Brighton Ballet Theater (BBT) has been working with students in public schools for more than 10 years, teaching them ballet, character and contemporary dance. I.S. 228 is just one of the public schools where Brighton Ballet Theatre has a dance residency program.

Intermediate School 228 David A. Boody has residency program with BBT already for the second year now, under my direction, Ballet Teacher and Choreographer and with support of the executive director of BBT Irina Roizin. We just had three recital shows which were called “A Dancer’s Life” on May 28-30th under the direction of Jan Ford, teacher of IS 228, and me, Irina Lapteva. Students of the 6th, 7th and 8th Grades Dance Magnet showed all the steps of dancer’s life by analogy with natural growth, starting from nature and birth, through their everyday life to become a dancer and finally performing at one big show in order to make other people happy.

During this year students of IS228 learned ballet and jazz techniques, and achieved performing experience on professional stages. The 8th Grade Dance Magnet performed at Kingsborough Community College and at Long Island High School at 12th Annual Student Dance Festival.  After practicing daily ballet barre exercises many of Dance Magnet students were able to try them in Dance Auditions for admission to top NYC high schools. Plus it is very important not only to motivate them to learn and dance, but also to teach them how to learn and do stretching and dance at home, for instance, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable.

Furthermore, at I.S 228 students during dance classes learn to love art and appreciate other art forms. They go to field trips to see professional ballet performances in Lincoln Center and every BBT show cases, they help to choose and create costumes and even draw flyers and posters for recital performances. I teach my students how to fight their fears, for example, some children are afraid to perform in front of a large public, and how to control their emotions using classical music.

But probably the most important achievement is that students of I.S 228 Dance Magnet under the direction of Jan Ford and me helped their community by dancing for causes, such as our initiative to help children with cancer.

This is an initiative that came unexpectedly from the students, during one of our dance classes, they just wanted to bring joy to other children through their dance. And Ms. Ford  with me helped them to make it possible. “The students first twisted and shouted for the young convalescents during a Brighton Ballet Theater recital at Kingsborough Community College, but when they found out the kids were actually too under-the-weather to come to the show, Boody students took their act bed-side and visited kids in the hospital,” – wrote Brooklyn Daily.  As a result of this work students of Dance Magnet performed at Maimonides Cancer Center for young patience of oncology department and gave them gifts which students share with children who fight with cancer. We made a short documentary film about this initiative which was awarded a Silver Level – Honorable Mention in the Speak Truth To Power competition. “They were really excited to work on that film and give back to community,” said Ms. Ford in an interview to Home Reporter News. We were the only Middle School from NYC that got this recognition.

We gave six performances this year, and each of them was a great success for what I am very thankful to my young students, for their will and perseverance. I am sending a fond farewell the former eight graders who have graduated from the middle school and are now heading for higher education, and I look further to doing more great things with the new classes beginning this fall.

Irina Lapteva, Brooklyn, June 2014