Art Sparks ignites dance, health for local schools


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Art Sparks is so much more than a dance or arts program. The multifaceted nonprofit helps students with STEM learning, literature, wellness and science, but admittedly one of the most engaging programs it offers is the energetic Wiggle Jig, a dance/fitness program that employs teaching artists, a live musician in the classroom and lots of interaction.

The instructor initiates a lively call and response with students not unlike a fun boot camp.

“We certainly want to serve students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience high quality dance programming and might not have the opportunity to experience the arts in general,” says Kara Stewart, founder and co-artistic director of Art Sparks.

The program is a collaboration between Art Sparks, Ballet Met, and The Center for Arts Inspired Learning. According to Art Sparks, the program helps young people develop discipline and self esteem, and Stewart has seen this curriculum’s long-term effect on past students who go on to succeed in the performing arts.

The team comprises more than just an instructor. “We always travel with a team (teacher, co-teacher and musician), and we believe live music is essential.” On a recent visit, the keyboard player’s physicality and workout was nearly that of the instructors.

And Art Sparks isn’t just about the arts. “We have a really popular geometry program, and it’s really malleable depending on the grade,” Stewart adds. “Obviously we’re talking about shapes. Dance is a wonderful program for exploring shapes,” and it helps with third-grade state testing requirements, along with offering dance and fitness programming.

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