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Colgate students help provide local children a chance to dance

By Daniel DeVries on February 14, 2013
Michelle White '13 teaches a dance class for local children at Hamilton Center for the Arts. (photo by Janna Minehart '13)

Michelle White ’13 teaches a dance class for local children at Hamilton Center for the Arts. (Photo by Janna Minehart ’13)

Children learning to plié and pirouette at the Hamilton Center for the Arts have instructors that could also tutor them in neuroscience and sociology.

Three Colgate students are now teaching children, ages 6 to 10, beginner dance lessons at the 10 Broad Street location of the HCA in downtown Hamilton.

HCA Director Kathy Herold said having Colgate students willing to teach for a nominal fee makes the seven-week program possible and affordable for children in the community.

“Even if it’s not as structured as a dance school, it fills a gap,” Herold said. “Families can afford it, and it helps bring in some money to the arts center.”

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For Michelle White ’13, a neuroscience major from Meadville, Pa. teaching beginner jazz comes naturally, as she has practiced dance in one form or another since age 3.

“It’s a lot of fun. Their attention spans aren’t very long, so you just have fun with it,” White said. “I love dance. I tell people my dream job would be part time dance teacher and part time doctor, which is pretty unrealistic, but you never know.”

Herold said about 20 children are now involved in the program, which she said will continue with new classes in the fall. Sociology and anthropology major Hailey Melamut ’15, of Sudbury Mass., teaches the hip-hop dance class.

“They’re listening to music, they’re learning about rhythm, and maybe they’re gaining some self esteem,” Herold said of the developmental benefits of participation in the arts.

Emma Satchell ’13, a neuroscience major from Seattle, Wash., teaches a creative movement class that blends ballet and modern dance.

“It’s really exciting to see little kids get into it. It’s rewarding to see them excited about dance, as it has been such an outlet for all my life,” said Satchell, who also began dancing at age 3. Satchell said she sees her time teaching dance to children as a way to relieve stress after long days of class work. She also remembers being a little girl and looking up to her dance teacher as a role model.

“Anything that I can do to have these kids be interested in dance and be passionate about it,” said Satchell, who will be working at Seattle Children’s Hospital after graduation. “They’re kind of silly and uninhibited and free. It’s nice to remember the things that really matter.”

Michelle White '13 and a few of her students strike a pose at Hamilton Center for the Arts. (photo by Janna Minehart '13)

Michelle White ’13 and a few of her students strike a pose at Hamilton Center for the Arts. (Photo by Janna Minehart ’13)

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