Educare Chicago children express themselves through dance

How can young children learn about music, patterns, language and culture at the same time, all while having a blast? With dance!

Preschoolers at Educare Chicago eagerly showed off new dance moves to their parents at a performance on June 30.

The group performance was the grand finale of this year’s dance program, which began in February and is led by Amaniyea Payne, artistic director of Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago. Payne came to the school once a week to teach dance to children in five preschool classrooms.

The dance program is one way that Educare intentionally integrates arts into the curriculum. Through dance, children not only develop physical skills, they also exercise their comprehension, listening, observation and social skills.

“Children are learning the language of movement and how we can express ourselves through it,” says Payne, who has been an artist-in-residence at Educare for 12 years. “Most of all, children are learning to work together.”

The dance program incorporates aspects of dance, language and culture from many countries. Payne says she emphasizes the universality of dance and how children can use it to express what they are thinking and feeling. “I believe in the concept that we can amplify our similarities more than our differences,” she says.

During the school year, Payne also presents two professional performances with members of Muntu Dance Theater for the children and families.

Educare’s arts program is funded by the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation as well as public grants.

“The work the children do in dance enhances and supports the work they do in the classrooms,” says Jewell Oates, site administrator of Educare Chicago. “The dance program is a great addition to the offerings at Educare.”

Check out videos from the performance below!