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Students perform during an Island Moving Company creative movement residency at the Pell Elementary School in Newport, RI. Photo: Jen Carter

Island Moving Company receives funding for in school programs


Island Moving Company, Newport’s resident contemporary ballet company, has received generous funding to continue its tradition of engagement with the Newport County schools with its Math Into Movement residency.  The van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Secret Garden Tour and NewportFed Charitable Foundation have each granted a second year of funding to this arts integration initiative.  Their support will enable teachers to learn tools to engage kinetic learners in acquiring vital math skills. Artistic Director Miki Ohlsen and Education Program Director Christine Sandorfi are now scheduling the residency, designed for second graders and their teachers, with elementary schools on Aquidneck Island.   The dancers of the Island Moving Company will visit each school to offer in-school workshops on addition and telling time during the winter months, beginning in January.  Teachers will continue using the lesson plans to continue illustrating math principles through lively physical exercises.  This year, the residency will also include a new unit for first graders on addition.

“Miki and I had a great time with all the second-grade teachers,” said Sandorfi. “Learning these movement tools they were all excited and open to the possibilities these lessons provide to reach their students who learn kinetically.  The movements also reinforce the concepts for every kid.  The first-grade component is going to be so helpful – it was the suggestion of the Pell School teachers that we start earlier with the addition lesson.  It’s based on a concept called skip counting, which already sounds like dancing.”

The Math Into Movement residency will involve over 1000 Aquidneck Island children in movement in their classrooms this school year.  The Math Into Movement residency was developed with assistance from the Frances R. Dewing Foundation and was developed and piloted at Newport’s Claiborne Pell Elementary School in 2015.  The expansion of the program to all Aquidneck Island schools was made possible by grants from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and the Rhode Island Foundation’s Newport County Fund.  The van Beuren Charitable Foundation also underwrote the development of the new first grade Math Into Movement residency.

In addition, IMC will be at several of the schools with a Text Into Movement residency created for third graders.  In Newport, that residency will be supported by grants from the North Family Trust and the Secret Garden Tours sponsored by the Benefactors of the Arts.  PTO funding from many of the schools also supports the residencies.  Island Moving Company also receives funding from Ocean State Charities Trust and the RI State Council on the Arts to support its work with Aquidneck Island’s children.

Island Moving Co. is committed to connecting the school curriculum to the arts.  As Artistic Director Miki Ohlsen has said, “Dance can reach children who don’t always do well in the traditional classroom and getting everybody up to move is a way to fight childhood obesity.  There’s never any right or wrong in an IMC workshop — students connect strongly with the dancers, who encourage them to experiment and make creative choices.  We think it’s important that these students engage with artists who live and work in our beautiful and vibrant community.”

For information about the IMC’s schools programs, visit the website at islandmovingco.org.  Call Island Moving Co. at 401 847-4470 to ask about bringing a residency to your child’s school.

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