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Minds in Motion to end at schools
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Sanville Elementary School Minds in Motion students perform “Animals of the Zodiac” on Feb. 28. Minds in Motion no longer will be available in area schools due to financial strains on the Richmond Ballet. (Bulletin file photo)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

After 13 years, Minds In Motion, a partnership between Piedmont Arts and the Richmond Ballet, is ending in Henry County and Martinsville due to budgetary and staffing constraints of the ballet.

“This was not a Piedmont Arts decision. It was a decision of the Richmond Ballet,” said Piedmont Arts Executive Director Kathy Rogers.

Minds In Motion is an in-school movement program.

It first was offered locally at Albert Harris Elementary School and expanded to other schools, according to Rogers.

Eventually, according to a Piedmont Arts news release, Minds In Motion reached all fourth-graders in the Martinsville Schools, as well as Mt. Olivet and Sanville elementary schools in Henry County and Carlisle School. In addition, students in fifth- through eighth-grade took part in advanced after-school programming through Minds In Motion’s Team XXL.

“This has been an amazing program for our community with thousands of students benefiting, and we regret seeing it come to an end,” Piedmont Arts Education Coordinator Heidi Pinkston said in the release. “While the loss of Minds In Motion is disappointing, it is an opportunity for Piedmont Arts to look at its educational programming to see how we can reach even more students through the visual and performing arts.”

Rogers agreed, saying in the release: “Minds In Motion is a phenomenal program that uses dance to teach discipline, teamwork and collaboration. We have enjoyed our long-running partnership with Richmond Ballet and truly hate to see this program end.”

“The arts are so important in educating the whole child, and research shows a clear connection between arts and academic achievement. We have to ask ourselves, ‘How can we provide more effective hands-on arts programming for area children?’ That’s the question we will be working to answer in the coming weeks,” Rogers said in the release.

“The issue isn’t just funding but finding a partner,” Rogers said in an interview. “We’re looking at education programs and residencies.”

It is unlikely a Minds In Motion-type program will be offered in local schools in the 2013-14 school year, Rogers said.

Over the years, Piedmont Arts has received generous support from many in the community for Minds In Motion, including Martinsville Public Schools, individuals, corporations and the Martinsville Speedway Children’s Foundation, according to the release.

“We hope we can continue to count on this kind of support for the current and future arts programming that Piedmont Arts brings to our community,” Pinkston said in the release.

An official with the Richmond Ballet could not be reached.

According to the Richmond Ballet’s website: “Minds In Motion is the cornerstone of Richmond Ballet’s education department and has been introducing fourth-graders to the joy of dance since 1995. Professional teaching artists and musicians bring their love and experience of dance to each of the Minds In Motion students in a yearlong or more intensive two-week residency program. Minds In Motion collaborates with partner organizations like the Science Museum of Virginia and VMFA to create a unique, yearlong learning experience that engages the whole child.

“The experience culminates with a professionally produced performance celebrating the year’s theme. Minds In Motion students take the stage with confidence that they have built on week by week or day by day. Minds In Motion reaches students in Richmond, Hopewell, Charlottesville, Martinsville, Woodbridge, Chesterfield County, Henry County, Henrico County and Israel, connecting over 2,000 students with dance each year. Minds In Motion brings together children from all walks of life to share a transformative, meaningful arts experience, and is the only program of its kind in the commonwealth.”


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