The performance May 9 by French dance company Compagnie Kafig was the culmination of months of preparation through a curriculum developed by teachers and creative partners, with support from White Bird founders Paul King and Walter Jaffe.
White Bird, a nonprofit founded by Paul King and Walter Jaffe, has been bringing world-class dance performances to PPS students for 12 years.
"It is the goal of White Bird to make stronger curriculum connections for student learning through the performing arts," says Jeffrey Gilpin, the teacher at da Vinci Arts and Faubion PK-8 School who oversaw development of the online curriculum, used by 21 schools this year.
Gilpin, a teacher at da Vinci Arts Middle School and Faubion PK-8 School, created the curriculum with Chisao Hata, Adriene Cruz, S. Renee Mitchell and Timothy Lange.
Street dancing made for the stage
This year's presentation, a U.S. premiere called "Agwa," featured 11 Brazilian dancers whom rtistic Director Mourad Merzouki had seen perform. He recruited them to create a concert hall-quality, choreographed performance based on street dancing. The men danced and performed acrobatics amid dozens clear glasses of water.
In preparation for the performance, PPS students explored such questions as what influenced and inspired Merzouki's artistic choices in creating "Agwa," which combined African music, samba, capoeira, bossa nova, electronic music and hip-hop.
Students' inquiry came to life at the Schnitzer. They clapped, cheered and screamed as they watched the dancers perform such moves as spinning on their heads like tops.
Merzouki introduced himself and the dancers at the end of the performance and let the young men perform free-form break dancing to the further delight of the crowd.
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