Adam Holms is the director of ballet education of the Performing Arts Center of Connecticut. For the past three years, he’s traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador to bring dance education to students, ages 6–18. Dance Teacher asked him to blog about his experiences on this summer’s trip.
Three years ago while teaching a training seminar for Dance Educators of America, I befriended two Ecuadorian women: Ana Jarrin and Gigi Leone. They are the co-founders and directors of a private dance school in Guayaquil, Centro Ludico Artistico Pirouette (CLAP). The three of us joined forces to forge the foundation of an international teaching partnership. Through CLAP, we’ve established dance residencies in public schools, encouraging children of all experiences and technical abilities to feel a sense of success and purpose throughout their lives.
My mission is simple: To bridge cultural differences through the universal understanding of movement and artistic expression; to encourage the exchange of teaching methodologies and pedagogical practices; and to share the passion for self-expression with children who would normally never have the opportunity to realize their own physical potential and artistic voice.
This summer, my work in Guayaquil will be in three distinct areas:
1. Conservatory based instruction at CLAP. I’ll be setting the Nutcracker on students, ages 6–18. In addition to teaching students, part of my work here will be training dance teachers in Ecuador to run and create arts outreach programs. This partnership also includes curriculum design and implementation, helping teachers design and structure their own classes and set choreography.
2. Outreach and community based instruction through the implementation of a dance residency within the Los Lojas Community School, focusing on children in rural, impoverished communities in grades 3, 4 and 5.
3. Higher education based instruction through my work as a visiting professor at the Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo. At the University, I will be teaching choreography classes and workshops for pedagogy and methodology.
I know this experience will reflect those of past teaching adventures (at home or abroad), but my lesson plans and ideas will have to be altered, my classroom and studio management skills will be tested, and things will undoubtedly be lost through translation. Did I mention I don’t speak Spanish? But all the while, I’ll be reminded of the brilliance that is found within children who are encouraged, mentored, and supported to dance.
My departure date: July 31. Ecuador here I come!
Adam Holms M.A. is director of ballet education for The Performing Arts Center of Connecticut and is a graduate of the NYU/ABT Masters program in ballet pedagogy and teaching dance in the professions. He holds a B.S in secondary education concentrating in American history as well as a degree in ballet performance from Butler University. In addition to his work at PACC, Holms works for ABT’s outreach programs in NYC public schools and is on the faculty of Dance Educators of America’s annual teaching seminar.