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Caroline Shriver: Institución Educativa Marina Orth

In August 2018, Caroline traveled to The Institución Educativa Marina Orth in the rural community of Aguas Frías, in the Andes Mountains surrounding Medellín, Colombia. While teaching daily dance classes, she also conducted a research project demonstrating the impact of dance education in an under-resourced community. She investigated how dance can make a positive impact on the confidence, motivation, relationship skills, and leadership skills of young people.


Teaching, Trust, and Facing Fears.

Feliz Dia de Independencia Colombia! As my first week of teaching comes to a close, I am excited be celebrating Colombian Independence Day, as well as a new understanding of the growth that can come from trusting in yourself and facing your fears. In both my high school and elementary/middle school classes I have split the class into four sections, some of which have exceeded my expectations, and some of which have challenged me to find new and interesting ways to captivate a class.

The first section of class begins in a circle in which each student and myself shares their name paired with a simple movement. While students were hesitant and seemingly unwilling at first, both younger and older students have begun to say their names and execute a movement with more confidence and conviction. Following the circle, I teach a warm up and across-the-floor section in which students have learned ballet basics such as first and second position, Horton laterals, Modern triplets, Jazz pas de bourrees, and Hip Hop kick ball changes.

The third and most challenging is the improvisational and movement discovery section. Giving the students prompts such as: move like a certain animal, a certain texture, or certain emotion, I ask the students to free style and explore new ways to move their body. While I know the feeling of wanting to avoid humiliation and look cool in front of your peers, especially in high school, I have struggled to find a way to get the students to take this section of class seriously and explore without feeling fear of judgment.

This experience leads me to ask: How can a young person develop a greater sense of confidence and lead others if they are afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone and being judged? Fear of judgment is something every person faces. Each time I walk into a classroom of mischievous elementary schoolers, or skeptical teenagers, I am overcome with fear that I won’t be liked and I will fail, especially when teaching in Spanish. However, each time someone pushes me, I find that I learned that the students standing in front of me want me to succeed rather than fail. For this reason, I plan to continue to teach this section of class, altering some of the exercises in hopes that students feel more confident and comfortable to participate and investigate movement.

The last section of class, and the students’ favorite section, is learning a dance that they will perform in August. Although I have faced challenges with getting the students to continue dancing when they miss a step, I can see that the students are excited to learn new moves and execute them in a dance.

Each day seems to bring new challenges, but I am so excited to continue to push myself and my students to continue to grow and learn!


One week Away

With my trip to Colombia less than one week away, I’m excited to take this opportunity to share my plans, goals, and fears for my month long dance education program. After working with Juntos for the past year in preparation for my trip, I depart Wednesday July 11th for the Institucion Educativa Marina Orth in the rural community of Aguas Frías, in the Andes Mountains surrounding Medellín, Colombia. At the Institucion Educativa Marina Orth I will be holding two 1.45 hour classes each day that will culminate in a final show in which students will perform various dances for their friends and family. For both the older and younger age group, my goal is to instill a basic understanding of ballet, modern, jazz, and hip hop technique, as well as an understanding of dance and movement as a creative outlet.

I’m excited to announce that I will be traveling to Colombia funded by a Fordham Undergraduate Research Grant. With this research grant, I will be able to pair my dance classes with an investigation into the positive impacts of dance on the confidence, motivation, relationship skills, and leadership skills of young people. I plan to conduct this research using surveys, videos of class, interviews, and participant observation of students, as well as the development of dance teachers’ workshop and leadership program for two to four older students. These students will learn the basic structure of a dance class, assist in teaching younger students and developing the final show, and continue my program after I leave.

While I am nervous to travel to a place Juntos has never been, I am incredibly excited to have this opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture, and use dance as a means of connecting with others. I hope to bring a kind of dance education that is new and interesting to these students. However, I also hope to incorporate the students’ own understanding of dance and movement into the pieces for their final show. In doing so, I am confident that both my own and my students’ understandings of movement, dance, and the diverseness of cultures will grow.