literature, wellness and science, but admittedly one of the most engaging programs it offers is the energetic Wiggle Jig, a dance/fitness program that employs teaching artists, a live musician in the classroom and lots of interaction.
The instructor initiates a lively call and response with students not unlike a fun boot camp.
“We certainly want to serve students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience high quality dance programming and might not have the opportunity to experience the arts in general,” says Kara Stewart, founder and co-artistic director of Art Sparks.
The program is a collaboration among Art Sparks, Ballet Met and and The Center for Arts Inspired Learning. According to Art Sparks, the program helps young people develop discipline and self esteem, and Stewart has seen this curriculum’s long-term effect on past students who go on to succeed in the performing arts.
She adds: “We know that dance isn’t really prevalent in the public schools. They’re getting physical activity and we work really well with the gym, music and arts teachers because there’s so much crossover there.”
Like a number of nonprofit arts programs in the community, Art Sparks helps supplement the waning financial support for arts programming in public schools, with residencies in a number of inner-city classrooms.
“Grant funding has been instrumental in helping us achieve our goals,” Stewart adds. “Typically, the schools that we are asked to serve do not have the funds to bring extra arts programming into the buildings, so we rely on grant funding to make that happen.”
The team comprises more than just an instructor. “We always travel with a team (teacher, co-teacher and musician), and we believe live music is essential,” she adds. On a recent visit, the keyboard player’s physicality and workout was nearly to the level of the instructors.
And Art Sparks isn’t just about the arts. “We have a really popular geometry program, and it’s really malleable depending on the grade,” Stewart adds. “Obviously we’re talking about shapes. Dance is a wonderful program for exploring shapes,” and it helps with third-grade state testing requirements, along with offering dance and fitness programming.
To support this group and get more info, visit www.artsparks.com.