BWW Review: Dancing through the LET'S DANCE! Exhibit
Let's Dance! is an immersive exhibit for children and their families that showcases the joy, beauty, and diversity of dance across New York City and the world. The exhibition, slated to run from July 1st to December 31st 2017, features a number of opportunities to learn about dance through daily live performances, various workshops, and a dance-portal projection dome! In conjunction with the ongoing initiative of the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), Gateway to the Arts, this project is designed to introduce children to dance as an art form, an expression of diverse cultures and traditions, and as a healthy physical activity.
I had the lovely opportunity to speak with Ellen Bari, Senior Exhibit Development Consultant, and Curator for Let's Dance! at CMOM and tour the exhibition.
Located on the lower level of the museum, you enter into a hallway filled with images from and a looped screening of the NY Emmy Nominated film PS Dance!- a documentary about the value of dance in New York City public schools. Once you enter the main room, you are in a place full of creativity and exploration. The room is divided into several different sections- each with something different to offer.
My eyes were immediately drawn to the wall full of images from the 2017 Annual Dance Parade and Festival. Dance Parade, under the direction of Greg Miller, is an organization that seeks to promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form. For the past 10 plus years, the parade and festival has grown to include over 80 unique dance styles- making it the world's largest display of cultural diversity. There are photos of various styles of dance representing a number of different cultures and traditions that make up our city and our country.
I was then intrigued by the dance costume and prop station. Here, children have the opportunity to look and try on different dance outfits and shoes. Once they have their costumes on, kids can explore dance patterns while learning the language of dance through simple dance moves such as hop, skip, and turn that are written on brightly colored pillows found throughout the room. They can then check out their dance moves in the dance studio corner filled with mirrors and a dance barre! Children can also explore different careers in dance such as in music and technical theater. There are opportunities to experiment with authentic percussion instruments and try different drumming beats and rhythms. There is also a "stage" where kids can explore light design with a child-friendly lighting box.<
The highlight for me is the video projection dance portal dome. Here you can watch performances by dance companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispánico, Elisa Monte Dance, Féraba- African Rhythm Tap Company among others (most in a 360 degree experience)! You can learn how to do different dance moves, and also see the similarities of movements from cultures around the world through a collaboration with Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi- a travel dance television series that follows Ms. Mallozzi as she documents her dance experiences from around the world.
This is truly a fabulous exhibition! I love the bright colors and the various stations and activities that are available. It is a great way to introduce children to what may be their first exposure to the art of dance. What a fantastic way to advocate for experiences in dance education and get folks (especially kids) up and moving!
The Let's Dance! exhibit is open to the public at the Children's Museum of Manhattan located at 212 West 83rd Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue). Participation is free with admission. For more information about the exhibition, group tours, performances and workshops, please visit their website at www.cmom.org.
Photo Credit: Emily Munro