New Brunswick schools renew partnership with dance company to enhance arts education

The New Brunswick School Board approved a resolution at its November meeting renewing residencies and master classes by the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company in four city schools for the upcoming school year.

The company, based in Union and composed of 10 contemporary dancers, will provide residencies to the Redshaw, Livingston, and Paul Robeson schools, as well as 12 master classes to New Brunswick Middle School.

It will also provide a new after school 10-week residency for Gifted and Talented students from across the district, which will include an audition process and final performance.

According to the resolution, the partnership is part of the district’s broader focus on providing a diverse arts education.

“The New Brunswick Board of Education is committed to providing a comprehensive education in fine, visual and performing arts, including dance experiences,” reads the resolution.

The partnership between New Brunswick schools and the dance company has existed since 2002. According to Board of Education President Patricia Sadowski, working with the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company is a point of pride for the district.

“This is a great program for our students,” Sadowski said. “Our dance program is outstanding.”

As per the resolution, the services provided by the company will cost the district no more than $27,080.

Anna Shaffner, the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company’s communication and development manager, said she believes that its dance curriculum, which serves students from third to eighth grade, is an asset to the district.

“We have a strong commitment to bringing dance to the New Brunswick community at all age levels, with the hope that students and members of the community will develop an understanding and appreciation of the arts,” Shaffner said.

Shaffner says that the elementary school dance programs are especially connected to the community because each week-long residency culminates in two public performances, narrated in both English and Spanish, that allow selected students to perform with Carolyn Dorfman dancers.

“One performance is during the day for their peers, teachers and staff, and the second is held in the evening free of charge for their parents and the community,” Shaffner said. “The students have a chance to participate in a “professional” dance show, and the community at large has access to a free arts performance.”

Community interest in school dance programs is what has motivated the partnership for so many years, Shaffner says.

“Many of the classroom and gym teachers participate in our classes, and come to the evening performances,” Shaffner said. “Collaborative learning is very important to us, and the New Brunswick School District is a wonderful partner.”

Shaffner and the rest of the company hope to further expand their involvement in the New Brunswick school district by restarting a program at the high school, where they last taught master classes in 2011.

“We admire New Brunswick’s commitment to the arts, and to the community,” Shaffner said.