Deborah Elias | Dance

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Deborah Elias | Dance

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Playful...Inclusive...Multicultural
Exploring culture, language, and diversity


I am passionate about working with kids, about education, and about the way flamenco can connect them. Flamenco is expressive, energetic and playful; rhythmic and percussive; inclusive, cooperative, and multicultural; yet simple enough for individual expression and improvisation. It is ideal for teaching not just the art form, but themes related to culture, language, cultural diversity, and understanding.

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In my work with students, they gain not only knowledge and appreciation of the flamenco art form but so much more. They inspire and are inspired; they teach and are taught; they challenge and are challenged. My philosophy is to encourage students to celebrate the uniqueness among individuals, risk the unknown through improvisation, and open themselves to unfamiliar and diverse art forms and peoples.

Overall students gain a tremendous sense of enjoyment, accomplishment, and success - and a positive arts experience that will leave them more open to diverse arts experiences and cultures in the future.

I have been teaching for over 15 years through COMPAS, the Minnesota State Arts Board Roster of Teaching Artists, the Target Distance Learning Program of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, and the former St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's Connect Cultural Partners Program. I am also an active performer with awards from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and The Jerome Foundation.

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs

Residency

Connecting through Flamenco Dance, Music, & Culture

Every residency is unique. My goal is to collaborate with teachers and others who work with the arts learners most to identify the focus and goals for our residency together. Past themes have included Spanish language skills, risk-taking for language learning, math (products and factors), IB learner profile, and cultural tradition. Themes I am particularly interested in right now include literacy, ELL and new immigrants, and self-control/behavior management. Every day in our residency, arts learners will dance, sing, clap, and stomp – learning flamenco movements and song, joining in a rhythm circle that utilizes call-response and improvisation, and using it all to create a unique group dance. All learners can be good at flamenco!

 

Workshops

Connecting through Flamenco Dance, Music, and Culture

In these short, energetic sessions, I lead arts learners through a fun, flamenco-rock warmup, and teach them basic movements that we put together into an impromptu dance. We also practice flamenco "chants," and join in a rhythm circle for clapping and stomping, all while sharing information about the cultural background of the art form. Learners will see, hear, and do beautiful new things, and leave inspired and joyful!

 

Let's Dance Flamenco with Lola!
An Interactive Dance and Literacy Experience

The book “Lola’s Fandango” dances to life as I take children on an imaginary trip to Spain where they meet Lola, a young girl who discovers her own talent and duende, or spirit, through secret flamenco lessons from her father. As I read the story aloud, I pause in key moments to invite children to “put themselves in Lola’s shoes” and try the same flamenco dance movements Lola is learning in the book such that their experience parallels hers. Children are drawn into the story, and have plenty of opportunity to move! With timing and pace perfect for younger children, I will lead the children through rhythmic clapping, footwork, and hand and arm movements, putting it all together into a dance they “perform” at the end, just like Lola.

Duration: 50 minutes (can be adapted to 45-60 minutes).
Ideally for students up to age 10.