Is it necessary for schools to implement the arts? Traci Lester is the executive director of the National Dance Institute, and she believes art is essential. Her nonprofit provides art and learning programs to more than 6,000 public school children per week in New York City and thousands across the country and in China through their associate programs.
Traci said, “At, NDI, we think the arts are critical for every child’s early development, which is why we want to make sure the programming is in schools and stays in schools, because that’s what we think is most important.”
NDI uses dance as a platform for the work they do, which is helping kids adapt soft skills at a young age. Traci expressed how wonderful it is to see a student, who wasn’t interested in dance, become a part of NDI. They perfect moves and rhythms as they’re dancing on stage and working towards an end of year performance.
“Really, it’s bringing children together, helping to develop those social-emotional skills, helping them to build confidence to excel to really sort of shine and find that inner spark that they may not even know they had before,” Traci said.
Our host, Julia Sun, chimed in by stating that there is so much more to dance and the arts, because it helps bridge a gap. She said, while you can learn everything in the book, you can bring it to a different level when you develop soft skills through the arts.
Carrie asked if there were any dancers in the audience, and what effect did it have on their lives in terms of developing soft skills?
Audience member, Gantz Moore Marcie, said, ” Dance was the foundation of my career. I went from studying to a professional career to a career in arts administration to grantmaking. Now I am entrepreneur. The skills I acquired were creativity, discipline, collaboration and work ethic.”
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